Every civilization has its myths. Only one is true.
When eighteen year old Keiko Yamada’s father dies unexpectedly, he leaves behind a one way ticket to Japan, an unintelligible death poem about powerful Japanese spirits and their gigantic, beast-like Guardians, and the cryptic words: “Go to Japan in my place. Find the Gate. My camera will show you the way.”
Alone and afraid, Keiko travels to Tokyo, determined to fulfil her father’s dying wish. There, beneath glittering neon signs, her father’s death poem comes to life. Ancient spirits spring from the shadows. Chaos envelops the city, and as Keiko flees its burning streets, her guide, the beautiful Yui Akiko, makes a stunning confession – that she, Yui, is one of a handful of spirits left behind to defend the world against the most powerful among them: a once noble spirit now insane. Keiko must decide if she will honour her father’s heritage and take her rightful place among the gods.
Keith Yatsuhashi was born in 1965 in Boston, MA. He graduated from Northeastern University in 1989. Repped by Laura Zatz, Headwater Literary Management
Keith was a competitive figure skater for ten years, winning the U.S. National Junior Dance Championships in 1984, a bronze medal in the 1983 World Junior Figure Skating Championships, and a silver medal in 1984.
In addition to his love of writing, Keith enjoys many hobbies such as golf, reading, and playing football and hockey with his sons. Keith currently lives in Norfolk, MA with his wife, Kathleen and three children—Caitlin, Jeffrey, and Justin.
What more can you ask for with a book with magic god-like figures, each with a super cool guardian in the shape of a dragon, or thunderbird? How about tell me why I should care? There is very little that is relatable in this book. We only have one 'human' in this book. The rest are all gods or dragons, or whatever.
There is not enough time spent building the world and its rules for the reader to understand. You're just thrown into the action and I still had questions about the rules of the world at the end.
One thing that irked me, was that the Kami (god like person) aren't allowed to kill a guardian because of the 'rules'. This leads to cool scenes were a dragon, or something appears where the Kami's only choice is to run.
Very clearly inspired by Anime, this just felt like an episode of Power Rangers with very little to relate to.
Also, it's jampacked full with YA cliches. “But you are different. More different than you realize. Different doesn’t have to be bad, Keiko. Sometimes it just means ‘special’ or ‘unique’." “But why me? I’m nobody." As much as she wanted Yui’s friendship, she didn’t like the thought of her father sharing so much with another woman, certainly not one so young and beautiful.
There's also a part where one of the Kami stops during a war to have a freekin' bath!! “Seirin, we can’t afford the delay–” “Nonsense. The stench of war clings to each of you, and Yui’s clothes and skin are stained with dragon blood. A hot bath is exactly what you need to recenter yourselves.” In truth, Seirin chafed at the delay too, but they needed the rest –all of them. Too many had died already; she wouldn’t lose any more to fatigue.
There were also a lot of mistakes, missing words and just downright confusing parts: A moment earlier he’d glimpsed a small change in a section ninety degrees above his castle’s courtyard, a trace of smooth surface in the otherwise rippling fabric. 90 degrees above?
More water covered the surface, for one thing, and even if the liquid looked duller than he remembered, incredibly, most felt more flammable. Water is not flammable.
These two confusing sentences appear of the same page...
If she couldn’t summon her power, she was as good as dead. No...if her power isn't summoned, she will die. Not 'as good as'.
I apologise, this review was a bit more ranty than I prefer, but I couldn't help it. There were good things about this book. The last 100 pages of this book were fairly decent and I liked the whole 'who is the real enemy' thing. It felt like a good commentary on today's world. For me, it just needed more human elements for me to care about what happens in this story.
Mr. Yatsuhashi has a created a work of art with his novel Kojiki. Readers are eased into the waters of his intricate universe and its hierarchy of gods, goddesses and their Guardians. In this way, Yatsuhashi creates a sense of mystery and awe as he unveils his stunning world gradually, delivering one cinematic visual after another. I found myself re-reading portions of the novel to simply savor his imagery.
His characters are built with complexities and nuances that make each of them unique and integral to the overall narrative. His ability to make his multitude of characters relevant to the plot and memorable really impressed me.
With fluid, visceral action scenes, larger than life characters and language that never fails to render his enchanting visuals sharply in the mind's eye, Kojiki by Keith Yatsuhashi deserves 5 stars.
I highly recommend this fantastic novel for lovers of fantasy and action, and for those who want to be swept off their feet and taken places novels have never taken them before.
Kojiki is a fast-paced story, filled with multiple points of veiw and colorful characters. Gripping in just the right spots with plenty of action for this kind of story.Keiko is confused by her father's last wish and takes off to Japan to discern his meaning, setting off events that could mean the end of our world. It's a non-stop rush to defeat the long-awaited Lon-Shan and Vissyus. Yatsuhashi takes you on a ride filled with Spirits and Gaurdians, Light and Dark with plenty of twists to keep you on the edge of your seat. Well written and beautifully described scenes give you the sense you are right there with the characters. I love books that throw a twist to accepted mytholigies and real places. Yatsuhashi does a wonderful job of catching your full attention when you least expect it. I began this book thinking that it would take quite a while, at least 3 chapters, for Keiko to find the gate (and really start the story) her father sent her to find, yet half-way through the first chapter, there it is! There's plenty to keep you interested and I fully recommend Kojiki to anime and fantasy lovers!
This rating reflects the review I received from anime site, Japanator.
Japanator gives Kojiki 8.5 out of 10! Calls it, "Great. Beautifully crafted; well-written, with a loving attention to detail. Among the best of its genre."
