As much as I hate to, I feel I have to DNF this one. It's just not catching on with me. Well-drawn and atmospheric, I really, really wanted t4.5 stars
As much as I hate to, I feel I have to DNF this one. It's just not catching on with me. Well-drawn and atmospheric, I really, really wanted to like A Triumph for Sakura, but it's just not connecting with me.
So why then did I rate the book so highly? Because I know there are readers out there that will absolutely lap up this book and sob desperately for more. And on a simple technical level, I can't blame them. Ridler is a damned fantastic writer. He's created a world here that's gritty and grubby and downright depressing as hell, filled with old-school style vampires that you really don't want to meet in a dark alley. Yet despite the vampires, it's a world that's vividly realistic: you can smell the blood and sweat of the fights, feel the heat from the press of bodies, hear the cheers and jeers and thumping of feet. And the story is told in a tight, attention-grabbing manner: the narrative flows, the dialogue feels genuine, and you get enough info about how the world of A Triumph for Sakura came to being without Ridler relying on lengthy exposition or falling into the trap of using info dumps. The only hiccup for me were the frequent flashbacks to Vietnam experienced by Ned Bangs, Sakura's trainer and the actual focus of the novel. I get that Bangs is suffering from PTSD, even as a vampire, and that Ridler is simply showing the triggers and consequences, but it seemed excessive. Although no specific year is given, it's obviously been several decades since Vietnam and in that time Bangs hasn't been able to come to grips with even just a little bit of his experience there? Those little interludes were just a bit too frequent and attention-disrupting for my liking. Even so, the story still has its merits. Sadly, though, in spite of all its charms and achievements, A Triumph for Sakura is just not connecting with me on a visceral level. Which really sucks. For me, that is.
This is the first book I've (semi-)read by Jason Ridler, thanks to him contacting me and offering me a copy in exchange for an honest review. (As he put it, “If you love it, hate, or think it was meh, totally cool.”) Despite the unfinished state of A Triumph for Sakura (which, I promise, I will try to finish at a later date because it bugs me; just consider it to be on hold at the moment), don't for a moment think I won't try reading any of Ridler's other novels. Because he's certainly got a unique voice that I want to hear more of- uh, of which I want to hear more. Oh, screw it. Who really cares anyway?...more