Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Blurb: 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 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.
Review: I have read many good books this year. A few have been amazing. But there is always one that stands out more than the others. There is always one book that stands the test of time and you know will remain a favorite for years to come, possibly forever. For me, Stormdancer was that book.
Yes, there is a lot of hype surrounding this book. Yes, many book bloggers and early readers have been fangirling like wackadoos. It’s easy to think that maybe the reviews are overcompensating or being overly nice because the author has a huge online presence on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook. He is truly a nice guy and I think I quite like him, but that would never affect the way I feel about a book. If I hated it, I would say so. But I can readily stand up loud and clear and tell you personally that this book lives up to ALL the hype.
I don’t even know what to say. I have three pages of notes and bunches of status updates, but nothing sounds right when I type it. Let’s try this:
Stormdancer is published by Thomas Dunne which is an imprint of St. Martin’s Press. I normally don’t talk about the publisher in my reviews, but I feel here it is necessary because it is an adult imprint. This book has bigtime crossover potential, but I wouldn’t call this a YA book. The subject matter is serious, there are some dark themes (environmental and religious), and it is definitely almost too complex for the YA genre. By using an adult imprint, the publisher has the ability to introduce this to a wider audience which is as it should be. I think there will be many different types of readers that enjoy this book. Some teens, some adults, but I think I would agree with the decision to use an adult imprint and not YA.
The environmental message is essential to the book because it is such an important component in the setting. Shima is a dying land due to the farming of Blood Lotus. EVERYTHING in Shima runs on Blood Lotus. Since this is a steampunk setting, you know how important fuel is. Not only is it important in their daily lives, but they also smoke it as a drug. And it’s addictive. Yukiko’s father is addicted to smoking lotus. The farming of lotus is polluting everything in Shima. The soil is dying, the plant life and animal life are almost extinct, and the terrible air quality forces the citizens of Shima to wear mechanical masks which most people cannot afford. People get sick and die a slow agonizing death if they do not protect themselves from the pollution in the air. There are more secrets to the production of Blood Lotus that are revealed later on, but I hope this paragraph gives you an idea of how detailed and depressing this world truly is. I kind of feel like Shima was a character in the book; perhaps the strongest character of all.
And if Shima was the strongest character, Buruu was my favorite character. It’s not difficult for me to get attached to animals in literature and movies, but Buruu was something truly special. I don’t want to ruin him with spoilers, but he was written in a way that made him multi-dimensional. He jumps right off the page. Buruu is not an ordinary animal; he is a mythological beast with a voice all his own. It’s a voice that I think anyone with a heart will fall hard for. This is not to say that the other characters are not strong–they are–but Buruu steals every scene he is in, and even some that he isn’t. I LOVED him.
I sobbed upon finishing this book. It was such an emotional experience. I think this is probably my favorite book of the year so far. Top ten ever, maybe. Either way, it is a must read. The plot twists will have your jaw on the floor and immediately upon finishing, you will want to reread this book. I know I did. Every time I thought this book couldn’t possibly get better, it did. Again and again. And I’m out of words. Fin.