Here's the review:
Kristina Pino, May 11, 2013 Japanator.com
A debut novel inspired by Japanese myth and anime
Kojiki is the title of an old Japanese text which attempts to explain where the islands of Japan came from. Among other things, it recounts the stories of the gods and their part in creating the land.
I found that, while reading Keith Yatsuhashi's Kojiki, a modern novel that is by no means an adaptation, though somewhat related (like a distant cousin), curious co-workers around me all asked if I was reading the old book. These myths, the stories of the gods, are so ingrained in history and culture, that it makes the title even more fitting for its content.
Initially, Kojiki follows the story of Keiko Yamanaka as she tries to figure out what she will do with her life following the death of her father. He leaves her with some vague instructions and a death poem, a camera, and a one-way ticket to Japan. Once she gets there though, she starts to realize that the ominous warning of spirits she was left with is more real than she gave it credit for.
Suddenly, Japan is a battleground.
Though we are introduced to Keiko and then Yui as the main heroines, the book is formatted in such a way that each chapter, or section of a chapter, is narrated from the perspective of one (different) character a a time. We get to see a more complete (and complex) story unfold as we read about what's going on with different people around the same time. Keiko and Yui may be the main focus as characters, but I loved that the story is evenly spread out between many players.
Keiko and Yui are young, and have lived their loves very differently. Keiko has enjoyed a fully American lifestyle, far away from Japan and spirits and their kind. Yui is the youngest spirit, and has lived her life being trained for the eventuality of "The Weakening," an event which would herald the return of a once-great spirit who went mad and means to destroy the world. Everything is set in motion years and years before Keiko is born, but both she and Yui become integral parts of the struggle when she accidentally steps through a spiritual boundary in Tokyo and enconters the villain himself. This book was publicized as being inspired by Japanese anime, and I can confirm with absolute certainty that Keith has delivered in that respect. The imagery and descriptions are perfectly suited for it, and in my head everything played out, art-wise, like a cross between the style of Wakfu and Summer Wars. After reading Kojiki, I admittedly spent a little time imagining what an animated adaptation of the story might look like.
There are very few things that hold the book back. There is a heavy assumption being made by the author that his intended audience, presumably anime fans, are familiar with a few daily or commonly used phrases in Japanese. I feel like peppering character dialogue with a foreign language can work, but only if it's apparent to the reader what you are trying to say, regardless of their understanding of the real or made-up language tossed in there. The Japanese words weren't simply brought into dialogue, but also used in the general narrative, including one unnecessary instance of the term "gaijin" rather than sticking to "foreigner" or "non-Japanese."
That being said, it's a given that this book would appeal to fans of anime or enthusiasts of Japan in general. The story is compelling and falls into the realm of fantasy, although it largely takes place in the real world. Just add elemental guardian spirits like huge thunderbirds and fire dragons - basically lots of magic - and you've got the world as written by Keith here. Also, as I said earlier, there are call-backs in this story to the accounts in the original Kojiki, which adds a nice little myth/historical dimension for reads familiar with Japanese legends.
I read this book on Kindle, and you can purchase a copy directly from the publisher for only US$5.99 in any digital format.
I love Japanese and Asian culture, and I am a huge sucker for mythology of any culture. Kojiki tickled all my spots, beautifully written, deep world, terrific characters...great book to let your mind latch on too and absorb. I have no problems with this tale, thanks to Angry Robot for the ARC.
I've never regretted reading a book so much as this one. I would have dnf'ed it after the first 20 pages OR LESS if I didn't feel a slight obligation to finish it for my book club.
One of my biggest issues with this book is the gimmick it uses. "Japanese fantasy" based on Shintoism. That could have been a really cool idea, except it felt like the author took everything Japanese about Shinto and Japanese myths, and threw the culture out the window. Sure, some of the characters are based in Japan (loosely), and there's a few cultural elements. But the culture just feels like it was thrown in for flavor, and the descriptions of Japan and Japanese people feels like exoticism. The "Kami", which are based on an ethnically Japanese religion, are not even Japanese. A few appear to be Japanese, but most seem to live elsewhere without any connection to Japan whatsoever. In fact, the protagonist makes the comment, "If you're a Kami, you can't be Japanese!" Sorry, what?
Another issue I had was how all of the female characters are strong and beautiful and sexy. Phrases like "barely concealed ripe curves" are used, and not a single scene with a female character goes by without mention of her beauty. The female protagonist also spends a lot of time noticing how beautiful women are, and how sexually attractive they are. She notices their hips, breasts, and legs with regular occurrence. And we get to spend a paragraph in her head each time as she notices them. I'm a lesbian, but I surely don't notice or think about women's bodies as much as this girl. In short, I can tell this was written by a man.
The entire first half of the book is flashbacks, storytelling, or explanations. Characters stand or sit around talking to each other about the past or the impending doom. 200 pages of explanation and the world building is still weak. I still don't understand the magic system, and I still don't care about a solitary character. I found myself asking out loud, "Who the fuck cares?" I know I didn't.
Speaking of characters, there's so many that I lost track of who was who. Who's supposed to be important again? Wait, who's that? Where are we? Am I supposed to care about this character?
I recommend this book to no one. Do you like Japan and think the cover is cool? Yeah, you won't like this. Do you know anything about Japan, or have you visited before? Nope, not for you. Do you have a vague interest in Japan and like reading fantasy novels? Closer, but the writing will still bore you to death.
First, I have to say that overall I really liked this story. But I do have a couple of warnings for potential readers:
One passage from Kojiki pretty aptly describes the novel: “Yui had a habit of revealing things like a veil dancer, one tantalizing piece at a time.”
