Alexis Lee's Reviews > Stormdancer

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
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Sep 12, 12

Read in September, 2012

[Made some major edits - Oh, and read the end of the review, please. :)]
Arggghhhhhh.

I read the words:
"Japanese steampunk"
and lost my mind. I knew I had to read this book like, NowOMGholyshiznits. So I did. And now I'm torn, because the words "Japanese Steampunk" deserve five stars for even existing, but the book...not so much.

The blurb sounded fantastic - all the elements I could ever want in a steampunk story (Or even any genre kind of story). I went through lots and lots of rave enthusiastic reviews. Also, need I mention - JAPANESE. STEAMPUNK. (And, OMG, chainsaw. Katana!??! THUNDERTIGERS?!?! SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.)

I expected so, so much from this story, and perhaps that's why it failed to deliver what I was looking for. While I was reading, all I could think about was how oddly detached I was from the characters. I felt nothing for the heroine and even less for her father/love interest(s). The only character I actually liked was Buruu, and possibly Lady Aisha, and even that was a very tentative, fleeting sort of 'like'. The character development was minimal and, well, soggy at best - I know its there, but it wasn't good enough. Not by a longshot. Everyone is 2-dimensional and flat. Flat like steamrolled flat; there is literally no depth to these characters.

Also, the prose and writing style was WAY TOO overdone.
Of course, there were some good lines in there, like (view spoiler) and some pretty descriptions - but most of the time, there was just too much description, which made it very hard to follow. World building went on forever, and ever, and ever, and ever. It was unnecessary, to say the least.
Usage of Japanese terms and language was overdone and added to the confusion, because they weren't woven in properly. [Here I would like to note, 'aiyah!' is not a Japanese exclamation. I'm annoyed, because its what we Malaysians use. :D Singaporeans do, too - but I have never, ever, ever heard a Japanese say anything the least bit similar to 'aiyah!']

But! Those are just things I felt uncomfortable with in the book - There are some things about this book that just outright didn't cut it for me.

1. For a novel which claims to be a Japanese steampunk [and the distinction is important,] there is very little authentic Japanese or (even Oriental/Asian) feel to this story. You can't just fling Japanese words around and market it as a Japanese story. That's not how it works, and it really doesn't work here. This is most obvious in the way the characters interact with each other. There is something distinctly un-Japanese about how they address or relate to one another, and in their actions towards each other. Perhaps its different for other readers, but I see it very clearly, and it bothers me.

*Edit: No, seems like I'm not alone with this. Kindly refer to other scathing but sadly true one-star/two-star reviews which point out just how badly the Japanese language/grammar is murdered in this novel, because they cover all the glaring mistakes that I noticed in the writing. And there are some hugeass glaring ones. I feel the need to reiterate this point: don't. Overuse. The. Japanese. Terms! (I reread a first few chapters in the hope my opinion would improve....nope, if anything, it got worse). They were almost always unnecessary and got really annoying to sift through. I ended up assuming/imagining what every Japanese term meant in my head because I couldn't be bothered to google. Even worse, the terms that I did know were a result of many long hours spent watching anime and reading manga - I can't even begin to imagine how the readers who never indulge in the pastime get through the insane amount of Japanese word-dropping that goes on.

I notice the author has three chapters up for previews. Read THAT, and you'll begin to understand what I mean.

**Also, thought I'd give you some examples of what I mean by culturally not Japanese (or even Asian):
Take the father-daugther relationship. Yukiko was outright rude and whiny to her father in public at the beginning of the story. That is *so* not the way it works - rude is one thing, public is another. I know I once got disciplined in public for being rude to my dad - and Yukiko throws a tantrum instead. Oh boy. This may seem like a little thing, but the whole novel consists of odd non-Asian moments like this.
And that bit where she was allowed to just walk away after downright insulting the group of adults smoking whatever flower it was?



2. I also did not fully buy into the friendship/bond between Buruu and Yukiko. Certainly it was adorable - but it was unbelievable. I simply had to compare it to the Toothless-Hiccup relationship in How To Train Your Dragon because there are many similarities in the circumstances, but the similarity ends there. The Toothless-Hiccup relationship took lots of time and effort, and there was a slow, obvious forming of a lasting bond of trust that was ultimately rewarding and touching for both characters. Not so much in the Yukiko-Buruu bond. It happened too quickly, even with Yukiko's ability to (view spoiler) - one moment, they severely mistrusted each other and the next, they were the I-love-you dynamic brother sister fighting duo? No. I have to say that I was looking forward to their character and relationship development the most, and so it was in this aspect that I was the most disappointed.

