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.
AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST
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.
A SIXTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL
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.
Released: September 18, 2012 Pages: 336
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Source: ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley
First Look: ***** First of all, let's hear it for NetGalley. I had to read the entire thing on my iPod, but I still got to read it, so...yay! I was interested as soon as I first heard about this book. Japanese steampunk? How could I possibly turn that down? And then I saw the cover...it's fabulous. It simply begs you to read it.
Setting: ***** Again...Japanese steampunk. How cool is that? It's just one of those things where I could slap myself and say "Why didn't I think of that?" Jay Kristoff did a great job with it, too. Everything was so detailed, and I could clearly see the setting around me as I read.
The dystopian aspect of it was interesting, too. The setting itself had a story. Many other dystopian books should take a lesson from this. This land was messed-up, but Kristoff gave us a reason why it was messed up. He explained it. He gave us backstory. He didn't just hand us a dystopia and expect us not to wonder what happened to it.
Characters: ***** My only major complaint is with Yukiko. I liked her, and she was an interesting character. I could feel for her, and her emotions really came through the pages. But I wanted to know more about her backstory. We heard a bit about her childhood, but not much apart from that. If she's sixteen, she can't have spent the last few years sitting at home all day. So what did she do? Why did she get to go on the mission to catch the arashitora? It didn't make sense.
Out of all the characters, though, Buruu is definitely my favorite. He's not human, and yet he had a personality. I loved his connection with Yukiko. It reminded me of the relationship between Eragon and Saphira (except that Buruu didn't have to provide common sense for the both of them...).
Plot: ***** I liked how this book introduced conflict right away. Just a few pages in, when we hadn't yet gotten to the major plot of the book, there was already tension and conflict. All throughout the book, this never changed. It had a good sense of urgency throughout, which I like.
Also, there was plenty of action. I was left wondering and guessing about things (a good thing, in this case, because I wanted to know what would happen next!). It kept me turning pages.
Uniqueness: ***** Like the quote on the cover says, there's nothing you need to hear after "Japanese steampunk".
Writing: ***** If I remember correctly, there were a few shifts into present tense that didn't make sense to me. I had an issue with the point of view, too. Sometimes I would be a few paragraphs into a new section, and I still wasn't quite sure whose point of view it was from. This is never a good thing, as it was disorienting and confusing.
Also, I found a few typos. But this is an ARC, after all, so it was to be expected.
Not-so-great: Nothing worth mentioning.
Overall: I really enjoyed this, and I'm glad I got the chance to read it early. It had interesting characters, and a cool plot. There were a few disorienting point of view switches, though. Still, the setting was awesome. Japanese steampunk, everyone. Come on. How cool is that? I'm so glad this lived up to the hype, for the most part.
PS: Have you seen the trailer for this book? If not, go watch it. Seriously. I promise you it's unlike any other book trailer you've ever seen.