If you’ve never read anything about Japanese culture before, you might not want to start with Kojiki. The beginning was a little confusing. I had to re-read a couple of passages to adequately grasp what was going on – but I think a lot of that was because I have NO education about Tokyo and the city’s layout and characteristics. Also, I understand why the author included short clips/phrases of the Japanese language – but I don’t know Japanese. It would have been nice to have some kind of index at the back that translated the phrases for you. Even though the time it would take to flip to the back for the translation would take away from the flow of the story a little bit, knowing the meaning would have ceased my curiosity and allowed me to move on and focus on the next point in the story. That being said, I thoroughly have enjoyed reading about Japanese mythology. I love to learn about other cultures and this book, although not a nonfiction, reference book, is a great way to introduce someone to the mythology of Japan.
There is a TON of flashbacks going on. The flashbacks do reveal key components to Kojiki, but sometimes there was NO heads-up that I was reading a flashback. Some entire chapters were flashbacks. Sometimes I’d be in the middle of a heavy-action scene and POOF - flashback – then POOF - back to present day. So that was a little confusing – necessary, but confusing. It might have been better had the author changed the font of the flashbacks or made them italics as a way to make it more clear to the reader and easier to grasp.
There are multiple POVs. I’d say this book would be suitable for fans of George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan, Tolkien, and other epic fantasy authors. If you couldn’t stand the changing POVs in these series and the dense, elaborate storyline, including backstory, etc., then do not pick up this book. You must appreciate a meandering, fractured storyline complete with tons of backstory and flashbacks, lots of action, and an abundance of detail.
Other things I enjoyed about Kojiki:
The jisei, a Japanese death poem, was awesome and thought provoking:
"I leave a dream of me behind To protect sun and spirit For they are the light of my soul"
It left me wondering how it was going to be prophetic to the story. And (slight spoiler alert) it wasn’t the only one – there are a handful more throughout the story!
Something I did notice and did appreciate was the absence of typos. As confusing and convoluted as this novel could be at times, the lack of typos is evidence of the time and care the author took with this story.
I also really enjoyed the banter between Aeryk Aeronson and his Guardian Ventyre. Really, every relationship between a Spirit and Guardian was carefully crafted, with each being distinct, different, unique in its own way.
I was ensnared by the dragons – I love dragons! Need I say more?
When Keiko first meets Takeshi (Yui’s father and a Great Spirit), he asked permission to view her memories. I absolutely LOVED the description of Keiko’s “library of memories” that she shows to Takeshi! This is just one example of the author’s ability to paint pictures with words!
Oh yeah, and what’s up with the bald dude in red robes with the white aura who, at the beginning of the story, leads Keiko to the Boundary? I think it was Takeshi, and that may have been explained at some point in the novel, but I’m still uncertain about his true identity.
Overall, the beginning chapters may be a little confusing and dense for the reader, but once past the fifth chapter, the story line really starts to come together and things get really interesting. And I could NOT put it down once I got to the final, epic battle between Spirits and their Guardians. I even shed a tear at one point!
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Appropriate for ages 16 & up.
***I received a free eBook of Kojiki from Goodreads-Making Connections in exchange for an honest review.***
Kojiki is the first in a new series by Keith Yatsuhashi. It suggests a world in which some of the older forces of Japanese legend, the kami and associated myths, are real – some of them sitting behind the scenes in our modern day. They struggle to control a disaster they unleashed on the world, one which could destroy everything if it broke free. As the text opens, that disaster is straining to be unleashed.
The world is our own, familiar in many ways. Modern Tokyo seethes with activity, and the cap of Mount Fuji towers in the popular imagination. People live and work, and in some cases, go on historical tours. The author shows us a land filled with people similar to the reader, just going about their day to day lives. It’s drawn broadly, but with sufficient style that I was able to picture it vividly. Alongside this mostly familiar geography, however, sits one entirely separate. There exist manifestations of elements – air, water spirit, earth, fire – who were once involved in a titanic struggle, which broke the world, and reshaped it into its current form. They live in a space of concept and memory, drawing disciples to them, in a half-world, a liminal space intersecting only marginally with what we think of as real. There are castles in the air, delicate battlements drifting in a breeze. A sturdy rock guardian, shaping and breaking the earth when required. Serried ranks of samurai-disciples, ready to fight and die for their elemental ruler. There’s some wonderfully imaginative set pieces here – volcanic fires, devastated cities, the struggle between elemental s played out against a backdrop of modernity. I would have liked to have delved deeper into the half-world (though there are some rather hefty infodumps throughout) – we see some of how the current situation was created in flashbacks, but there’s a rich mine of mythos here to be excavated – perhaps later books will put it on display.
The characters suffer a little against their backdrops. We’re given a protagonist who enters this strange world of the supernatural at the same time as the reader, and her acclimatisation to this world goes hand in hand with our own. But whilst we’re sat alongside her, I never quite felt that I got to know Keiko. She’s smart, cautious, and occasionally funny. But what drives her to excel, what gives her passion and informs the decisions she makes? This is alluded to gently, over the course of the text, but it needed to be looked at in more depth, I think, some meat put over the bones of the character. She’s perfectly readable, but never quite feels real. The same is true of several of the kami. They seem defined by their elements, and have character traits on display, but we can’t get at the details that define them. Some of this is resolved in flashbacks, again, but glimpses of the past don’t give the characters as a whole enough heft. The exception is the nominal villain, the fire lord – a tormented figure, driven to madness, and defined by love. Here is a complex, well drawn antagonist, one moment a beast, the next displaying noble motives and a mind like a steel trap. His journey, and resolution, bring the characters up considerably – they’re defined in their interctions with what they oppose, and why, and it feels like this struggling, tragic figure is the lynchpin of the narrative.