3. You want a romance aspect to your novel? Fine with me, I'd prefer it, in fact. However, the romance within this novel was so badly written that I think it even detracted from the dramatic tension a little bit. Yukiko is at her worst when her romance scenes are written, and I honestly hate the (view spoiler)Not so much the (view spoiler) because I think he's okay, but the (view spoiler).
InstaLove rears its ugly head YET again; I loathe it, and its like Kristoff can't be bothered to even attempt to write it well. Yunno, I *have* read instances of good InstaLove. They're rare like unicorns, but they exist. This was not one of those instances, plus it comes with miserable and unneeded Love Triangle! trope. No. Stop, please, I beg you. This kind of thing ruins a story, and its not like it needed any further ruination after all the weak characterization and plot that goes on.



I'm annoyed with this novel, because I really, really want to like it - but I don't. Its nothing special, and I've read so many better ones. The one star you see is just the star that I have to accord on account of the words "Japanese Steampunk". I can't give anything higher than that, because it simply wouldn't be true.
*Edit: Yep, so I waver between two stars and one star a lot. After some contemplation, one star it is - I've read far worse books, as much as this one sucks. I wish for negative stars, but Goodreads just isn't accommodating like that....

The ending, of all things, just reads like a failed attempt at the dramatic tension that happens in Hunger Games or similar dystopian novels. Sorry, but not even close.

Still, I'm sure I'll pick up the next book in the series just to discover what happens. I'll hate myself for doing it, but I probably will. Hopefully, author-sama [dear author, note: PROPER use of suffix -sama !!!! ] will take some Japanese culture and language classes before he starts working on the sequel. It's wishful thinking, but I'm willing to give this Japanese steampunk thing another go. Just because it's Japanese. And steampunk.

**[important]EDIT
In lieu of a recent interview of Kristoff's that I have been linked to - I've got some rage to vent. Some extreme, extreme rage. Why? Look:

GR is a public forum, but it’s a place where people put their personal opinion out for the world to see. If your opinion differs, the solution is simple: write your own frackin’ review. If you’re an author and you’re getting bent out of shape about someone trashing your book, the solution is also simple: stop reading bad reviews.

No single 1 star review ever sunk a book. And as amazing as chocolate ice-cream is, and as baffling to you as the thought might be, there are some people in the world who do not like chocolate ice cream. You don’t have to hang out with them, or talk with them or deal with them in any way. Just stick with the folks who like chocolate and it’s all good.

Even if the person is eating chocolate ice-cream and screaming “Oh god, this martini sucks” – just DON’T. It’s not worth it.


I have no words.



I was so angry, I had to compose myself before editing this review. Oh, and, that's ONE STAR OFF MY TWO STARS, THANKS.



Is THIS how you want to respond to negative reviews, Kristoff? SERIOUSLY? Look - you can't please everyone. That's for sure. I agree with you 100%. But we negative reviewers aren't putting your book down for shits and giggles. We are giving you honest-to-god constructive criticism in the sincere hopes that you improve your writing. Do forgive us if we seem a bit snarky, but we tell it as we see it.

Look, I gave you your due: I mentioned that I liked your premise. You thought about it, its fun and original, kudos to you. NOW IMPROVE. Its not like you've written the best book of the decade. You're not even close. Have you got anything to say about the points that I and the other reviewers have raised in regards to your writing?! Anything OTHER than "some people just don't like chocolate ice-cream!??!?!!?

Look: you don't have to respond to us or comment on our reviews. If you do, you'll find that we are both respectful and willing to discuss your book rationally with you, even tell you what you did *right* - but you certainly don't have to engage us. HOWEVER, please *respect* our reviews in return. We took the time to read your book, to analyze it, and write this review for it. We didn't do this mindlessly. Do you really think there's no basis to our criticism?!

