published: May 16th, 2017 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
genre: YA historical fantasy
series: Book 1
I was super excited to read this, since it’s been hyped for months. Even though it wasn’t a bad read, it really wasn’t worth all the hype.
Summary from Goodreads:
“The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace. Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back.”
Things I Liked:
I loved that it was set in a world similar to historical Japan, with kimonos and samurai. I don’t feel like there are enough YA fantasies that choose this sort of world setting, so I was super happy to see this!
I loved Ranmaru and Okami as characters. They felt well developed and were interesting throughout. There were aspects I really liked about Mariko as well. Her tenacity and will to be a bit odd, even when it wasn’t approved of; her realizations as she saw more of the world around her; her desire to better herself in the situations she was presented with.
The romance that started was fun. I was expecting some sort of romance to happen, though this one entered at an out of the blue moment.
Things I Didn’t Like:
There was a lot of revenge going on with multiple characters, but there was little emotion behind it. The rationale and the characters were not developed enough that you could feel their will to seek revenge. For the majority of the characters, you wouldn’t know they were vengeful if you weren’t point blank told so. Others simply pop out of nowhere with no background whatsoever for their happening.
In general, there were a lot of events that seemed thrown together. There were multiple moments when things came out of nowhere, and it wasn’t the good kind of “Wow, I didn’t see that coming!” It was more of the “Where on earth did they pull that from?” kind of nowhere.
I lot of the reading felt dumbed down, and I think this is due to a bit of overtelling. The SAME phrases about characters kept being repeated over and over again until I felt like I was being beaten over the head with them. She was odd. She used her brains. He was the wolf. I would have much rather seen actions of these characteristics than be reminded of them constantly through telling, and in the same turn of phrase. This is probably what most annoyed me.
The ending was entirely bad, and there is a sort of conclusion, but there are also a bunch of out of the blue cliffhangers added that had no previous foreshadowing. It felt kind of gimicky.
I’d rate this book a 3 out of 5. While the story wasn’t that bad, it also wasn’t amazing. There were no characters I was particularly aching to read more about. I will definitely be waiting to see other reviews before I consider reading any sequels to come.