An ending to a series!
Author: Nick Lake
Title: Blood Ninja III: The Betrayal of the Living
Release date: 7th of August 2012
Series: Blood Ninja #3
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Adventure, Historical, Fantasy
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 343 in hardback format
Source: Bought from the Book Depository
The fate of feudal Japan hangs in the balance in this bloody conclusion to the epic trilogy.
Taro is at a crossroads: He has vanquished Lord Oda for good, but with no land and no title, he has no hope of marrying Hana, the daughter of a daimyo. So when Taro receives news of a murderous dragon and the large reward for killing it, he and his friends find themselves on a dangerous quest to slay the beast.
Their mission has the potential to save the people of Japan—but failure will result in the deaths of thousands. And dragons are not the only monsters they will encounter: The dead, led by the odious Kenji Kira, have begun to rise, and they have Taro in their sights.
In this heart-stopping conclusion to the Blood Ninja trilogy, the future of all feudal Japan is in danger, and everything Taro holds dear will be threatened. But it is the betrayal of flesh and blood—his own flesh and blood—that may be his ultimate undoing.
By now there should be no surprise that I anticipate and welcome any YA set in Japan, be it in a modern or historical settings, everything goes. I’ve read the previous two books in this engaging, imaginative and action-packed series and thoroughly enjoyed them, and I’m quite sad it took me so long to finally pick up the final book. What I discovered is that everything I found awesome previously is still there, but so are heaps of other aspects that just make the last book cramped and full of various plot devices, unnecessary additions, stalling, and despite including all these new things, the story somewhat dragged and felt really slow.
Zombies and vampires and dragons, oh my! That was the source of why I felt this final book lacking. Vampire ninjas as unique twist to the story was ingenious to me and when I heard about the dragon, it was still quite exciting, but when the zombies come around and then the god of death and why oh why can’t that creepily annoying villain Kenji Kira already hit the bucket, then it started to become a bother. There was for sure lots of action, close calls, incredibly tense and oh-my-god-what’s-going-to-happen moments, but all these heaps of bad guys against our poor trio of heroes, who had internal relationship issues as well, wasn’t really encouraging and pleasant to follow. Also, poor Taro, I genuinely felt sorry for him in this book, how much torture, physical pain, emotional pain, betrayal can one person bear.
Despite my whining, I still more or less liked the book, it had a really satisfying conclusion and I was left leaving the series with a smile on my face. I was really happy on how everything was pulled together and all the fates were more than earned. I also absolutely loved the confrontation between Lord Tokugawa and Taro, it was a long time coming and I was on the edge of my seat when they finally met for real, face to face. What a wonderful final showdown they had. Also, Nobunaga was a great villain in the two previous books and Kenji Kira was only disgusting, but the one with more momentum and the main adversary was without a doubt Tokugawa.
While the main gang of three were already from the start somewhat of a cliché: a boy with a destiny, his tough friend and a beautiful strong-willed lady love - I thought they made a decent team and I quite liked all three of them. I’m happy that everything wasn’t smooth sailing for them in this book and various issues came up that were in the long run unavoidable and the separations they went through were good for character development and strengthening bonds, especially for the two sidekicks. I’m glad that the both of them also were able to see each other and survive without Taro by their side all the time.
I can say that this was an excellent series with imagination, fights, adventure, Japanese mythology and, most of all, my favourite setting, especially since feudal settings for Japan-themed YA books are incredibly rare. The final book was based on some aspects a slight let down, because there was just too much of everything in it, but it still worked and the previous two were so good that they compensated slightly for the spots lacking. I’m quite sad that this series doesn’t have as many readers as it deserves though, because I guess, it is somewhat of a niche mix of setting and genre. Still, give the series a try, especially if you enjoy historical adventure, action and manga.