Sorry. Your, and I quote, speshul snowflake response to negative reviews is just not cutting it for me. I've just lost most of my respect for you, and you've provoked me so much that I've reached the end of my rant but I'M STILL ANGRY.

Arrrghhhhh.

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message 1: by Cory (last edited Sep 07, 2012 07:38PM) (new) - added it

Cory I have an ARC on my desk that I plan to read in a few weeks. More and more reviews come in and I become more reluctant to read this. Especially since the romance sounds rather... meh. The writing already put me off. Same problem I had with Wildefire, by Karsten Knight. What is it with these YA writer guys and their superhyped books and their overwritten prose?


message 2: by Scribble (new) - added it

Scribble Orca Aww, this is really sad to hear.

I think the author put a lot of work into his world-building background - but as a Japanese speaker (lived there two years, graduated in Japanese journal lit, and worked as a translator/interpreter) there's nothing more off-putting than when it's done wrong, and this is one of the reasons I've hesitated to jump on the rah-rah bandwagon - because if it's good, I want to be there too.

I read the first three chapters and I wanted to get into this, I really did - I'd had a number of people recommend and a number of friends make LOUD shout-outs. I'm still on the fence, but every time I return to the sample I come away thinking....hmm, I don't want to buy it - maybe I'll wait till it's in the library, which could be a long wait here in Singapore - lah! :D


Alexis Lee @Cory
IDK! I have a similar problem with most YA romances. And most YA books, for that matter. I don't know what is with all the MarySue-ism and the InstaLove and the assholeHero-ism.
Stormdancer has a different set of problems, though. Mostly: un-japanese-ness. Overdramatic plot which tries too hard to imitate the successes of other YA novels. Clunky writing and overuse of Japanese terms. I actually think it would have been a kickass book with just a little bit more effort. There is a *book* behind all that bad writing, and its sad, because you know its there.


Alexis Lee @Scribble
Singaporean! We're practically neighbours-lah. XD
I know, even with all the hype I wasn't very invested in the story when I was three chapters in. It was really hard to sift through the prose, and my feelings for Yukiko wavered. A lot. And with your background in Japanese (and Asian!) culture, I think you'll find that beyond the bad slang/dialogue, there are lots of non-Japanese things going on in this novel. Like pandas. And being rude to your father in public.
Get it if the book goes cheap on kindle, maybe? Its Japanese steampunk. Sure, not very good Japanese steampunk, but you know. I found it hard to resist.


message 5: by Scribble (last edited Sep 08, 2012 02:02AM) (new) - added it

Scribble Orca @Alexis, I can see it working cheap on Kindle for me. But there are a few other books (see my review of Fire in the Sea by Myke Bartlett which nabbed me on one paragraph) that I really want to spend my limited time reading.


Alexis Lee @Scribble Definitely, Stormdancer's more of an I've-got-time-to-kill book. Fire In The Sea sounds good from all the reviews, gotta check that out.


Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship As someone who will be writing a very critical review of this book once I finally finish it, I had a different response to Kristoff's comments in the interview. No, I don't take especially kindly to the implication that disliking his book means I don't know how to have fun (hell, I read the whole Hunger Games trilogy in a weekend, and they're hardly great literature).

But: my reviews are not intended as constructive criticism, nor to benefit the author in any way. I'm weirded out by the idea of authors reading my reviews at all--I know it happens, but I'd rather not know about it, and I sure as hell don't want an author contacting me about a review, even politely. My reviews are for readers. Editors are paid to give constructive criticism and improve authors' writing (sadly, not nearly enough of that was done in this case). Online, I think Kristoff's sticking with people who liked his book and want to engage with him is the right move.


message 8: by Scribble (new) - added it

Scribble Orca Emma wrote: "As someone who will be writing a very critical review of this book once I finally finish it, I had a different response to Kristoff's comments in the interview. No, I don't take especially kindly t..."

Fair call, Emma. But my problem in my review is that a lot of those people are my friends right here on GR and I know some of them in real life as well. So I took the middle road (try to please all and you will please none) by acknowledging what I thought could be done to rescue not just this book but the whole series. I made the point that the author would cop the crap and the eds not and you've astutely recognised that it was sadly missing in this case - but most people won't.

Alexis is sincere in her desire (like me) to see an improvement because a lot of people are going to read this and end up disappointed and it doesn't have to be that way.

