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snark (reading) lady

In my free time, I snark things. In my freer time, I read things.

Currently reading

Night Film
Marisha Pessl
The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials, #3)
Philip Pullman
Mark Slouka
The Lord of the Rings
J.R.R. Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien
Stormdancer  - Jay Kristoff A character hands another character in the book you are reading a scroll. If you are the type of person who wants to know what sound the scroll made as it was unfurled, Stormdancer is a book for you.If you are not, perhaps you are the type of reader who can stick it out through 10-13 chapters if it means there will be a payoff. If that is the case, then, yes. Stormdancer is for you.Truth is, Stormdancer is good and somewhat unlike most of your typical YA Fantasy fare. The last 25% of the book was especially well done and included a revelation that literally had me clapping. Clapping. Alone. In my room. Plus: spills, thrills, tension, intrigue... well, you get the point.It is not without its faults, however. I would be doing a disservice to Mr. Kristoff if I didn’t mention that these faults are a matter of style and preference rather than anything glaringly wrong with essentials.It was slow going for me through the first 13 chapters of Stormdancer. There are two specific reasons why, and while these two things do settle as the story goes on, they are present throughout and are why this book is not five stars for me:1.) An overabundance of descriptions. Kristoff is a gifted writer, and he crafts settings well. I didn’t have a problem with the way his descriptions were written but just that there were so many. It became too meaty and weighed down the momentum of the story. This was especially troublesome at the beginning, where there was no momentum. It all kept trying to take off, but how could it through a sea of too many words?Kristoff settles well into the middle of the story, but there were still points where I felt things were dragging. It took me until after I finished to realize that the plot wasn’t dragging, it was again being slowed by too many superfluous details.There were times, plenty of them, where this worked for Kristoff. One example is the description of the “blue-black” smoke of the lotus. I loved this small repetition, I loved the visual and I love the thread it created throughout the story.For every one of those, however, you had things like an almost duplicate description of Shateigashira being given just pages apart. I stopped when I read about his childlike face again, to go back and see if I hadn’t just read this portion. When you are bringing your reader out of the story that way, regardless of how artful the description, you are crippling your narrative.2.) Too much world all at once. Now, I can say that I love the world Kristoff built. It’s beautiful and ugly, savage and advanced, intriguing and intricate.During the first chapters, however, it was too much information being thrown at the reader. I love when authors let the world build itself for the reader. You’ll find no awkward info dumps from Kristoff, which I appreciate. But really, it was too much at once.I am not familiar with feudal Japan, I knew none of the terms and I clearly didn’t know any of the characters so early in the story. It was confusing. I couldn’t care what was happening plot wise because I was trying to remember the four clans, or what’s a Kitsune again? Or wait, what’s chi? Is it a lotus? Wait, wait, WHAT kind of weapon? And so on.You cannot settle into a story when all you really want to do is Google every other word.Unfortunately, this will mean that some readers will abandon Stormdancer before it comes into its own.The characters in Stormdancer are done reasonably well seeing as how this is a plot driven story. There is a growth and definition, thankfully, but I came away feeling like I knew much of our heroine’s actions but little of her personality. And that’s okay. This story wasn’t the place for a deep character study.Yukiko is a good heroine. I loved her strength and perseverance, I loved her skill, her talent and her ability to speak her mind. Of course her weakness comes in the form of a boy. Trust me, I groaned as loudly as anyone. Hiro the samurai was my least favorite character, the least developed and I did not like the set-up of the love interest from the get-go. I know, I know, Yukiko is 16, but is she REALLY dreaming about a guy she met ONCE while being CHASED BY DEMONS?I hate the way this point undermined Yukiko's strength. She had a fine weakness in her naive world view, I just didn't think the whole "OMG BOY!" point was needed as well. Given how everything develops, I feel justified in disliking this plot point the way I do.Kin, on the other hand, was a wonderful, slightly complicated character. I loved that his “conditioning” didn’t magically disappear. He grew up a certain way all his life and you see that in him even when he wants for more.The rest of the supporting characters all brought something valuable to the table, in my opinion. The hardest part of the end was equally knowing what happened to some of them and not knowing what happened to some of them.This is only the tip of it all. I didn’t touch on the thunder tiger or the politics or the gender roles or the back story, which are important additions in Stormdancer .Essentially, Stormdancer is an onion. Peel away at the outer layers sort of deal, even if it is kind of smelly at first. I know- brilliant metaphor, but my point is that this proved to be worth the patience it required at first. At least for me.I will be reading the second one.PRO TIP: There is a glossary at the end. When I saw it I let out a, “AW MAN. FOR REAL? NOW I SEE THIS?”