Review: Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff {Absolutely Freaking Amazing!}

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected publication: Sept. 18th, 2012 by Thomas Dunne Books
Source: Amazon Vine
A DYING LAND
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 HIDDEN GIFT
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.

Before I get started, please note that I say this is YA at the top of this post, but I think it might be considered adult.  However, the main character is 16 and while it had some heavier themes I would recommend it for mature YA readers. 

This was a book I selected on a whim.  I hadn’t heard of it yet (somehow) but it sounded excellent.  And I am so *so* glad I did because this was an absolutely stunning book.  It had so much about it that made it completely unique and while it’s a mix of genres, each genre represented was represented extremely well.

The characters were unbelievably amazing.  Yukiko has grown up in a time and place where speaking up is definitely frowned upon.  You could be killed for speaking your mind.  But this doesn’t hold her back.  She rebels against the system every way she can that isn’t outright going to get her killed.  But once things change and she realize what needs to be done, we see this strength in her to do everything it takes to make things right.

All the other characters were great as well and I loved that there were two characters that were completely loyal to her and would do everything to keep her safe.  They were true friends and showed this in many, many ways.  And while they were not the kinds of friends you would expect, both of which could easily be her enemy, they were everything I could ever want in a friend.  And as a reader, I enjoyed the humor they threw into the mix while at the same time horrible and devastating things were happening.  Having humor thrown in just makes things a bit more bearable and lightens it up, which I appreciate in darker books.  Both of these characters I would love to just give a ginormous hug to, they made this book what it was and were completely brilliant.

This book is epic fantasy, dystopia and steampunk.  All rolled into one delicious story!  The fantasy part of the book was brilliant.  We get mythical creatures, crazy demon things and a world that is devastated, but still holds beauty.  Particularly in the Japanese feel of everything.  The world has been devastated by the Blood Lotus.  The Blood Lotus has taken over agriculture and is used for everything.  It’s a drug, it’s a fuel, it’s basically what the country is run on.  Unfortunately it pollutes the air (from the fuel), it kills the soil (which makes them tear down more forest and kill off more animals) and it’s making the country die.  That is the dystopia, along with the Shogun’s harsh rules and evil ways of ruling with an iron fist.  The steampunk aspects are that it’s the Guild Workers in their giant metal skins (like a suit of armor, kind of) that create all these brilliant inventions.  Unfortunately it is largely them that is working at killing the country because they push the Blood Lotus to be grown more for them to have more fuel for more inventions.  They also kill people that are impure.  To be impure you have to suspected (note the suspected part) of having an ability like being able to talk to animals.  They burn them if they suspect this. We get airships, along with masks that are to filter the filthy air and this is the steampunk aspect.  I’m sure I’m forgetting something very important in this bit, but that’s what I’m thinking of off the top of my head.

This book started out a tad bit slow, but we are shown the world through Yukiko’s eyes, along with a few jonts into some others and a few pages here and there of memories.  We get a clear idea of the world quite quickly and while it slowed the pace for the first bit, it made the story so easy to picture and imagine.  And it wasn’t long until it started moving at a fast pace and became impossible to put down. 

While there is a tad bit of romance in the book, it’s very light.  However, it has some very big twists and you really would never guess how things would turn out.  While I would have liked an epic love story, I think that in this book it just wasn’t right.  However, I’m holding out hope that there’s some serious romance to come in the future books.

Personally, I loved this book.  I wanted to tell the world to read it as I read it, and I hope that even those that think it’s maybe not for them give it a try.  The mix of genre’s was nice and I think that those that don’t like any one of those genre’s would still enjoy it, because each one plays a big part without being too much.  The inventions aren’t at all crazy or weird or difficult to imagine,  the dystopian feel is obvious, but yet not too dark as we get a good middle bit of a more lighter feel.  And the fantasy, while epic, wasn’t difficult to conceive of with it’s court intrigue and crazy world.   There is some bad language, and there is sex but it fades out.  There are more mature themes, but nothing inappropriate for the mature YA reader (in my opinion).  I very highly recommend you give this one a shot.

Disclosure:  I received this book for review purposes.  All opinions expressed are my own and I was not paid or influenced in any way.

