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.

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.

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.

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.