Weekly YA review!
Author: Zoë Marriott
Title: The Night Itself
Series: The Name of the Blade #1
Release date: 4th of July 2013
Published by: Walker Books Ltd
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Contemporary, Fantasy, YA
Pages: 368 in Paperback
Source: Bought from the Bookdepository
When fifteen year old Mio Yamato furtively sneaks the katana - an ancestral Japanese sword - out of its hiding place in her parent's attic to help liven up her Christmas party costume, she has no idea of the darkness she is about to unleash on modern day London, or the family secrets that she is going to uncover.
The paralysing paranoia that descends on her before she gets to her friend's party is her first clue. The vivid and terrifying visions that nearly get her killed are a pretty good warning too.
The giant nine-tailed cat demon that comes after the sword and tries to rip her throat out? Overkill.
Seconds away from becoming kitty-food, Mio is saved by Shinobu, a mysterious warrior boy. But it's already too late. Mio has ruptured the veil between the mortal realm and the Underworld, and now the gods and monsters of ancient Japan stalk the streets of London, searching for her and the sword.
With the help of her best friend Jack, a fox spirit named Hikaru - and the devoted protection of the betwitchingly familiar Shinobu - Mio attempts to discover the true nature of the sword and its connection to the Yamato family. Because if she doesn't learn how to control the katana's incredible powers, she's in danger of being overwhelmed by them. And if she can't keep the sword safe from the terrible creatures who want it for their own, she'll lose not only her own life... but the love of a lifetime.
Another Japanese mythology YA! I ache for these and there are so little of them written to make me satisfied, especially ones that are actually good reads and somewhat original. And, luckily, I wasn’t left disappointed or feeling the expectations not being reached with this book in a brand new trilogy.
I liked reading about Japanese related myths, characters, on goings, etc with the backdrop of modern London, even though I didn’t feel that setting was utilized to its full potential. Oh well, otherwise, every other aspect of Japan used felt authentic and intriguing and I especially appreciated the author using different, maybe not so wide used details of Japanese myths or others that are known, but not often depicted (a shout out to kitsune!), well at least, according to how much I’ve read.
Romance was handled masterfully and was one of my favorite aspects of the book. It walked on the edge of insta love, but that was a baseless fear, because while there where elements that threatened it falling into that category, the romance managed to be realistic (as realistic as you can get in a fantasy YA of course) and incredibly sweet. The care and dedication Shinobu managed to convey towards Mio through his actions and mere presents was clearly genuine, deeper than Mio can fathom at the moment and super swoon worthy.
This book is definitely heavy on the action and less on talking, contemplating, plain wasting time and whining. The whole story takes place in about one day and, boy, can a lot happen in that short period.
My biggest complaint would be the smallness and rareness of breadcrumbs thrown regarding what is actually going on. Maybe it was just me, but I wanted to know more about: the enemy, Mio’s role, what didn’t Mio’s grandfather manage to tell her, what’s the deal with Shinobu, Jack (?), what were they all fighting for really (ok, yes, the katana, but it was quite vague and the whole “the world will end” trope doesn’t cut it), etc. I just required more on the general information side. While it’s a given that more clues and answers will be provided in the upcoming books, I was a little frustrated. Nevertheless, it’s just my personal issue with the book, which in general, doesn’t take away from the joy of reading this story.
Mio – I only have positive things to say. She was fun, brave, sassy, down-to-earth, curious, made mistakes, tried her best, etc, etc. A great heroine to root for!
Shinobu – I can’t my contain curiosity towards him! We were given answers yet I still feel that there is a lot more to his character than we are made to believe. Thus, he remains a mystery, a very compelling mystery. What I also loved about him was that despite him not being too chattery and not receiving much from the center stage, he felt a three-dimensional character and not your typical cardboard YA hero. He had presence, depth and was simply a darling gentleman.
Jack – I do feel guilty because I predict that most will love her, but she annoyed me, quite a lot. There was a specific instance that had me groaning with “think of the bigger picture, not only about what’s in front of your nose or matters to you!”
Hikaru – Adorable! A fox cutie to liven up the story.
A great Japanese mythology based urban fantasy with action to go around and a wide cast of characters from which I guess everyone can find their favorite. If you are into Japanes themed YA, then this is a must read.