The plot – well, it starts with a bang, It felt a little confusing in the early stages, as we followed our protagonist in being drenched with information and context, trying to get up to speed. There’s a slow burn happening after a frantic start, but once ti gets going, it’s easy to become invested in the battles between dragons, the fire and ice, the shadow warriors crawling out of woodwork, and so on. There’s a stutter between the slower segments and the rapid-fire action – but the latter is very well done, and the former work well enough as well. Certainly by the end I was flippinmg apges to see what happened, and that’s never a bad thing. It has the florid style mixed with the gently personal touch of a good manga. If you’re in the mood for a unique spin on fantasy, a space where dragons and elementals war with each other over broken Tokyo – then this book is worth your time.
"Kojiki" is, in my opinion, quite a visual story, and would be just as suited if turned into a movie. The author wrote vidi descriptions that allowed me to picture whatever was going on clearly enough—and there was a lot going on. You may not like the story as much as I did if you're not into action-packed plots; if you are, though, then go ahead.
The story may be more geared toward a younger audience, or at least one who is familiar with anime and some of their most popular themes, such as battles between spirits to save the world. However, there's no dumbing-down here, as it also deals with deeper themes (treason, lost love, trust issues, being torn between saving or killing a friend...). I appreciate when books go that road, and don't remain stuck to surface feelings and plots, the way things too often are in such works.
There are a couple of things here I'm not too sure about. For instance, Keiko is quickly thrown into the action—she doesn't spend a third of the book looking for the gate, or getting into the swing of things; part of me was glad about that, while another part thought it may have been a little too abrupt. There are also several characters and points of view to follow; this isn't a problem for me, but, again, I found those just a tad bit heavy to get into at first (which means that readers who are less familiar than I am with POV switches might have a harder time here). Another thing that may detract readers is the use of Japanese language. Someone like me, who speaks just enough of it to understand the (quite basic) vocabulary and sentence structures used here, won't feel lost; on the other hand, I can imagine that someone who doesn't speak the language may not always guess what those words are about (sometimes the context or dialogue provides an explanation... and sometimes not).
On the other hand, I think the whole mythology unfolding in the book should be easy to understand: spirits linked to elements (water, air, nature, earth...), fighting with their guardians (lesser spirits tied to the same elements) to prevent the world from being destroyed. Pretty basic at first sight, except that what could have been your good old black and white morality undergoes a few twists here. While the battle is fought above Japan, the spirits involved aren't only Japanese, and hint at different cultures—in other words, they're not anchored in one time and one place, and truly represent something bigger and older than that. At the same time, much like in legends, those spirits have to contend with their personalities and feelings, and aren't mere concepts: in that regard, they feel like real people, and have depths as characters (which isn't so easy to achieve when you're dealing with what are basically Gods). Perhaps the only character I didn't really get was Lon-Shan; maybe he would have deserved more screen time?
My conclusion: get this book if you're at ease with 3rd person narration with several points of view, enjoy vivid descriptions of scenes and battles, want to get a clear visual of what's happpening, and enjoy diving into plots that involve powerful beings who nevertheless have to deal with human-like problems. If you're into anime on top of it, you'll likely enjoy it even more.
Keiko Yamada is an 18 year old girl, whose father dies suddenly. Her life is turned upside down when she tries to fulfil her father's dying wish of going to Japan to 'Find the Gate. My camera will show you the way'.
Armed with a one way ticket to Japan and an unintelligible death poem about powerful Japanese spirits and their gigantic, beast-like Guardians, she travels, alone and afraid to Tokyo where she experiences her father's death poem come to life.
Ancient spirits invade the city, causing chaos with every minute they are free and Keiko realises why this burden has been inflicted on her...
I am a big fan of Anime and any book that makes me feel like I'm watching an Anime movie...well it gets the immediate thumbs up from me!
The mythical / historical tone of the book is great which really sets this apart from many books I have read recently and the fantasy element, along with the very good description skills help me understand Keiko's pain and dilemma, along with feeling entertained with each turn of the page.
Keiko and Yui (Keiko's guide) are the main characters of this book but I liked how the sub characters also had distinctive parts, so we got to know a lot more, rather than just focusing on the main two.
I liked that Keiko and Yui are very differently as the contrast made it more believable. Keiko is not as experienced in Japanese history about this type of mythology as she has lived in American and embraced their Western lifestyle. Yui is completely different as she has grown up being trained to eventually take on the "The Weakening" (This is an event which would summon the return of a once-great spirit, who went insane and wants to destroy the world).
All these plans were set in motion before Keiko was born but when she decided to fulfil her father's wish, both she and Yui become part of the battle in Tokyo as she encounters "The Weakening" herself.
Now, although I enjoyed that the book did give focus to the sub characters, I did feel at times that the flashbacks and the introduction to these new characters did throw me a little and sometimes I was left wondering, ‘was that section really needed as I didn’t understand if some parts actually added to the main plot, however, that being said, I did enjoy this book as I found the author had really done his research on Japanese mythology and I would be looking forward to reading more of his work.
I would give this 4 out of 5 wings for originality, the Japanese mythology, the strong characters and the good description skills as I actually felt like I was in the story but I had to take off 1 point as although I enjoyed the wide range characters, it did get to a point where I was a little overwhelmed with them. Also there are Japanese words in the book without meanings which threw me a little.
Disclaimer: This book was given to Fiery Fantasy Book Reviews as a review copy and was provided to us in exchange for a fair and honest review. There was no monetary exchange for this review. The free book held no determination on our personal review.
