Review: Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

January 7, 2016 Review 40 ★★★½

Review: Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: Macmillan
Source: Borrowed
Pages: 324
Release Date: September 18th 2012
Series: The Lotus War #1
Genres: Epic, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical, Science Fiction, Steampunk
Arashitoras are supposed to be extinct. So when Yukiko and her warrior father Masaru are sent to capture one for the Shõgun, they fear that their lives are over – everyone knows what happens to those who fail the Lord of the Shima Isles. But the mission proves less impossible and more deadly than anyone expects. Soon Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in her country's last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled arashitora for company. Although she can hear his thoughts, and saved his life, all she knows for certain is he'd rather see her dead than help her. Yet trapped together in the forest, Yukiko and the beast soon discover a bond that neither of them expected.

Meanwhile, the country around them verges on collapse. A toxic fuel is choking the land, the machine-powered Lotus Guild is publicly burning those they deem Impure, and the Shõgun cares for nothing but his own dominion. Authority has always made Yukiko, but her world changes when she meets Kin, a young man with secrets, and the rebel Kagé cabal. She learns the horrifying extent of the Shõgun's crimes, both against her country and her family.

Returning to the city, Yukiko is determined to make the Shõgun pay – but what can one girl and a flightless arashitora do against the might of an empire?

“Dying is easy.
Anyone can throw themselves onto the pyre and rest a happy martyr.

Enduring the suffering that comes with sacrifice is the real test.”

The Lotus War books have been recommended to me countless times, and I’m pretty sure it’s one of my coblogger’s favorite series. This is my second try at STORMDANCER, and while I can now see where the love comes from, I struggled through this one.

What was the reason I dislike hate with a passion THE FIFTH WAVE? Hold a grudge against CODE NAME VERITY? Almost DNFed UPROOTED? The pacing. Granted, I lack patience in general, but when I read I want to be entertained. This novel had one of the slowest starts to a book I have ever read. The struggle was real, guys. I almost couldn’t do it.

glacial pace.
But I persevered. And was rewarded with heartbreaking moments, meaningful friendships, crazy twists, and true life lessons. The feels are strong in this one, people. I have my predictions for how the series will end and I’m terrified without even having read the second book yet.

Speaking of relationships though, let’s talk about the romance. Yukiko, the main character, likes to daydream about a boy she just met about every other page. Specifically, his green eyes. I stopped counting after the fifth mention. Needless to say, this was a romance I could not get behind, especially since it was basically just used as a plot device. It’s really a shame because STORMDANCER is such an involved and detailed book but the romance is thrown at you like an afterthought.

On one hand, I think the writing was phenomenal. Kristoff has fleshed out an amazing and detailed world. You can tell so much thought went into it. On the other hand, the writing also contributed to the pacing issues I had. There were paragraphs upon paragraphs of descriptions that really had no relevance. However, I did come to appreciate the vivid writing (once the pace picked up) because this is a imaginative world full of unique creations that come alive due to the author’s writing.

Overall, the two major issues I had with STORMDANCER were the pacing and romance. However, there were so many other great aspects to this novel and I am truly glad I experienced it in full. I hear the next two books come loaded with even more feels so wish me luck!

“This is how the rain becomes a flood. One drop at a time.”

Rating Report
Overall: 3.2

40 Responses to “Review: Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff”

  1. Bec

    Aren’t you glad you listened to my wise advice and pushed onwards! You need to start reading Kinslayer ASAP though so this series can start destroying you properly :)

    • Alise

      *mumbles* I guess *mumbles* ;)
      Although it was more my friendship with you that made me keep reading than the book haha. Will do, just have to finish up some review copies!

    • Alise

      Luckily there were other elements that made up for the shortcomings (*cough* unlike Uprooted *cough*) but yeah, definitely a slow start. Thanks :)

  2. Lucia @Reading Is My Breathing

    Hmm, slow pace on one side but amazing writing and world-building on the other side. You are not helping me at all to decided whether I should read this book or not. The struggle is real! LOL But seriously, I have been hesitant to add this to my TBR but I am a sucker for detailed world-building in fantasy novels so I may add it on Goodreads after all. Great review, Alise :)
    Lucia @Reading Is My Breathing recently posted…BOOK NERDS, TREAT YOURSELVES TO SOCIETY6 DESIGNS!

    • Alise

      Haha, whoops ;) I guess it depends on how you value each aspect, for me, everything that came after the slow start kind of made up for it. Thank you!

  3. Sara L.

    I really, REALLY need to read Stormdancer this year. I bought it last year, and it’s been slowly creeping up my Leaning Tower of Books at home. (I organize my reading priorities with a stack of books by my bedroom chair. It’s… interesting. And precarious. *lol*)

    As for your review, I’m glad you stuck with the book and found things you enjoyed after all. Looking forward to your thoughts on the next one!
    Sara L. recently posted…Happy New Year – and Here’s to 2016!