I agree with you about the Hunger Games - as far as I'm concerned I don't think that was salvageable from page one - but that's because the basic premise equated with someone's idea of a sick joke and this is not the definition of dystopia that I learned (but then I'm old hat, too) and there is not even the vaguest attempt to push at the boundaries of allegory like Lord of the Flies (see my review) did.

But I for one am looking forward to your review :D


message 9: by Alexis (last edited Sep 13, 2012 12:50AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Alexis Lee @Emma
Yep, I see how that could work for you. Sometimes I'd rather not have an author read my reviews too, because it might be uncomfortable for both parties. Also I can see how ignoring bad reviews works for Kristoff, for any author, in fact. There would be less discomfort for everyone, but my opinion is that if authors paid more attention to criticism, we'd get better quality writing. In this case, I really *want* him to read my review because I don't want the premise to be wasted.

But all that is relative: what bothered me the most, like you mentioned, are his implications that we are the weird and silly people who just can't hop on the fun bandwagon with everyone else. It's as if he doesn't respect my opinions as a reader, as if they have no real foundation, like I just feel like criticizing him for fun - which I'm not. At least, that's what I got from his comment, and until he clears it up, I'm not a very happy reader.

Ooh, and I can't wait to read your critical review. I'm finding all this negativity reaaallly entertaining. Morbidly fun. X3

@Scribble
Yes! The series is still salvageable, and I hope he goes for it. Seriously, i hope he reads just *one* bad review. Just one. It might be the catalyst to a better written book 2. And heck yeah, here's to hoping more readers read the negative reviews too, because then maybe they'll realize that Kristoff has made some serious blunders and all is not perfect in his debut.


Syahira Sharif honestly, he better not read mine for obvious reason.

chocolate icecream.... right -___-


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

I think his comments above were actually a response to Goodreads users/badly behaving authors trolling reviews. I don't think it's an attack on negative reviews of his own book at all. He's just saying if someone's review offends you, don't troll it, write your own and express your opinion. Meh.


Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship I think Kara is right about the author's intention. His implications are unfortunate but may have been unintentional. After all, he is a first-time author being encouraged to criticize unfavorable reviews of his book (and why the interviewer would go there I have no idea, since the average response is still overwhelmingly positive. Clearly y'all are making waves!).

As far as authors responding to reviews, I would also be weirded out if one thanked me for a 5-star review. It's not just about whether I've criticized their work, it's that I want to maintain at least the illusion that readers can talk about books online in an author-free space. (Many of the authors I read are either dead, too popular to read all their reviews, or have openly stated that they don't read reviews, so often enough this is actually true.)

I do agree that it would be good for Kristoff to at least be aware of the general criticisms of his work, so that the next one will be better. But there's nothing he can do about this one now other than be depressed, and that doesn't help anyone. And if a lot of people think it's awesome as is, well then, he probably shouldn't write his next book to please the 1-star reviewers of this one, who aren't likely to pick up the next anyway.

(That said, I have been frustrated with authors--Robert Jordan for instance--who openly said they didn't read amateur reviews, and then wrote several terrible books in a row all with the same problems, which were well-articulated by reviewers. Paying more attention would've served him well. So I know how you feel!)

Re: The Hunger Games, I agree that it doesn't do much as a dystopia--I think it's better viewed as post-apocalyptic. I had some issues with the premise and with its general literary quality, but it was still fun and exciting and addictive, so I was able to look past that enough to enjoy it. Not so with Stormdancer.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks, Emma. I was worried that my comments would be taken wrong because I did love the book. But I swear I am not trolling. I just had a different perception of his comments and wanted to share.

For the record, I do understand why people are not enjoying this book as I can see it from both sides. I just feel differently. Glad we can all still do that.


message 14: by Scribble (last edited Sep 14, 2012 09:56PM) (new) - added it

Scribble Orca Kara wrote: "I think his comments above were actually a response to Goodreads users/badly behaving authors trolling reviews. I don't think it's an attack on negative reviews of his own book at all. He's just sa..."