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Comments

  1. LOVE the cover for this one, so pretty! I’m a little disappointed there’s not an epic romance in this one as I’m such a fan of those, but you’re right that that type of romance just doesn’t fit with every story, but I’ll be holding out hope along with you that we get a little more of it in the next book:) Can’t wait to give this one a try, 5 mushrooms = COMPLETE WIN!

  2. I do love when an MC has friends who stick by her/him through thick and thin. Strong loyalty is always attractive (even if they’re not human…). I can’t WAIT to read this one (I’ve got it on my shelf but am hording it like a piece of cake for a midnight snack. Tormenting myself!).

  3. Epic fantasy, dystopia AND steampunk? YES! Now I am really glad that I picked this one up at ALA. :D It sounds sooooo good, Candace! Thank you for the review! :D You have me all excited!

  4. This book has a lot of hype surrounding it and because of that I’m slightly wary of reading it. I like that there’s a blend of genres in the book and the plot itself seems to have been really well-executed from your review. Glad that you ended up loving it. :)
    I’ll definitely check it out when it releases ! Great review, Candace ! :D

  5. Wow, i like the idea of a bunch of genres mixing so well together. I still haven’t read anything that could be called steampunk, i don’t believe, so that’s awesome. I’m really really glad you enjoyed this. great review.

    -Lauren

  6. AH! CANDACEEE. Your amazing review makes me want to read this book so badly. I’ve heard absolutely amazing things about this book, and your review is no exception. It looks like I’ll have to check this one out! Thanks for the fantastic review, Candace. :)

  7. Okay. Oh WOW. Oh my goodness. Holy bleep, what an AMAZING review, Candace!! I wanted this book before, but now? I’m certain that this is gonna be a total buy-worthy read! I love that it’s an epic fantasy, dystopia, AND steampunk — but most of all, I love how romance isn’t the main focus. Most YA are all about the romance, so it’s really refreshing to have a taste of something new! :)

    Absolutely AMAZING review, Candace! <3

  8. Jenny,
    Yes, the romance was the only thing I would have liked more of in this book, but there WAS romance, it’s just not exactly what I want. You’ll see when you read it.

    Mary,
    READ IT! I want to discuss it with you!

    Bailey,
    I can’t wait to hear what you think! I think you’ll really love it!

    Nick,
    I know what you mean. Sometimes if a book has a lot of hype it makes me wary too. Somehow I hadn’t heard of this book AT ALL when I got it so I had zero expectations, other than it sounded fabulous!

    Braine,
    I’ve been debating doing a giveaway… I might be up for loaning it out instead so a few others get the opportunity to read it.

    Lauren,
    You haven’t read steampunk?! Well, you need to get on that! It’s not for everyone, but you have to at least give it a try!

    Sophia,
    I hope you love it!

    Mimi,
    I just LOVE your enthusiasm! It makes my day! But yes, I do think this is one you’ll love!

  9. Sigh, I could really use an absolutely freaking good book right now. I have been slogging through too many mediocre ones. I really want to get this book. I just love the color scheme and it sounds great. Cross my fingers a copy finds its way into my hands.

  10. I loved this book, I have been telling others to read it even before it is out, I’m already loaning my ARC copy out, I even have a “waiting list”

  11. I’ll be reading this sometime in the near future and I can. not. wait! I’ve even preordered it already. That’s how excited I am. I’m glad to see that you loved it so much. :-)

  12. Wow fantasy, dystopia and steampunk! I’m in love with this book already!! Thank you so much for this because I haven’t heard of it either. At least not until now! :D

  13. Really glad you enjoyed it Candace! Thanks so much for the great review! :D

    The rest of you guys – thanks so much for your enthusiasm about STORMDANCER. I’m really excited that YOU’RE excited, and I hope you enjoy the book!

    Much <3

  14. Ashley,
    I know, this cover ROCKS!

    Marla,
    You already preordered?! That’s awesome! I should get on that as well…

    Jay,
    You are very welcome! I’m excited for the whole world to get this book in their hands and read it! Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and comment!

  15. Wow Candace! It’s so hard to resist you when I can feel your love for a book through your review! Fantasy isn’t even my thing, but you’ve got me putting this one on my wish list. I think the slow beginning is something I would struggle with too, but it’s good to know that it helps to understand the setting. And I’m not gonna lie, I prefer more romance too, but then again, there is always that delicious hope that there is more to come.

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