Friday, October 26, 2012

Stormdancer

It's always such a good feeling to be looking forward to a book release. To have it marked in your calendar and counting down the days. I'll never forget the midnight release party for The Deathly Hallows, where the parking lot of the local BN was packed with people because the building had exceeded its fire codes. How people ran to the register when their letter was called and ran out of the store clutching their bags. All this for a BOOK.

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff was my most anticipated book for 2012. I held myself back from buying the hardcover on release day (sorry J, trying to conserve the monies) but I reserved it at the library a month in advance and I still wasn't high enough on the list to get the first round of books. I had to wait until mid-October. They said I was at the top of the list (because yes, I did make special trips to the library to check my place in the queue), but that obviously didn't matter. I take that as a good sign, that no one wanted to bring the book back.

Because... I don't want to bring my book back. I want to keep it. I want to buy my own copy and read it again. I probably would break down and buy the hardcover if not for the fact that I don't care for reading hardcovers. They look badass on the shelf, but books aren't meant to be looked at. They aren't decor. They are meant to be read. I'm partial to the mass market versions because I can read them and love them and I can hold them comfortably, and I can look at my shelves and see all my favorite books in various stages of disrepair and everyone else can know that I love them. So. Please don't come out in trade paperback, Stormdancer, waiting one year for the next format is bad enough. September 2013 I need you.

Before we really getting rolling, here is the expected linkage: Jay Kristoff's blog is insightful and entertaining, and I highly recommend it. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook and Goodreads. Let Scalzi convince you to read it.

A synopsis, from BN:
The first in an epic new fantasy series, introducing an unforgettable new heroine and a stunningly original dystopian steampunk world with a flavor of feudal Japan.
       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.


But please don't listen to that synopsis, let this book trailer convince you instead. It's probably the most fantastic book trailer I've ever seen, and against all odds (I don't see the point in book trailers) it actually made me want to read the book more.


I expected this book to have fantastic worldbuilding and a good plot. Japanese Steampunk? Yes please. Imagine my surprise when I was still surprised by how good it was. The level of worldbuilding in this book is insane. The country has this entire epic history and the cities actually make your throat dry and you can feel the suffocating humidity of the forests. But what I didn't expect was the beauty of the prose and how Kristoff used that to his advantage for all the descriptions. This isn't just a book that takes place in a Japanese world, this book came from a Japanese world. He uses sentences without subjects that make you pause and really think about the setting. And short groupings of three sentences that taste like haikus. It isn't just the description that makes this book genius, it's the way he manipulates the actual telling of the story.

If you follow my blog, you already know that prose is incredibly important to me for creating the feeling of a books. Words have a taste, and while plot is important to make the story interesting, that taste and tone of a book is what really makes me fall in love with it. That's why I love The Name of the Wind so much, and why The Perks of Being a Wallflower pulls at your heartstrings. Also The Fault in our Stars. And it's what separates these books from the so-so books that are forgotten two years after release. The prose is doing more than just sitting on the page, it is manipulating you. It is no longer paper, ink, and wood pulp.

And that, my friend, is why books are magic.

Can you tell that this is going to sit on my favorites shelf, falling apart and loved? Well. Enough mooning then. THE PROBLEMS. 310 pages? Really? You make sweet, sweet, book love to me and then slap me across the face the next morning? That's all for you, sweetheart, next time pay the big bucks and you get me for twice as long. I don't care that part of this book's charm is it's length. You don't get to make me love your characters and your world and then skip three weeks in the blink of an eye. I WANT MORE. The ending was too quick. It's over already?!? Could you do me a favor and make book 2 at least 600 pages? I want to spend more time with the characters and the nuances of their relationship. Buruu and Yukiko were fantastic by the way. Again, I would have liked to see more, because then I would have more awesome to keep reading. Buruu just makes my heart squeeze. And did I mention? You made me cry three times, THREE TIMES, with those flashbacks in the first 60 pages. That's not even fair.

Now, on to the tattoos. I love tattoos. Because if it came down to a getting a chestpiece or keeping my job, I would be looking for a new job. Because discrimination against tattoos is wrong and disgusting, and I am stopping now in effort to keep this post about the book and not about that little sore spot. I LOVE tattoos. Because wearing my heart on my sleeve is not enough, and I want everyone to know what is important to me by the artwork on my skin. I'll admit I was disappointed when they became the symbol of slavery, because there goes my gorgeous idea for a fox and cherry blossom sleeve. And I don't know who you killed to get such a beautiful cover, but I'm glad you did it. So fitting, and awesome to boot.

By the way, this is badass: 


I guess I really don't have much to say other than this book was just as amazing as I hoped it would be. Please bust your ass and make book 2 a thousand pages long. I'd appreciate it. And to all the other authors out there: YOU'RE LUCKY this was a library book, because I have to return it and I can't read it a second time.

Fall Reading List:
A Matter of Blood - Sarah Pinborough (The Dog-Faced Gods #1)
The Timekeeper - Mitch Albom
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce
The Casual Vacancy - J. K. Rowling
The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
Stormdancer - Jay Kristoff (The Lotus War #1)
The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness (Chaos Walking Trilogy #1)
Swan Song - Robert McCammon
Brood of Bones - A. E. Marling
Leviathan Wakes - James S. A. Corey (Expanse Series #1)
Gojiro - Mark Jacobson



Reading Next: The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling

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