Will be writing a review on this tomorrow (this is more a reminder to myself then to you guys, but, here is a gif of a cat who is so disappointed in iWill be writing a review on this tomorrow (this is more a reminder to myself then to you guys, but, here is a gif of a cat who is so disappointed in itself it just collapses. Enjoy)
Actual rating is 4.5, but, fuck it, I rounded up. Okay, as my first real review back since I basically dropped off the face of the earth (college plu Actual rating is 4.5, but, fuck it, I rounded up. Okay, as my first real review back since I basically dropped off the face of the earth (college plus job plus trying to just have a normal life is incredibly more difficult than I thought it would be. Surprise, surprise), I decided I would start off with a review of a book that I really, really enjoyed.
Just let me tell you something: I truly enjoy books in two very different ways. One way is that I literally sit there and read a book until its completion, not saying anything, just completely enraptured by it. But, then, there's the second way, where I get to a part and I am literally so filled with emotion that I just have to put the book down and re-collect myself before I can even move on. This was one of those times, let me tell you.
Stormdancer and one of my favorite female protagonists of the year so far, Yukiko, was kick-ass incredible for so many reasons that I would probably run out of word count for this review if I tried to describe it all, and many of my other lovely reviewer friends have already loved this book to death, as well, so I will try and keep it to the main things that I loved the most about this book:
Now, I know many of you may or may not be surprised by this and I know that's why some people rated this book three stars or below because it just got too wordy, a little bit confusing in the way it kept switching perspectives, and took too long to truly get started, but Kristoff's writing had me praisin' the lord like a black church sermon
I, personally, found it absolutely incredible, and maybe because I'm so starved for such a beautifully descriptive type of writing that is only really found it books before the 20th century these days, and the fact that, although I was slightly bored in the beginning, that was all part of Kristoff's plan. I enjoyed the challenge of trying to keep pace with him and truly read the book. He filled it with so many Japanese/Asian lore and stories and, just in my own personal opinion, we don't get enough of that really amazing culture in books. And they're missing out, let me tell you.
But, anyways, because he spent so much time on Yukiko, her life before she meets Buruu (aka mister badass griffon who gives no shits), that, without me even knowing it, I became truly invested in her life and took on her story as my own. When she was angry at her father, I never questioned her anger, never thought for even a moment that maybe her father had other motives than what Yukiko thought he was: just a drunkard druggie who only cared about regaining his past fame. Sure, Kristoff uses a lot of words, but he puts each of them carefully in their place. He doesn't waste them. He purposefully didn't give us many scenes from Yukiko's father's point of view until after Yukiko and him split up for that specific purpose. He wanted us to hate him and let Kristoff truly build up the dichotomy between them, but, before I get too off-track about relationships and I get to my portion about just that, let me get back to the writing.
Because I think it's fucking gorgeous. It is a stud of writing; a majestic horse whose words are made out of spun literary gold
Just like this horse. Oh, you majestic words, you but seriously check out this horse it literally looks like it fell from heaven WHAT IS THIS
Just let me show you the difference between writing that people say this book is like, and what the actual book contains. Here's an excerpt from Shatter me; a novel that I personally had a problem with where the author wasn't a bad writer, but some of the descriptions she used were just too much and I had a serious problem understanding and could never fully connect with her character:
I always wonder about raindrops.
I wonder about how they're always falling down, tripping over their own feet, breaking their legs and forgetting their parachutes as they tumble right out of the sky towards and uncertain end. It's like someone is emptying their pockets over the earth and doesn't seem to care where those pockets fall, doesn't seem to care if the raindrops burst when they hit the ground, that they shatter when they fall to the floor, that people curse the days the drops dare to tap on their doors.
I am a raindrop.
My parents emptied their pockets of me and left me to evaporate on a concrete slab
I mean just what the fuck. It's rain. There are plenty of other, better ways, to try and relate yourself to something inanimate; even to rain if you're really that stubborn on the metaphor, and this certainly isn't it. I'm just left scratching my head and wondering how in the hell I'm supposed to relate to someone who think that raindrops have arms and legs and are always forgetting about their fucking parachutes and dreading evaporation.
And here's Kristoff's writing that reveals something about Yukiko's character towards the beginning of the novel:
The crowd in front of them parted, stepping out of the path of an iron motor-rickshaw marked with the kanji symbols of the Lotus Guild. Yukiko stayed in the street as the sputtering metal beast rolled toward her on thick rubber tires, bulbous headlights aglow, spewing blue-black fumes into the air behind. It creaked to a stop a few inches short of colliding with her shins. The driver sounded the horn, but Yukiko refused to step aside. The driver blasted the horn again, waving at her to get out of the road. His profanities were muffled behind the beach glass windshield, but Yukiko could still make out the best of them. She plucked a noodle from her bowl, popped it between her lips and chewed slowly.
“Come on.” Akihito grabbed her by the arm and dragged her out of the way.
Like all its brethren, the Lotusman was encased head to foot in a brass atmos-suit, studded with fixtures and gears and spinning clockwork, shielding it from the pollution the rest of the populace breathed daily. Its helmet was insectoid, all smooth lines and sharp curves. A cluster of metallic tentacles spilled from its mouth, plugged via bayonet fixtures into the various contraptions riveted to its outer shell: breather bellows, fuel tanks and the mechabacus that every Guildsman wore on its chest. The device resembled an abacus that had been dipped in glue and rolled around in a bucket of capacitors, transistors and vacuum tubes, and the Lotusman clicked a few beads across its surface, staring at Yukiko with red, faceted eyes as the vehicle cruised past. Although the rank-and-file members of the Guild were referred to as “Lotusmen,” their gender was actually impossible to determine.