    • Alise

      Haha, I can only imagine! My library stack is dangerous as it is. It was worth sticking with, for sure. Thanks!

  4. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    I still need to read this, even though I think I added it to my tbr right around the time it came out. Part of me is like 1000% sure I’ll love it, but then another part of me is worried, though I’m not sure why. I am pretty patient with slow-pacing, especially if I know it’ll eventually pick up. Your issues with the romance worry me a bit more, but considering how this one won you over with the heartbreak, meaningful lessons, crazy twists and life lessons, I’d say it’s worth it! Fantastic review Alise and I’m happy this won you over eventually AND that you’re continuing with the series :D
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Harry Potter Moment #124

    • Alise

      Hmmm, I think you would like it! You might find it a little slow to start but yeah, I think you have more patience than me haha. The romance wasn’t too bad, it was just unnecessary. Everything else though…definitely worth checking out. Thanks :D

  5. Kelly

    I remember struggling with the romance in this one when I read it. I think I ended up titling my mini-reviews for the month after how tired I was of unnecessary, forced romantic plot lines… I don’t hate romance all the time, but there are definitely books that would be better without shoehorning it in.

    I still have yet to read the rest of the trilogy, but I’m really hoping that the romance aspect either improves or disappears completely.
    Kelly recently posted…Series Spotlight: The Spiderwick Chronicles

    • Alise

      For sure. I actually prefer a little romance but not if it is just used as a plot device and has no real meaning. Same here, I’m about the start the next book hoping that too.

    • Alise

      Same, I’ll usually DNF it. I really wanted to finish this one for Bec though so I stuck with it. It’s tough, because there were awesome aspects but also aspects that really brought it down.

    • Alise

      Illuminae was much better paced, but I had a hard time connecting to the characters. It just depends I guess *shrug*

  6. Ebony @ LifeAsEden

    I must admit that I haven’t really thought a lot about this series at all, though I do own the first book as I actually attended the launch for the final book in the series last year…weird, I know. I love how this book has such a different setting to most YA. Despite your need to persevere with it to begin with, I’m so glad you enjoyed this one, Alise! It sounds amazing – thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. :)
    Ebony @ LifeAsEden recently posted…Two Year Blogoversary + A Giveaway

  7. Kelly

    I tried to read this one top before Illuminae was released and only made it a few chapters in too Alise. Not because of the writing because that was phenomenal but like yourself, I just didn’t feel anything. It’s the struggle I have with fantasy all the time, I just can’t get into it and it feels as though I’ve been dropped in the middle of the story. But still have it on my shelf and going to give it another try. Let’s hope like yourself, second time lucky poppet. Wonderful review Alise <3
    Kelly recently posted…Clancy of the Undertow

    • Alise

      Sounds like you had the same experience I had the first time I tried reading this one! Fantasy is actually one of my favorite genres so I usually have more patience so it says a lot to me that I had trouble with this one. Thank you :)

  8. Zara

    ive been curious about this one because i like the cover very much. i understand what you feel, Alise, pacing is super duper important, especially in fantasy books where it can drop you anywhere. i sometimes experience that too, when the book gives you no feeling at all, but i force myself to finish it. great review!
    Zara recently posted…END OF YEAR BOOK SURVEY: 2015 Edition

    • Alise

      For sure! I tend to have a bit more patience in fantasy books but I really did struggle with this one, sadly. Thank you!

  9. Wattle

    Oh no, pacing is SO IMPORTANT D: I hate it when books start so slow, but there’s something satisfying about persevering and discovering something good though!

    The romance sounds a bit…boring and unnecessary, but it’s going on my TBR anyway. I can ignore sucky romances :P
    Wattle recently posted…Book Review: On Thin Icing by Ellie Alexander

    • Alise

      There really is, I am glad I stuck with this one. The romance definitely was unnecessary, I hope it takes a different path in the second book.

    • Alise

      Everyone raves about his writing so I know what you mean. Illuminae was an okay read for me but I felt detached from the characters. If you can get past the pacing this really is a great read!

  10. Aila @ Happy Indulgence

    Well I’m glad you still enjoyed this one despite the pacing and romance Alise! I’ve heard all about the green-eyed love interest, which is… weird. Not realistic either, but this IS a fantasy (steampunk? Idk anymore) so I’ll let that slide (the eyes, that is). I haven’t picked this one up yet, but it’s definitely on my TBR for 2016 (especially since I’ve had it for a couple of months now on my shelf LOL) Either way, I’ll try to persevere through the slow pacing too. :)
    Aila @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Indulgence Insider #45 – Welcome to 2016!

    • Alise

      Thanks! Yeah, it really isn’t. I didn’t even care that he had green eyes, only that we were reminded of his green eyes ALL THE TIME GAH. Haha, I hope you like it!

    • Alise

      Ooh, I’m excited for Kinslayer then! At least I’ll be really invested in the story by the time I read Endsinger so hopefully it won’t be too bad! :)

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