Kara, I'd go along with you on that - except that if that was all the author really meant - why continue with the 'chocolate ice-cream' comment? That's just a red rag to a bull. He could have finished his answer with 'just write your own review'. But to continue with the allegory of 'i-don't-like-this-martinichocolate ice-cream' reviews being written by people who either have no taste/can't taste (his McDonald's version) of it destroys his credibility.

You don't come across as a troll, Kara. Just as having a different opinion. The reason I don't agree with your take on that interview is because it doesn't ring sincere for me - it reads like an attempt to say the 'right' thing - and sneak in a little back-handed trolling at anyone taste-bud-dead-enough to dislike his book - and for what it's worth, he equated these reviews with 'bad' reviews in general. Where is the 'bad' review amongst the people who have written dissenting opinions?

Nope - he shot himself in his own foot with that last line. He'd have been better to take his own advice and 'just not go there'.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

I mean, I don't see the chocolate ice cream comment that way at all, but okay. I think it just means that not everyone's tastes are the same and we should respect that. I don't think he was saying people that negatively reviewed his book have bad taste. But of course you are entitled to your opinion. I honestly believe he was sticking up for reviewers that have been trolled or attacked by BBA's. This comment came out at a time when the community was very heated. But yeah, that's all I've got.


Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship Oh, I didn't think the martini bit meant people had no taste, I figured it meant that even if you think someone is totally missing the point, you still shouldn't troll them. We've all seen reviews where somebody trashed a book for not being what they wanted it to be, rather than for actual flaws. (OK, I've written a couple that were pretty close to that line myself.)

I just hope Kristoff meant that in a general way and not as a response to people complaining about his lack of research.... because there are authors who (for some reason) didn't think research was required in fantasy when they wrote their first books, but realized their mistake and went on to do lots of research for later books. Juliet Marillier, for instance.


Grack21 You know, here's the thing. I still read Brooks, D&D Pulp, and Star Wars. I know what good chocolate is. This book is bad, stale, poorly made chocolate.


Alexis Lee @Emma/@Kara Appreciate the second opinion. [Plus, why would I consider you trolling? This is a discussion. Discussions be fun. XD] In some ways, I agree - the comment could have been taken that way - but I'm more on @Scribble's side.

The whole chocolate-and-martini thing was uncalled for, and I *am* reading into it for all its worth. His whole interview had a very insincere ring to it, but honestly, I'm not very happy with Kristoff, and I'm giving him the short end of the stick here. But! The chocolate analogy especially ticks me off because - like @Grack21 says - its some pretty bad chocolate, and the author seems to be both ignorant of this fact and not open to second perspectives, ie. bad reviews of his book. No....I can't deal with that. I think having perspectives is *always* better. You can be buoyed and encouraged by good reviews, but reading one bad review will give you the whole picture. Right, not sure that I'm explaining it properly - but yeah. The *ignore bad reviews* principle is one I cannot deal with - it has to be something like: acknowledge but ignore bad reviews - that I can deal with.


message 19: by Linda (new) - rated it 1 star

Linda I also talked about the chocolate thing in my own Stormdancer thread. I've heard similar analogies elsewhere before, and I always found it too simplistic. Here's what I wrote:
"I mean, I don't like mushroom, but there's still a difference between a mushroom dish prepared by a skilled chef with quality ingredients vs. one made of spoiled mushrooms boiled in dirty water. I can dislike the former because of the mushroom but still appreciate the skill with which it's made. Or someone can like both of them because MUSHROOM! It doesn't mean they're equal in terms of quality. Not everyone who doesn't like your mushroom dish said so because they don't like mushroom. Maybe your dish really does have problems (and yeah, sone people will like it anyway). [ETA: And if a dish incorporates an ethnic ingredient that many westerners aren't familiar with, some diners might not be able to tell whether that ingredient was properly cooked and like the taste regardless, while those who ARE familiar with the ingredient can tell when it's prepared poorly.] It's interesting that authors tend to focus on the taste axis and not the quality axis. Possibly because taste can trump quality for ratings and reviews. Or maybe because it's easier on their egos, haha."

So yeah, I'm with Grack21, Scribble, and Emma -- "dislike this" does not only mean "this just isn't my thing," it can also mean "there are some seriously problematic issues with this book, even if it doesn't bother some people." However, Kristoff isn't the only person who's suggested that personal taste is the only thing that factors into reviews, so I'd cut him some slack on that.