I received a lovely email from the author, read the blurb and thought – damn I need to give this a go. I love anything to do with myth and legends, and it even involves Japan – so how could I resist when it has everything!! It’s set in the modern day Japan but with ancient aspects thrown in there. Its about this young woman named Keiko, who believes that she’s just an ordinary, American born, Japanese … until her dad dies and she agrees to his last wish, to go to Tokyo. Well that’s when she’s thrown into a word of Spirits, Dragons, God’s and Magic – it’s one of those, ‘You need to see, to believe it’ kinda things. Now throw in a bad guy that looks like a kid and we have a receipt for an adventure that legends are made of!
Okay, let me start by saying ZOMG! Just reading the first chapter, I found myself totally gripped. You go from simply being introduce to main character Keiko, to being thrown into a mythological prophecy, with dragons, spirits and magic, love, romance, fighting, power struggles – the list goes on … How can I not already love it! The plot is so well thought out, you can almost see the author’s mind ticking over with each and every paragraph.
I suppose I should talk about the characters – well they are full to the brim with personality. You really feel for them, as the story progresses and you unravel ancient truths about their lives and what they have endured through their life – which being a Spirit or God, is a bloody long time (so lots to divulge). Now you have these Spirits and each has a Guardian, which seems to be a dragon – let me tell you, these enormous beast are not just background noise, to appear when needed and vanish like a fleeting thought. They have real personalities of their own, even to the point of being cheeky and comical.
Please read the rest of my review on the link below!!
I love reading about gods. They are the main reason I started a lot of series like the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson or The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne by Brian Staveley (to cite just a few): gods fascinate me. So, when I read the blurb of Koijiki, I knew that I needed to give this book a try.
Koijiki follows the story of Keiko, an eighteen years old girl who travels to Tokyo after the disapperance of her father who left her with a mysterious note: “Go to Japan in my place. Find the Gate. My camera will show you the way.” Of course, when she gets to Tokyo, she discovers that she's part of something bigger, something that may include an old quarrel between the Gods that created Japan, and she has to do everything in her power to save the world she knows.
In this book, Japaneses legends meet Modern Tokyo, dragons set fire to subways and teenagers befriend spirits.
I seriously wish this book could be turn into a Studio Ghibli anime or in a graphic novel, it would be fantastic and suit perfectly the story. It was very easy to picture the world, Yastuhashi didn't drown the book in descriptions but everything setting felt real. Usually when I read, I can't picture every scenes in my head (because of the excess (or lack sometimes) of descriptions), but, reading Koijiki, I realized that I could and it was a really neat experience.
Koijiki is a good YA book, the heroine is smart, funny and it was easy to relate to .However, I would have liked to know a little more about her and since the book was pretty short and fast paced, I felt like I did not have time for that, which was a tad disappointing. Also, I found that some dialogues were a bit awkward, I couldn't really imagine actual people talking like in real life but, overall, the writing was pretty good and easy to get through so it didn't pull me out of the story as much as it could have. Koijiki is a debut-novel so it's not that surprising and I'm sure that Keith Yastuhashi will improve that in future books!
So, if you are looking for a YA full of Japanese legends, give Koijiki a try, it's quick, I never read something quite like it before and, I forgot to mention it before, but, it doesn't have any of the YA tropes that I dislike. Yes, you heard/read me correctly, there are no love triangles or heroines who act before they think: here you'll find female friendships, cool spirits, dragons, gods and a good dose of action.
I would really liked to rate this book as 3 1/2 stars, but because I can't I rounded up.
I'm a fan of anything Japanese lately so when I was able to get a copy of this book to review I jumped all over it. I don't think there has been a book that had me liking so many things but feeling like I was gearing up for battle to read it. I liked the book a lot, but it took me about half the book before I entered my reading zone.
There is a ton of different characters and I had a hard time keeping track of who was who and what role everyone played in the beginning. The book is told from all these different point of views, which is something I normally love, but this time it made it harder for me to grasp what was going on. For the first half of the book I was really confused, and kept feeling like I missed some important piece of information somewhere. But as everything progressed and I started to get a feel for everyone it became much easier to follow.
I really loved the way the different gods where portrayed. I'm in no way an expert when it comes to Japanese culture so I can't really judge on that front, but to me it seemed like it was being put across as correct, and I guess that is all that really matters.
I do have to say that putting Japanese words in might not have been the best of ideas. Because I watch anime almost as much as I read I was able to know what words meant what most of the time, and the few times I didn't and tried to look them up with my kindle I didn't get the meaning so it got frustrating.
The plot itself started of confusing but started to make more and more sense the farther into the book you got. When it was all said and done I was very satisfied with the ending and how everything pulled together. There wasn't any lose endings dangling around all my questions where answered.
Would I recommend this book? Yes and maybe. Yes to people the enjoy Japanese culture and maybe to people that aren't very interested in it.
On a side note. . . I would suggest to the author to put a glossary in somewhere. Most of the Japanese words used are the same through out the entire book so having the meanings somewhere would be really helpful. Also a match of god and guardian would have been really helpful as well.
**Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a honest review.**
Kojiki is the incredibly detailed and fast paced story of revenge, love and redemption. We follow Keiko, a young girl fulfilling her father’s last request:
Go to Japan in my place. Find the Gate. Your camera will show you the way.
With this strange request, Keiko’s whole life - her past, present and her destiny - is irrevocably changed. She stumbles upon a seemingly impossible truth: Kami –great spirit gods- exist, and they are about to enter into a battle that could destroy the world as she knows it.
