Stormdancer (Lotus War)

Stormdancer  - Jay Kristoff When I bought this book, I had low expectations. Don't get me wrong: the cover looked awesome, the premise sounded unique, and it was getting great reviews. However, it was coined as a "dystopian novel." .... Now, no offense intended to any one author, but the past few dystopian novels I've read have been terrible. Not "difficult to read," not "mediocre writing." I mean: the characters were flat and uninteresting, the bad guys were generic shoot-'em-up stock villains, the narration was poorly structured, and the world set up felt half-finished. I didn't even rate them. I don't know why this happened; I've just had bad luck picking books this year. So, when I began Stormdancer, I was preparing myself to be let down. WHICH WAS FOOLISH. Because not only is Stormdancer fantastic, but the writing is too. The writing in this novel is AMAZINGLY DETAILED. And, yes, I know that "amazingly detailed" is the ultimate reviewing cliche, but here it applies. Kristoff is an author who knows how to use language, and to make that language accurately and completely build a world. He didn't focus on the sense of sight (typical, flashy visuals); he alerted all five. You can smell the fuel from Yukiko's ship, feel the pain of each of stumble and fall, taste the toxic/unfiltered air, hear the characters' dialogue. And nothing is left out. Everything--from the world's current predicament to its previous implosion--is cleverly woven into the novel. And the badass female narrator isn't just a stock badass female narrator. She isn't just a ninja with a knife; she has a purpose, and a knight-like sense of right and wrong. I was blown away by how painstakingly each puzzle piece of this world was put in place. It was so amazing that, holding Stormdancer up against other dystopian novels I've read this year, I would consider Stormdancer the ultimate example of a fully-realized, well-developed science-fiction novel. Don't get me wrong: occasionally the language dragged a little, but it was never over unnecessary descriptions or circling dialogue. Overall, I can only deduct a star for it.