His attitudes toward research, respecting source culture, appropriation, and exoticism, though -- yeah, those are pretty awful.


message 20: by Cyna (new) - rated it 1 star

Cyna So yeah, I'm with Grack21, Scribble, and Emma -- "dislike this" does not only mean "this just isn't my thing," it can also mean "there are some seriously problematic issues with this book, even if it doesn't bother some people." However, Kristoff isn't the only person who's suggested that personal taste is the only thing that factors into reviews, so I'd cut him some slack on that.

I think you summed it up really well, Linda. The thing about the chocolate analogy is that by itself it doesn't seem too terrible. I think using something like chocolate, which is perceived as "universally loved", makes it a little dubious, because then you're kind of saying "Hey, just because you and I and the rest of the known world loves chocolate because it's good and amazing and wonderful doesn't mean that there are some weirdy-weirdoes who have bad taste and don't." I much prefer Linda's mushroom analogy. It's more nuanced, and, well, mushrooms don't have that "universally loved" perception. There's not as much inherent bias there.

Anyway, the thing is, when you add the whole "chocolate & martini" bit to his earlier remark in the same interview - If you can wrap your head around the idea Shima and Japan might look a lot alike, but aren’t the same place, you’ll have fun. - to me, it comes off worse. "Those people who don't like the chocolately goodness of my book just don't want to loosen up and have fun! They just can't wrap their heads around the fact that it's chocolate, even though it tastes, smells, and looks a lot like a martini (maybe with chocolate sprinkles), and I definitely marketed it as one."

So whatev. It seemed like a backhanded jab, a take-that to neg reviewers, without actually engaging. But I actually kind of like that, because it seems to me like evidence that he's at least been confronted with the issues, even if he's clapping his hands over his ears and screaming "LALALALALALALALA!"


Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship Yeah, the "if you can wrap your head around it" bit is totally condescending and mischaracterizes the criticism. I'm not about to try to defend that.


Alexis Lee @everyone
Yes - what Cyna said. I'm a lot biased because of how the whole interview was worded, so by the time I got to the chocolate part everything was an angry red color and dude, wth are you saying!?

I probably need to read it again with my angry goggles off, but laziness - y'know.


message 23: by sanshow (last edited Sep 19, 2012 08:12AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

sanshow Alexis wrote: "@everyone
Yes - what Cyna said. I'm a lot biased because of how the whole interview was worded, so by the time I got to the chocolate part everything was an angry red color and dude, wth are you sa..."


I hear you. I'm still at the early parts and nevermind the names, but the word structure!! Some of the English sentences weren't even written right. The world visuals are actually pretty neat imo, just...the words, the words! You don't see Japanese writers who write about Western steampunks peppering their words with Victorian phrases -_-; Imagine that, and that'd be the equivalent of how accent fetish gone wrong would be like.

Just wait till this book gets popular enough to be translated to Japanese (with all the 'hai', 'sama' intact, using katakana since that's the 'pseudo-new terms' Kristoff used specifically for the world of Shima. ).


Grack21 Hopefully, it won't get that popular.


Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship Something like 40 people have given it 5 stars on Amazon since it was released yesterday. I'm waiting for some of the 1-starrers to post there.


Grack21 Oh, yay.


Justin Strange Horizons posted a largely positive review today. I was stunned.


Grack21 Well, The unremembered actually WON AWARDS and got some good reviews from places, and that book is the worst fantasy debut I can think of. Ever. And I read The Runelords and Goodkind.

Basically, humanity is doomed and all us readers with good taste should take all the good authors with us to Mars and laugh when the Fifthy Shades War destorys mankind.

Ahem

Sorry, stressful day. :P


Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship The Strange Horizons review read more like a 3-starrer to me. Which I do still think is overly generous, but it's not the first time I've seen them overlook poor characterization, wordsmithing and storytelling ability in favor of engaging with the book's ideas.

That review also makes an interesting point re: the role of women in Shima. Kristoff seems to want us to believe it's a restrictive society, except not in any way that would ever affect Yukiko's activities or even her thoughts. (Likely related to the male gaze problem--just as he didn't bother to imagine how Yukiko might look at people that would be different from the way he does, he didn't think about what it would be like to be a woman in a patriarchal society, so he says women can't own property and so on but you'd never actually notice from Yukiko's story.)


