26 December 2014

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.

The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger – a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire. 

This being the second failed attempt to finish this book, here is my determination: Stormdancer is the tall, sleek distant cousin who comes to Christmas dinner in a black dress and pearls and a stone-faced expression and you're too damned intimidated to even ask her to pass the mashed potatoes.

Given that I have not seen the book through to the end (I actually only got about fifty pages in), I cannot intelligently speak to the plot.  I do wonder, though, just how much plot can be shoved in between so much description.

I do not doubt Jay Kristoff's writing ability at all.  He has a great way of putting things--slamming words together in combinations I hadn't considered before.  What I question is his storytelling ability. There so much description that I found myself skimming several pages looking for where the story picked back up again.  My awe in the cleverness in his world building fades when I have to read two pages of it when truly clever writers know how to present plot and world building in equal measure.

What I took in of the world was brilliant.  I could easily picture what used to be a grand city now on crutches in the wake of industrialism.  I enjoyed the saturation of an obviously Japanese-inspired culture and atmosphere.  It is a kind of world that I find fascinating.

I will watch and envy this intimidating cousin from afar, but ultimately, be glad when she finally leaves.

(This is another steampunk I have not enjoyed.  Are they hiding all the good ones from me?  Could you recommend your favorite so that I can get in on the fun?)

Book Info:
  • pages - hardcover, 313
  • published - September 2012
  • publisher - Thomas Dunne Books
  • genre - steampunk
  • received via - library :)
  • rating - 3/5
  • series - The Lotus Wars
    • Stormdancer
    • Kinslayer
    • Endsinger