Rileigh Martin would love to believe that adrenaline gave her the uncanny courage and strength to fend off three muggers. But it doesn't explain her dreams of fifteenth century Japan, the incredible fighting skills she suddenly possesses, or the strange voice giving her battle tips and danger warnings. While worrying that she's going crazy (always a reputation ruiner), Rileigh gets a visit from Kim, a handsome martial arts instructor, who tells Rileigh she's harboring the spirit of a five-hundred-year-old samurai warrior.
I found this book at an indie bookstore in the local authors section. Since the author is also from St. Louis and the book seemed to have potential, I thought it would be fun to review it on the blog.
This book is a bit out of my age bracket, centering around a pop-punk skater girl in the summer before her senior year of high school, but there were promises of ancient Japanese legends and ninjas. How could I resist? There are good chunks in this book, like when the samurai spirit subtly makes her presence known to Rileigh, the clever similes, the mysterious Asian guy that keeps showing up, and other things I don't want to spoil. But overall, I was disappointed.
I think I just expected more than what this was supposed to be. I wanted Rileigh to be like a girl version of Peter Parker who has to come to terms that she is basically now a super hero. Instead, we get an Avril Lavinie wannabe who tries to blow off her inner Buffy the Vampire Slayer. For a story about a skater girl harboring the spirit of an ancient samurai, I expected the tone to be a bit edgier. The dialouge was cheesy and overall the story just felt a little hokey. Some of the characters annoyed me because they were just too on the nose. Her mother, a retired model, is a complete drama queen but pays little attention to Raleigh. Her father is out of the picture, but I guess that's convenient for the story so she can come and go as she pleases without any adults wondering what she's up to. Her cookie cutter gay best friend was almost unbearable until the last few chapters. He redeemed himself when he finally showed more depth to his character and I was glad Raleigh had such a good friend.
The ending is what saved this book for me. The plot was intriguing enough to make me want to read on, but the ending was so chilling. Without being gory, the author describes violent acts in a way that is so gripping I had to hold my breath. Gibsen is a good writer and has a strong voice, it's just not my cup of cocoa. If I had all the time in the world, I would probably read the sequels. But unfortunately, they aren't high up on my TBR list.
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