by Nick Lake
Release date : December, 1st 2009
Is Taro, a fisherman's son, destined for greatness ? In the course of a day, Taro's entire life changes: His father is murdered before his eyes, and Taro is taken by a mysterious ninja on a perilous journey toward safety. Someone wants Taro dead, but who -- and why? With his best friend, Hiro, and their ninja guide Shusaku, Taro gets caught in the crossfire of a bitter conflict between rival lords for control of imperial Japan. As Taro trains to become a ninja himself, he's less and less sure that he wants to be one. But when his real identity is revealed, it becomes impossible for Taro to turn his back on his fate. (from Simon and Schuster)MY THOUGHTS : Too much blood for my taste...! But let's put that aside for the moment. The story is intriguing, and the legendary aspect brings this mystical twist that I love, although it slows down the action sometimes.
I was really drawn to this book right from the first pages, but at some point I started to feel that the battle scenes became more important than the plot itself, when the opposite may have been wiser and more thrilling. In the end I felt like I had just witnessed a series of confrontations and beheadings, and the story seemed to be a pretext for it all.
I liked the characters and wanted to follow them throughout their adventures, but I thought the relationship between the protagonists lacked development and depth. There was too much focus on certain obvious feelings when others were left aside. This lead to me having no idea how old Taro was for example, and almost no clue of what he looked like.
Back to the blood part : I'm not fond of gore and blood (except when I watch a Tarantino film maybe !), and this book really made me want to close it sometimes. I was actually physically affected ! (gosh, I'm such a chicken !) Some details were just too much. The book is supposed to be for readers 12 +, I would say it's more of a 14 +. But if you like bloody battle scenes, ninja powers with a vampire twist and Japan culture, I would definitely recommend this book. There's definitely something interesting there. But it didn't work out for me. :)