Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Review: The Young Samurai: Way of the Warrior by Chris Bradford

Hi all!

Here is a review of a YA again located in Japan. Did I already mention that I love YA set in or related to Japan? :D





Series: Young Samurai #1
Release date: 7th of August 2008
Published by: Penguin Group
Imprint: Puffin Books
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Historical, Adventure, YA
Pages: 332 in Paperback
Source: Bought from the Book Depository

Summary:

Jack Fletcher is shipwrecked off the coast of Japan, his beloved father and the crew lie slaughtered by ninja pirates.

Rescued by a legendary master swordsman and brought under his wing, Jack begins the grueling physical and psychological training needed to become a samurai. Life at Samurai school is fraught with difficulty for Jack who is bullied and treated as an outcast.

With his friend the remarkable, beautiful Akiko at his side and all the courage he can muster, Jack has to prove himself. Will he be able to face deadly rivals and challenges that will test him to his very limits?

Review:

As I’ve already mentioned I find many aspects of the Japanese culture extremely engrossing and having a craving at the moment to read light fun Japan related YA fiction (which I again have to regrettably conclude that there is not nearly enough) I stumbled on the Young Samurai series. Fortunately, I can admit that this book was exactly what I was looking for and I enjoyed it immensely.

The storyline in general follows the pattern of most adventure YA coming of age books with a male protagonist. But if it’s not broken why fix it? This is precisely the case with this book. While predictable with somewhat generic characters I was still hooked and gobbled up every single word with excitement. The setting with its action-packed lie-back-and-enjoy-the-ride adventure was nonstop and didn’t get repetitive or boring in any way. I rooted for the main characters, appreciated the steady and strong pace and, in general, just had fun reading this.

Characters:

Jack was tough, brave and noble while still maintain boyish and vulnerable traits in the life changing circumstances he is thrust into. Having taken on the difficult and no success guaranteed path of becoming a samurai, he takes his choice quite seriously and works diligently at something he and many around him don’t believe he is cut for or has earned. He does, however, gain the support and respect of people that matter and that is enough to motivate and hold Jack on the course of his journey. He’s a very safe and relatable hero, a true underdog in a world he doesn’t understand (and where others don’t understand him) and is not welcome to but manages to fight for a spot he can claim for his own in this strange and distant country. From the negative side, he would have benefitted from more prominent and individual traits to his character to make him stand out from all the protagonists of the same caliber.

Yamato wants to see himself as someone who knows everything and is superior to Jack, in reality, he is a self-doubting and experiences tough emotional turmoil because of the situation of his family, his relationship with his father and the appearance of Jack who manages to encounter success in all the areas Yamato himself from position and abilities is supposed to be victorious at. He has a rude awakening and is on the verge of losing hope in himself and, thus, makes some stupid choices and develops an even stupider attitude. Despite this, Yamato was my favorite character who isn’t weak and cannot own up to his mistakes, totally redeem himself and finds the understanding he so longs for. He is supposed to be the opposite of Jack but they end up being more similar than they ever would have thought.

Regarding the other characters:
Akiko who was the biggest support for Jack was a nice, strong and levelheaded sidekick. Entirely likeable but remained slightly dull and typical.
I would have loved to have more insight into Jack’s guardian Masamoto and found the main antagonist Dragon Eye oh so wicked and ruthless. I already anticipate epic clashes Jack and his friends will have with him in the future. In addition, the teachers in the samurai school were all very distinct and nicely presented.
Kazuki was an ass, but an idiotic narrow-minded bully is always a must with such stories, with that the accomplishments of the hero appear more significant if there is constant doubt and difficulties.

Overall:

The Young Samurai series already has several books under its belt which I’m all planning to read. It’s a fun YA read I recommend to all adventure and action lovers. It’s not as awesome as several similar series giants out there (Percy Jackson, Eragon, etc) but it holds its own and is more than enjoyable.



4 stars!


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2 comments:

  1. I enjoy reading books set in historic Japan too. This one sounds really good.

    Nice review!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Finally someone who understands me! :D

    ReplyDelete

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