Justin Emma wrote: "The Strange Horizons review read more like a 3-starrer to me. Which I do still think is overly generous, but it's not the first time I've seen them overlook poor characterization, wordsmithing and ..."

The whole book feels lazy to me. I found none of the ideas remotely engaging and the storytelling Star Wars level. Which is to say, I'm sure I would have dug the shit out of it at 14.


Grack21 Hey! As a Star Wars fan I find that insulting. Star Wars book0 sdon't have claims about a strong female heroine right in the damn blurb.


Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship I wouldn't say Yukiko is weak.... just underdeveloped and not very interesting.


Grack21 But she's a GIRL and OMG SHE HAS A SWORD. SHES TOTALLY A STRONG FEMALE HEROINE. SHES BREAKING THE MOLD. WOOOOOOOOO.

Also this: http://pbfcomics.com/71/


message 34: by Grack21 (last edited Sep 19, 2012 04:40PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Grack21 I finally saw this in a book store. The author blurb and photo make me want to, well, not to put to fine a point on it, but they make me want to PUNCH THE AUTHOR IN THE DICK.

I wonder if this is how vampire fans felt when twilight mania started.


Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship Grack21 wrote: "But she's a GIRL and OMG SHE HAS A SWORD. SHES TOTALLY A STRONG FEMALE HEROINE. SHES BREAKING THE MOLD. WOOOOOOOOO.

Also this: http://pbfcomics.com/71/"


Eh, while sword certainly doesn't automatically = strong, there isn't as much fighting in the book as the cover would have you believe, and with ~30 pages to go, Yukiko has yet to actually wield one except in a practice bout (normally she has a dagger. and a griffin). I mean, there's certainly nothing groundbreaking about Yukiko, and assuming women can only be "strong" through the use of a weapon is.... problematic, but I don't feel like this book tries to portray women as worthwhile only insofar as they display masculine traits.


Grack21 Heh, well, I'm just going of the preview chapters and the cover blurb. No way am I actually going to READ this.


Abhinav Here's a guest post by the author: http://fantasy-faction.com/2012/the-p... He once again reiterates, a bit subtly, that what he did in the book with Japanese culture because its a "fantasy" novel.


sanshow Ha. Fantasy is when you create something based on research and inspiration, not when you mish-mash a bunch of cultures and call it 'your fantasy creation'.


message 39: by Cyna (new) - rated it 1 star

Cyna Subtle my ass. That whole interview is a giant middle to finger to anyone who called him out on appropriation, exoticism, or just generally stuff got wrong.

Even if you call your world “Not’thureel’wurld” and make it plain that your story is not in any way historical, nor indeed, any form of commentary on the culture that inspired you, if your setting was inspired by an existing culture, particularly a culture you don’t come from, then you’re going to offend somebody. The differences between Tsarist Russia and your fantasy world based on Tsarist Russia can be explained very simply – you aren’t writing a story set in Tsarist Russia. But despite your setting being fantastical, you will be told in no uncertain terms that “you are doing it wrong”. The words “exoticism” and “appropriation” will almost certainly be used.

Most readers will understand you’re writing fantasy, and that your inspiration was exactly that, and only that. Some won’t, and some won’t care. Like death and taxes, this is unavoidable.


Ugh. He then goes on to semi-jokingly defend the White Man's Guilt story trope.

What a prince.


sanshow Cyna wrote: "Subtle my ass. That whole interview is a giant middle to finger to anyone who called him out on appropriation, exoticism, or just generally stuff got wrong.

Even if you call your world “Not’thuree..."


He's the real Yoritomo.


message 41: by Linda (new) - rated it 1 star

Linda Ha, I saw that guest post too. He just doesn't get it at all.


Grack21 Yeah wow, ok. I mean crap, usually when authors get stuff wrong they at least acknowledge it somehow. He's just pouting at this point. I love that he admits he didn't do any actual research too. Been a while since I've seen an author shit the bed like this.


message 43: by Cyna (new) - rated it 1 star

Cyna right? That's the best part. No sorry without a mitigating "But it's not like I did anything wrong!"


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