This is a beautifully descriptive story that interlaces many of the origin myths and folklores. Whilst primarily focusing on the Japanese myths, Yatsuhashi expands this to include elements of the Norse, Celtic and Middle Eastern traditions. The result is a charmingly woven story that captures the imagination and encourages the reader to learn more about these traditional stories and beliefs. The settings and characters are also described in such detail that the reader connects to them in such a way that you really feel their struggle to come to terms with what they must do. Their sacrifices, love, bonds, loyalties, betrayals, friendships and lessons are ours too.
The pace of this novel is set early - and it is fast. From the very first chapter the reader is thrown into the unknown along with our primary protagonist Keiko. Much like Keiko, it can take a breath or two for the reader to find their feet. Mystical creatures, multiple dimensional worlds, battles and dramatic escapes are all upon you within the first few pages and from then on it only gets faster. It is only by the time you reach the second third of the novel that you really begin to establish who everyone is and what is happening. If Yatsuhashi’s intention was to keep us on our toes and make us truly empathise with Keiko then he achieves this because we only settle into the story after Keiko learns the truth of who she is and what is happening around her. After this point the tale becomes a smooth - yet epic – battle to save not only the world but the mind and heart of a fallen comrade.
Despite struggling to settle into the story at first I found this a magical tale. The best accolade I can give this book is to say that it left me thoroughly satisfied and heartbroken all at once.
I have always been fond of reading books that are based on Mythology, from Greek, Roman, and Egyptian and now, I tried reading this book, Kojiki with a different type of Myth, the Japanese Mythology. Since I was a high school student, I have been a great fan of mangas, anime, and Japanese language. I told myself, why won't I try to read this book and enhance my little knowledge about Japanese Myths. Then and there after finish reading the book, I have no regrets of what I've done.
Action-packed, full of happenings, fantastic, and colorful,
this book of Keith, Kojiki, is kinda different but this book is not far from being a good Rick Riordan book. What I've noticed about this book is that it is very intricate with details and they little by little described.
Next, the characters of the book are so captivating.
Yui, the main character, was already a 100 year old plus girl but she doesn't remember a thing because her father, a very great guardian, hid her memories and locked them to keep her safe. That is why also that she still has a face and a body of a teenager. Her father has the ability to do those. She doesn't know what powers she had until she will open her memories and she will remember everything.
The idea of having the gods of Japan fight each other for power and have rivalries is cool. As I know, Japan has a very wide and colorful background. They have lots of gods and they have lots of guardians and they have a very wonderful culture. With this book, the very idea of making it into a fantastic and a young adult book is awesome. It was creatively sewn into detailed kimonos or tapestries that can be placed anywhere. It is basically, a good show of awesome talent binded with an awesome background.
Another thing that wonders me a lot is the way my imagination turns out inside my mind. It is swirling into different kinds of stuffs while reading this book. You can really feel and see how the powers look or feel
A lot of things happened inside this book making it a fantastic read but the details are sometimes confusing and it makes the book so long and sometimes boring , but still a good book. :)
I had my reservations about this book in the beginning and thought I'm not going to be able to get in to this story I probably won't even like it I thought to myself. I could not have been more wrong! I couldn't put it down. As a matter of fact I am re-reading it right now to see what I may have missed the first time. The elements in this story just took my breath away. Every scene is so well described that you can picture it all as it plays right out in front of you off every page. Without being overdone KeithYatsuhashi did an amazing job with the characters as well. You couldn't help but love them. Just like every adventure story you have your good guys and at least one villain and there is no shortage of that in this story you quickly get a glimpse of both good and bad in here you just have to learn who really is the good guy and who the true villain is come on you didn't expect me to tell you who they are and spoil the thrill ride for you did you?Kojiki holds so many layers to it. I was just blown away by the detail and time given to this story to make it so that every reader had just enough room to let your imagination flow through to make the story your own as it plays out. I so enjoyed the characters Keiko is such a wonderful character that gets thrown into a world she doesn't understand all while she is trying to still grieve the loss of her beloved father. Yui Akiko takes the world by storm and helps Keiko try to figure all of this stuff out. Yui has her own way of doing things though and rather than slowly introducing things slowly she is left to give Keiko a crash course of what she needs to know. As Keiko learns what must be done to save the world from the evil that lurks to destroy it she must also figure out what this all has to do with her and why her father's dying wish was for her to go Japan and discover a gate and herself. Kojiki was a thrill ride right from the beginning that you barely have time to catch your breath before you are off again with a bang! I can't believe how much I enjoyed this story! I would highly recommend Kojiki to anyone who wants a high paced action packed grab you by the seat of your pants adventure. 5/5
"Yui wiped her forehead with the back of her hand in a futile attempt to clean away a heavy residue of dirt and sweat. “Hold on!” She drew the energy bubble in close and launched it from the platform. 'We’re going for a ride.'"
That's how author Keith Yatsuhashi opens this epic story of ancient gods, or spirits, and gigantic monsters. And what a ride it is. From the opening pages set in the modern Ginza, right through the climactic battle over Mt. Fuji, this book never slows down. It has a kinetic momentum that builds with each chapter. The main character, an eighteen-year-old Japanese-American woman named Keiko, arrives in Japan after her father dies, leaving her orphaned. Events quickly spin out of control, and she finds herself in the middle of a war between the very spirits who once ruled the Earth.
Keiko is fully realized; funny, engaging, strong, and not afraid to stand up to the gods and tell them what for! The other characters are equally impressive, including the 'Guardians', giant creatures from just about every myth you can think of. Unlike most such creatures, Mr. Yatsuhashi's Guardians are wise and noble, and are more counselors to the gods than anything else. Except when it come to fighting. And fight they do. In spectacular fashion. Suffice it to say, you've never ready anything like this. Once the spirits unleash these Guardians, all bets are off.
