Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Where to begin? This book was amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I want more of it and I cannot wait to have more of it. It was a like an exotic dessert in bright, swirly colors and with the first bite the tart sweetness settles on your tongue and with each consecutive bite the tang spreads to your insides swelling into the sweetest thing you’ve ever tasted. My mind has been blown.

 A DYING LAND
The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.

AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST
The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger—a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

A SIXTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire

I’ll admit that my first taste of this book included me struggling to comprehend the world Jay Kristoff created through his third-person omniscient point of view. It’s so colorful, crazy, out there and…big. I had a hard time wrapping my mind around it. I also struggled with all the names, the first few chapters jump from different point of views and I had trouble putting the names with the faces (or voices rather). At times Kristoff went into long drawn out painstaking details, but once I accepted the world Kristoff presented, the plot really took off.

I should preface this review with the notion that this is my maiden voyage into the realm of steampunk. I understood the concept going into it, but for some reason, I didn’t expect it to be so literal. The machines and mechanisms were displeasing in the setting, but I guess that is the point, the machines are killing the environment. I learned to love this aspect of the story.

I loved Yukiko. She was a truly strong heroine. She had mad fighting skills but wasn’t too good to be unbelievable. I really enjoyed her teenage angst against her father. Usually, this aspect of Young Adult novels annoys me, but it worked really well here. This angst was resolved later in the story through shocking revelations so it played a huge part in the plot. I love to see this kind of cause and effect.

The pursuit of a Thunder Tiger was an exciting journey. I was thoroughly entertained and on the edge of my seat. There was tons of action that was easy to follow. The concept of a thunder tiger was unique to me and I loved the relationship that evolved between Yukiko and the Thunder Tiger.

There were so many complex relationships. My favorite was between Yukiko and the guildsman, Kin. His feelings for her were so real and raw, it was heartbreaking. I also enjoyed the romance between Yukiko and Hiro. However, I wanted more details, but I loved Yukiko’s obsession throughout the book with his green eyes. Using his eyes as a focal point to get through some tough times was romantic and endearing.

I can’t even begin to explain to you how unbelievably awesome this book is. My review pales in comparison to the awsomeness that is Stormdancer. It’s so well put together and the world-building is phenomenal. It also surprises me how people can build such complex worlds out of a single idea. This book has a lot of action in the pursuit of justice. I enjoyed the plotting against the Shogun. I found myself in tears by the end of the book from the loss and betrayal, but justice wins out in the end. I love the way Kristoff ends this book and I cannot wait for the next one. Jay Kristoff is an author to watch. Unfortunately, there isn’t any information on the next book— no title, no cover, no release date! I’ll have to suffer in agonizing anticipation.

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Everneath by Brodi Ashton

 So anyone who really knows me (and reads this blog) would know that even though it says I’ve been currently reading Everneath by Brodi Ashton for weeks knows it’s not true. I’m an impatient person so I naturally rotate through books quickly. I read it weeks ago in two days; I just haven’t had a chance to write this review. The hold up is partially because I didn’t really enjoy it.

Eveneath by Brodi Ashton is the retelling of the myth of Persephone. (Note: I know NOTHING about Greek mythology so I had no idea how this book would end.) Here’s the synopsis.

 Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she’s returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld… this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she’s forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s…

I really wanted to read this book when I first heard about it, but I quickly realized it wasn’t that great. The writing was fine but the story was not believable. (I know, I know it’s based on Greek Mythology, but come on, can’t the characters have normal human reactions at least?) This book really irks me because it’s another one of those girl makes a really, REALLY dumb decision and we’re expected to feel bad for her. I didn’t and still don’t, that’s probably why I didn’t really like it.

Nikki falls into the cliché teenage issue. Something bad happens and she looks for a way to take the pain away. Unfortunately for her, there is a super hot immortal who can literally take her pain away. I could totally accept this if something REALLY bad had happened but it was something really stupid, more like a misunderstanding. Who gives away their soul/life for a misunderstanding?? It didn’t make any sense. A normal human being would never do that. I’m almost pissed at Ashton for creating the character Nikki like this. It influences young adults to think its okay to overact. It was like committing suicide because of spilt milk. Ugh.

Anyway, the only thing I liked was the human character Jack. Nikki and Jack have a really intense relationship. It was one of the only things that seemed real, it had a lot of tension and regrets. Even though I hated Nikki and thought she was dumb, Jack was the only reason I was rooting for them in the end. Their love redeemed this novel somewhat and the sacrifices made on each other’s behalf were heartwarming. However, I was left extremely dissatisfied in the end. I guess I can’t blame Ashton because that’s probably the way it went down in Greek Mythology, but it reaffirms my distaste for mythology; and I didn’t really enjoy the book as a whole.

Everneath is the first book in a planned trilogy. I can’t say I would recommend this book. I kind of want to forget I ever read it simply because I hated Nikki, but who knows I might pick up the sequel come when.