I felt the author’s enthusiasm on Japanese culture. It was very evident in the book. I also think it was smart of him to take a different route from the usual. I don’t often come across books like this. It definitely piqued my interest. And anything Japanese (or Asian) inspired is a major win for me. Stormdancer is innovative and completely, hands down bad-ass. If only was too ambitious.
It tried to incorporate as many ideas as possible which either impressed me or overwhelmed me. It’s like a glass full of water but it kept pouring even though it couldn’t accommodate it any more. So many ideas. Heavy on descriptions. Some were pretty remarkable. Some were unnecessary. And because there so many stuff going on, the utilization of these ideas had suffered.
It also didn’t help that I didn’t like how it presented the facts. I don’t like the Q & A style, probably my least favorite way of handling information. There were several times someone had asked the “what is” question. (e.g. “What is a RONIN?” What is DAIMYO?” “What is Kyodai?” and so on and so forth.) I know it is important for readers to know these things but there have to be another way to get your information across. There has to be.
I think some reviewers had already voiced out their disappointment over the improper usage of the Japanese language: there’s the honorific ‘sama’ and if I may say it again, the abundant of the word ‘hai.’But as for me, I don’t know what to feel. I don’t know if I’m going to laugh it off or get boiling mad. I’m not going to pretend that I’m an expert of the language. My familiarity comes from being an anime/manga fan. Years of being in the fandom helped me familiarized with certain Japanese words. At least the very basics. So having the basics wrong was really an eyesore. Plus, there’s something really, really off with the way they speak, like is this how authentic Japanese conversation should sound? Should I assume that they were originally talking in Japanese? Or they were really talking in English and were just trying to sound Japanese by throwing some words in the conversation? I don’t get it. I don’t know how to approach it.
I think it’s a sign of respect to one’s culture (subject) to invest time on proper research, especially if it’s something you’re not familiar with. I remember Amano Akira (of 家庭教師ヒットマンREBORN! [Katekyo Hitman Reborn!]) she asked someone who’s fluent in Italian (she can just use google translate, y’know) to help her to name/translate terms she uses in her manga. Ooooh, another perfect example I think is Takashi Hashiguchi (of 焼きたて!! ジャぱん [Yakitate Japan!!]) he even hired a baker to make sure the breads he featured are possible to bake in real life. That folks is dedication.
But this book has merits. I understand how it sweeps off a lot of readers’ feet. So let’s give credit where credit is due. Did I just say it was bad-ass? Yes, it was really action-packed. Bursting with exhilarating action. The author didn’t hold bars. When it is kick-ass time, it is really kick-ass time. Yukiko could be annoying but she is strong. She owns herself. She relies on herself. And while the romance? (lust?) almost made my eye roll (wait, I did roll my eye!) I like that it didn’t consume her like other heroines I’ve read before.
And well, there’s Buruu. This creature had me heart and soul. More than Yukiko actually. I also like the background story of the first Buruu, and it made me cry reading his story. It was very heartbreaking. And quite honestly this was the only time I have genuine emotional connection with the book. Then there’s the new Buruu. I liked Yukiko and Buruu’s connection, interaction. One, if not the only aspect that made the book worth giving two and a half stars.
Even though I sound so negative, I still think the book is worth the curiosity. There are a lot of people who loved the book and I can see why. And maybe you could be one of them, so go ahead and try it and judge it for yourself. The book’s idea is impressive, if only it was executed properly.