The spirits themselves are decidedly human. Their story is really at the heart of Kojiki; and it's incredibly both poignant and tragic. You feel for them and what they have to do to one of their closest friends. I won't spoil it for you, but by the end, you'll need to keep those tissues handy.
Kojiki is epic, elegant, and incredibly original. It's a perfect summer read! It has everything: love, loss, redemption. And did I mention dragons???? Two hundred foot long asian dragons! And a thunderbird, sea serpent, and--oh just go read it. NOW!
Kojiki's available as an ebook only. You can find buy links on the author's Goodreads page.
I was really excited to read Kojiki. I am a big fan of Hayao Miyazaki and when I read the synopsis for Kojiki I knew that I just had to read it. And boy am I glad that I did.
Kojiki delivered on everything that I hoped it would, great action, magic, adventure, characters, mystery, and what would certainly be mind blowing special effects if it were a movie. At least the way it played out in my mind. With the way that Keith Yatsuhasi wrote this book you can't possibly imagine yourself watching the next Hayao Miyazaki movie. If your not a fan of Anime then imagine yourself watching the next Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon! The action is absolutely mind blowing. There are so many elements in every sequence that it literally leaves you in awe. And I absolutely loved Keith Yatsuhasi's spin on elemental magic and Japanes lore.
Every aspect of Kojiki left me wanting more. The characters were great. With every character getting a spotlight in the story. Though the story was told from multiple POV's it never got confusing or strayed from the overall story. In fact the change in POV's only helped to add to the flow of the story. With every POV change we got to see a glimpse into who each of the characters were and the role they played in the complex story that Keith Yatsuhasi created. And like in every story you have characters you love, characters you hate and characters you love to hate.
From start to finish Kojiki took me on a magical ride that I would never forget. Giving me a new appreciation for the magic of dragons and the culture around us.
*Received a free copy in exchange for an honest review
Kojiki is one of those novels you read that you won’t soon forget. It’s an intense read. You meet a lot of characters and you learn about their part in this mythical war against forces and powers beyond earth’s realm. I loved that it is set in Japan. This is not a book you will read in one sitting, there is a lot going on. Its a bit of overwhelm and lots to keep track of but keep reading as the story pulls together and takes you on an incredible journey. This is a very visual book, the author did a really good job of taking you on this action-packed adventure in a vivid way. It’s quite a ride.
Keiko thinks she is fulfilling her father’s dieing request to visit Japan only there is much more to it than she could ever imagine. Her life is drastically changed, she is immediately thrown into a world of mythical forces – dragons, firestorms. She thought she was normal until she discovers that her father was not who she thought he was but that he’d hidden her true memories of herself and her life from her.
It is an intriguing read of with so many elements to it. I was given a copy as part of a book blog tour.
This isn't a book from a genre that I usually read, but the synopsis intrigued me and in a way reminded me a little of Middle earth.
Kojiki, is skillfully woven with lavish descriptions that enable the reader to picture in vivid detail each and every moment as you read. I did worry at the beginning whether this attention to detail would slow the pace of the story down but it didn't, in fact I would say it enhanced it for me.
The story focuses on Keiko, who has just lost her father, and as part of his final wishes she travels to Tokyo with her camera and her father's death poem. A blend of myths and folklore are explored and bought to life in the pages of this book, and I found that I did become immersed in the characters, their struggles, battles, friendships and ultimately Keiko's decision as to whether she honor's her fathers final wishes.
It did take me a few chapters to get into it, but take my advice and stick with it as it is worth the effort. I would definitely consider a book in this genre again.
ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
3.5 stars. I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a review.
Kojiki is a story based on Japanese mythology. I have never read any Japanese mythology so I found it quite interesting. Most authors, especially those geared toward a YA audience, seem to drag plot lines out and turn what could be just one book into at least two, so I went into this expecting it to take Keiko a good portion of the book to find the gate. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the gate is found right in the first chapter and the action starts pretty much right away as well. In fact this book is packed with lots of action. The only real drawbacks for me were, not enough character development on Keiko's part, and the characters of Lon Shan and Paitr seemed a bit wasted or not really needed. Overall a good read.
This thrill ride of a book has it all. There is action bursting on every page. Contained within the perfectly placed pages where you slow down to catch a breath, is an abundance of heart and story. As you battle onward with the vivid characters, the origin of all this warfare unveils itself to the reader. Emotions well inside of you at the loss of innocence and the heartache of fallen friends. I am not a crier in public. I prefer to spend my tears in private, but my eyes were clouded in misty turbulence as I finished this book. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves their action with a beautiful story of friendship, devastation, and redemption.
Well, I didn't get on with this one, you can probably tell from the rating. I finished it because I have the sequel that promises giant robots, but it was hard work all the way.
I was incredibly confused, I just could not understand what was going on. It's very fast paced and it jumps between different points of views, with lots of flashbacks.
Every page is overloaded with information and massive info dumps. There's a lot of the characters thinking, telling each other things they should really already know, and having over the top reactions to everything. It's packed with things like this every other page: "Keiko tried to swallow a sense of foreboding. The enormous space closed in around her. An uncomfortable tickle surfaced in the deepest part of her head. It moved to her fingertips, so like the connection she felt to her camera and yet profoundly different – more… powerful."
