I got this one on Net Galley courtesy of Flux Books. And it actually comes out today! I really loved this one! I’m not going to lie; it was cheesy, predictable, full of cliché story arcs, and layered with terrible dialogue. However, aren’t all Samurai movies rather on the cheesy side?
The book’s description calls it, “Kill Bill meets Buffy,” and frankly I don’t know if it could have said anything else to make me want to read it more. And like with Kill Bill and Buffy, I couldn’t stop until I finished the whole thing.
It’s about Rileigh. She and her best friend Q witness a mugging outside the mall one night, and somehow because of Rileigh the muggers get away with nothing. She ends up in the hospital with doctors letting her know it was adrenaline that helped her fight off the attack, but really it’s clear immediately that there’s a lot more going on than adrenaline. For starters, she’s having dreams about Samurai warriors that take place hundreds of years ago. She also hears a voice that tells her how to fight, warns her of danger, and seems to take over her body when violence ever happens. And how cool would it be to just all of a sudden have the power, strength, and knowhow to fight off bad people?
Apparently Rileigh’s fight was broadcast on the news, and she starts getting both a lot of positive and negative attention. The positive attention comes from Kim a Martial Arts instructor who tries (for a good portion of the book) to convince Rileigh that she is a reincarnated version of the warrior Senshi, his soulmate. Rileigh unfortunately is more interested in a boy she’s been crushing on for months at her high school, but she does eventually get talked into learning about her warrior past. How long can anyone pretend that dreams, voices, super powers that involve wind, and kick butt fighting skills are just adrenaline? The bad attention she receives is from cryptic, creepy letters and several more attacks, where she always comes out unscathed.
To make sure it’s not adrenaline, there’s this one scene where Rileigh goes into a biker bar to test her theory. It was probably my least favorite scene in the whole book. Mostly, it’s just dumb. But, also I feel like it’s totally disrespectful to bikers. It says you can go to any biker bar and will have no problem having a fight. There’s a terrifying moment when she can’t get her keys in the ignition and she’s surrounded by angry biker girlfriends destroying her car, and I almost just stopped reading from being so insulted by the whole thing. Not, that I’m a huge fan of bikers, but really it just made them all look so terrible, especially the women.
Any way, to fully get all her Samurai memories back Rileigh has to touch something that belonged to her former self. And this would help if Senshi’s sword didn’t keep getting stolen. There’s a lot of fight scenes, memories of a past life that involved some serious betrayal and decapitated heads, love triangles, a wonderful gay best friend who stands behind Rileigh no matter what, kidnapping, evil power struggles, and then all the typical teen stuff like summer jobs and girl rivalries.
The book is about Rileigh coming to terms with who she is and who she wants to be. She’s not my favorite main character. Mostly because she kept making really bad decisions and she didn’t realize things till way too late. But, I did come to really like her by the end. I just wish that it didn’t have to take her so long to get to where she did. Because finally when she’s become a stronger more likeable character, the book ends. I’m hoping there will be a sequel because I would love to see her mastering her skills and seriously getting some bad guys.
I predicted almost all aspects of the ending. But, I still wanted to get to that ending any way. Sometimes predictable can be good, and in this case it was.
The biggest thing that bothered me though was the dialogue. The author was trying a little too hard to make Rileigh sound young. I get that she’s snarky and sarcastic, but her sarcasm was kind of terrible. It was a lot of catchy one-liners like from the first season of Buffy and not enough wit and intelligence. I liked that Rileigh talked back to her attackers and never stopped fighting for her life, but no one really talks that way. Again, this adds to the Samurai feel, but…it just felt like the author was focusing too much on how a young person should sound and not just naturally writing Raileigh down or focusing on how a Samurai should sound.
Regardless of the predictability and dialogue, I loved this book. It’s just what I needed to read outside with me on some beautiful Chicago days. And I give it a 8/10.