She blew it a kiss anyway.
When the motor-rickshaw was a good distance away, Akihito released his grip on Yukiko’s arm and sighed.
“Why do you always get in their way?”
“Why do you always move?”
Ugh. I just love her personality. But I'll get to that later. And here's one more that displays more of his literary flare:
But then she tasted the rain on her lips, felt the wind in her hair, heard the roar of the storm around them. And so she closed her eyes, threw her head back and inhaled. She could see the lightning flashing against the bloodwarm blackness behind her eyelids, feel the wind buffeting the ship beneath them. The rain was a balm, washing away the fear. She breathed, cool air filling her lungs, warm blood pumping below her skin. Kin screamed beside her, a whooping holler as the deck rolled like a storm-tossed ocean beneath them. “We are alive, Yukiko-chan! We are free!”
She laughed, calling out shapeless words into the storm. It was as if she were a little girl again, running with her brother through the rippling bamboo, strong and bright, wet earth beneath her feet. She could feel the lives she swam among, the hundred tiny sparks rising like cinders from a bonfire, catching her up and filling her with warmth. No fear. No pain. No loss. Before any and all of it had come in from the dark, when the simple act of being was enough. She stretched out her senses into the tempest, mind uncoiling between the raindrops, engulfed by the beauty and ferocity around her.
...easily the most magnificent sight Masaru had seen in his life. It was power personified. The storm made flesh, carved from the clouds by Raijin’s hands, his children let loose to rollick in ozone-flecked chaos. The old tales said their wings made the sound of the thunder. The lightning was the sparks from their claws as they did battle across the heavens. The rain was Susano-ō’s tears, the Storm God overcome with the beauty and ferocity of his grandchildren. Thunder tiger. Arashitora. “Beautiful,” Kasumi breathed. The hindquarters of a white tiger, rippling muscle bound tight beneath snow-white fur, slashed with thick bands of ebony. The broad wings, forelegs and head of a white eagle, proud and fierce; lightning reflected in amber irises and pupils of darkest black. It roared again, shaking the ship, cutting through the air like a katana in a swordsaint’s hands.
Okay that was more like two. I admit it I am a liar but I could not help myself.
I just hope that you all can see the difference between the two books and how they describe things and themselves. One edges on ridiculousness and leaves me trying to fit two and two together with no help from the author, and the other just carries you along in a flurry of literary delight that you cannot tear your eyes off of and just revel in the way you can actually see what the author is talking about.
The Story, Overall Plot
Now, in this review, I'm not really going to say much in detail about the book, which is really a nod to Kristoff that I care so much about you having a completely pure experience with this novel that I'm not going to spoil it, but it is incredible. I loved all of the history, stories, and the steam-punk angle, which is a very tricky idea to truly make work and not seem completely foreign and strange, but Kristoff does just that. Makes it feel real. Now, would I want to live there? No, because, as plainly in the first book of this series, they are in poverty, fighting a pointless war that no one really seems to know why the are fighting, and are destroying their own country although I wouldn't mind living in the Kigen mountains . Basically; they are in deep shit. But that doesn't mean I still can't enjoy the world and its setting. There is actual growth, great character development, this novel tackles actual, hit-you-in-the-gut issues, and leaves you emotionally exhausted when you finally finish. But the last thing I want to talk to you guys about is...
Before I say anything and begin to truly fangirl, here is a gif representation of my feelings about these two:
I cannot even begin to describe the amount of love I have for this pair and how they have such a realistic relationship and grow from hate, to tolerate, to like, to have such an incredible bond with one another; they literally grow and develop each other and get them to look at the world in a completely different way then they had before. And one of them isn't even fucking human. But it's one of the best connections between two beings that I've ever read, and when a scene comes along when they completely bond to each other and do some kick-ass fighting, completely in tandem with one another, will have you sitting there with your jaw on the floor (aka two gifs above for a physical representation of said jaw-dropping)
And they are just as awesome separate as they are apart. Yukiko, as displayed in some of the book excerpts I added in here, is a strong, independent, stubborn girl with a very finite sense of right and wrong, but is still willing to change her conceptions and grow as a character. She knows how to fight like a badass and has a backstory that is introduced to you in just the right amount of doses that you feel like you know more about her than she does about herself, and, as I said before, you become invested in her and her struggles; personally and nationally.
And Buruu? He is one of the most majestic and ferocious creatures I've ever read about, and grows as an individual more than Yukiko does. He starts out as not exactly primitive or stupid in the least, but he was very set in his way of knowing things, but, because of Yukiko and the mental bond they share, he develops, understands the human language, thinks outside of just himself and automatically making judgements (aka killing) others. He grows more elaborate, adds on layers to his already complex personality. It's a testament to his character that the moment he's introduced is when the story picks up, and not just because of his presence, but because of who he is, or was, depending on how you look it at.
Just high five, Kristoff. High five
Just read this book. The only reason I knocked off half a star was because, yes, the story in the beginning is just a little slow, but it's all important to the story, and it lets you go back, remember a part, and go "Ohhhhhhh that's why that happened." And I don't know about you, but I really enjoy stories that allow for such development. Taking it longer to develop is a concession I'm willing to make. And a concession you should make, too, so you can join me in squealing at richness of this story like a little girl.
Or, a Moiarty, but that's basically the same thing. ...more