The writing itself is confusing and hard to follow. It was hard to read for long in one go because I had to stop to keep thinking about what was happening, jumping backwards and forwards to reread parts. It made me feel drained and finishing it was hard work. This is just one example: "You cannot hide from me, Trickster!” the man bellowed. “There is nowhere left to go!” He laughed then, a wild, roaring sound that hurt Paitr’s ears. “I know the Teacher was here. This place reeks of her magnificent power. What have you done with her?” Paitr watched the man approach, neither slowing nor pausing. His fires flared once against the darkness before he disappeared into the striated wall. Less than a heartbeat later, a second figure materialized a mile or so to the east. Unlike the first, this one remained spectral. “He’s moving easily through the Boundary,” it said, turning to the shimmering wall above. “How long can you keep him inside?” The Boundary flashed in reply. “I can hold until you are ready."
There is some (very obvious) world building, but it didn't actually work because I'm still confused. It felt too much like the author talking to me and the scenes and the action are not described well. I didn't get a feel for the places and it all felt fuzzy, despite the heavy-handed descriptions.
It's very fast paced, like reading the plot for a film. Each scene only lasts for a few pages before it jumps into another action sequence with different characters, and then another somewhere else.
I think there's a lot of good ideas in here (loved the guardians!), and the author obviously has a big story thought out that he's spent a lot of time on. Maybe don't try to tell it all at once though?
It felt endless.. the time it took me to finish this book. I also just skipped through the last pages not even reading all of it. You could also say that I did not finish it.
I was expecting more from this book, so it was a big disappointed when reading this. I could not identify at all with any of the characters. A lot of power, spirits and gods. It did not feel like a story but more like senseless fighting between spirits and gods. I did not see the sense in it at all. There was only one human in the book and she was immediately thrown into the world of spirit and accepted it like it was nothing special.
An interesting read. Awesome descriptions of action and location. I wish it had been longer, or broken up into two books. It threw a lot at you the whole ride through and I wasn't able to form any significant emotional attachment to any of the characters. Otherwise, a cool concept! And I loved the focus on Japan and its culture.
I wanted to like this book. I wanted to like it a lot. I’m a bit of a Japanophile, and so when I encounter speculative fiction with a Japanese bent, I usually am more than willing to give it a try. It seemed like it was going to be really interesting, based on the synopsis.
I didn’t like this book. In the end, it was a mess of problems, and it was a major struggle to keep going.
The first problem I had with it was the most obvious once you start getting into the meat of the story: the gratuitous Japanese. Let me clarify that. The gratuitous bad Japanese. Technically grammatically correct, if you only ever use a single verb tense and don’t know much about when certain terms or phrases are used. The constant use of “so desu” and “honto desu” and everything desu made it sound as though every character speaking Japanese was doing so after having spent half a semester in an elementary Japanese class and had never heard a Japanese person actually speak. And when these characters are supposed to be native speakers of the language, it’s just cringe-inducing.
There was also no point to it. These characters expressed time and again that they were perfectly capable of speaking fluent English, which was the protagonist’s native language. They just interjected random Japanese in their sentences. Not in places where it’s culturally appropriate, or where there’s a term that doesn’t translate very well. Just put there as flavour, as though to constantly remind the reader that these people are still Japanese. It wasn’t even done very well as a contextual or educational thing. Sometimes you’d get lines like, “Wakarimasu. Let’s go,” where most people who don’t know much about the Japanese language would assume that wakarimasu means “let’s go.” It doesn’t. It means, “I understand.” No context. And then you get lines like Yui’s, “So desu, oni. Ikimasho!” No translation. Nothing close to context. It’s said right before two people fight, so maybe you can assume that it might have something to do with that, but unless you already know a decent amount of Japanese or are willing to keep a dictionary on hand (or just don’t care about translating anything at all), you have no clue what was actually said. (It’s something akin to, “It is so, devil. Let’s go!” Which only half makes sense in the context of the scene.)
Now let’s talk about the concept of names. Two characters made me think that the author was either playing with some weirdness without making it very clear, or else doesn’t know that surnames and given names aren’t just interchangeable. Yui Akiko. I winced when I first saw the name, given that both are given names, but about 30 seconds on Google taught me that Akiko can actually be a surname, albeit a fairly uncommon one. Then there’s Matsuda Yamanaka. Both surnames. Matsuda is supposed to be the character’s given name. That made me wonder if I was actually giving the author too much credit when it came to the use of Akiko as a surname.
Takeshi, the patriarch of a semi-divine family, was hit or miss when it came to names, too. Takeshi can be a surname, though I’m far more familiar with its use as a given name, which gave the unsettling and somewhat giggle-worthy impressing that every time the protagonist said, “Mr. Takeshi,” it was the equivalent of me addressing my roommate’s father as, “Mr. Bob.”
As for the writing, I can’t say it was bad, exactly. It was all right, it held some potential, but it was largely unpolished, unrefined. The pacing was far from smooth. At times it was unclear whether I was reading something occurring in the present or as a flashback until about 3 pages into the scene. The quality of the imagery in the book was sporadic, ranging from a very clear picture of what was going on, to a jumble of images that could be either chaotic or else so removed and distant that at times I wasn’t even sure what was going on. Call me crazy, but I would think that while the entire city of Tokyo is literally burning, it would warrant a little more than a single passing sentence, seeing as how the characters in question were trying to escape from it at the time.
This wasn’t a book I would read again. This wasn’t a book I enjoyed reading even once. It was an interesting concept with very poor execution, and the only thing I can really say that I’m glad of is that I’m finished reading it. It was a true struggle for me to want to continue with, and I think it was only my stubborn determination not to leave a book unfinished that kept me going. I wouldn’t recommend this book, even to those with an interest in Japanese culture. Actually, make that especially with an interest in Japanese culture, because you’re not actually going to see any here. You’re going to see bad language-use, poor understanding of how many things work, and maybe some of the action scenes could be enjoyable, if you can wrap your head properly around what’s going on due to the fuzzy imagery. Give this book a miss; it really isn’t worth it.