Stormdancer  - Jay Kristoff also in my blogStormdancer is a Young Adult Fantasy fiction about a Kitsune Yukiko and her father was sent to find a mythical creature for their shogun. The novel consisted of 35 chapers with various point of views from Yukiko, Masaru, the Arashitora, the Shogun and some others. It have glossary at the end of the book because the author uses Japanese words while writing and there's tremendous descriptive writing accompanied with every scenes that spans from raindrops, smells and the furniture.Stormdancer is one of the most highly anticipated novel in YA communities for a good reason. Its Asian-inspired steampunk and the cover is a girl with a sword. Generally its well-liked by most reviewers who like reading manga and anime. Its foreign, its interesting. But this is possibly top as the most disappointing hyped book in this quarter of the year. LanguageWell, apparently it was said that the language and stuff is intended because its asian-inspired and I shouldn't be in panty-twisted mood because the whole language madeupness is 'forgivable' because its intended to. Fine. But remember, its 'intended' to be a Japanese Steampunk book so naturally, those who have some interest in Japanese culture would be attracted to this book.But, the usage of pseudo-Japanese in this novel is actually equivalent to a book written in any language that is badly edited AND ridden with countless of grammatical errors. In other word, unpublishable. The point was, its hard to read without being a grammar police and complain about verbs and spellings every pages! The book bastardize even the most basic kindergarten level Japanese which made the whole book unnatural to read by a normal person who know a tiny amount of japanese language. Here's an example of a novel that made an entire language. Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange is a Russian-British fusion distopia novel and uses Nadsat in every page of his book. He created the language with a fusion of English and Russian slangs and idiomatic expressions. And its shows that he did extensive research to his novel which is frighteningly original. Most of people consider him a genius in linguistic because he is one and the way that he uses the root words and combine it into a very setting-appropriate language that was natural even to a British or a Russian reader.What made this book a failure is that there are a lot of basic wiki-able thing that a person can do that the author just basically ignore. This 'tiny' but constant repetitive errors is very distracting and divert my attention from the plot and characters's dialogues.Kanji is not a symbol. Its words. Imagine a person calling a noun as a hieroglyphics symbol.It doesn't help at all that the dialogues in this book is in broken fake japanese.Of course, it will be a bit too much to ask for a writer who basically don't know Japanese besides from a translated comic book to know about this. But when you first went through the first couple of pages, you'll notice a map which basically never had a function while reading this book but existed because naturally its a fantasy book.Here's an example. There's no kanji whatsoever in this book besides Romanji names.Since Kanji often carry double meaning when paired with another words so I just have to assume the most 'likely' meaning to it.Minori.実里 (beautiful harbour)Yama. 山 (mountain)Iishi Mountains. 飯石山 (food-stone mountain which 飯石 is a real place btw but is without a mountain)Kojima 小島 (little island)Shoujo River.少女川 (girl river)*Kigen 機嫌 (Mood) or 紀元 (era) or whateveretcOkay. As you see, its a map. Yes, there's some eye raising thing happening, there's nothing big deal about it. Until you read the book and there are repetitive usage of the word 'Shima'."And from wedded bliss, eight children drew precious life: The Isles of Shima.""As was custom among all the great bloodlines of Shima,""long-forgotten days when the kami still walked Shima with earthly feet,:"The Shogun of Shima surveyed the people around him""shall be the richest man in all of Shima.""So too would the islands of Shima transcend...""the last nagaraja of Shima through the Renshi swamps,""Next Stormdancer of Shima,""Ten Thousands Days speaks of eight islands of Shima"and a bunch more... but now I need you to read this and replace "Shima" with the word "Island"and I repeat, Shima is 島 and is "Island". Who would name an island as island, twice?!And then you'll understand why I had to take a deep breath and try to keep my senses together.If GRR Martin can create "Westeros" and Tolkien can create "Middle Earth" and Le Guin's Earthsea, why can't you just replace the Shima with Ryukyu Islands (琉球諸島 - Ryuku shoto and 諸島 means group of islands) with some other things that was not two syllable of 島島 in this 'alternate world'. So... thats just one tiny word that was probably mention a hundred time in this novel. Imagine what other word did to me. Which --> Yama is 山 which is a "Mountain"."Plus we'll need to refuel in Yama City""We're heading south, toward Yama.""Akihito and Kasumi on a sky-ship to Yama.""Lord Izanagi commanded to Yama Kings"In addition to that, here's another repetitive things in this book.Normally, God is refered to as kamisama, 神様. Even if the book have their own gods but it wouldnt hurt to just generalized as 'okamisama' or 'izanagisama' or 'izanagiokamisama' instead of "Lord Izanagi" in every single repetition. I first thought that was actually a person since the word Lord is very specific to the Shogun (especially with the over repetitive "great lord")And another thing.嵐虎 aka "Arashitora", the thunderbird in this book. 嵐虎 is not that wrong in Chinese but its usually written like this 嵐の虎 (arashinotora) in Japanese (like 'Ushio to Tora'). の can be seen as something than can replace 'of' or ('s). 嵐 can also be shortened into "Ran" with kanjis. But here's the thing, there's no such word exist for Griffin in Japanese. Japanese don't have Griffin's mythology. Griffins is from western mythology. Japanese call Griffins as グリフィン. Plus, Griffins isn't even a tiger. All this lazy worldbuilding is giving me hives..--ExpressionsI think someone just ctrl-replace all "yes" in the novel with "hai", which brings up to awkward stunted phrases in a sentence. And this happened every chapters."....Hai, great Lord.""Enough for one day, hai?""Hai, great Lord.""It is a gift, hai.""Hai," it said."The solitude is pleasant, hai?""I can get into the trees, hai.""Hai," Yukiko nodded. "Aiya" Daichi shook his head."Hai, sama.""You will tell it to behave, hai""Hai, Lady"Oh God...."Hai" it's actually ハイツ. Ha-i-tsu (silent つ). Thats why normally in literature we wrote it as "Hait" and if you listen to people saying Yes in japanese, you'll hear it as "Hait" too.In manga, characters often say hai with prolonged i (イ).... example: haiiiiiiii! aka "ハイイイイイイイイイ!".Interesting trivia, Hai is actually "Hi/Hello" in Malay. when I see, "Hai, sama", I actually think "Hai, sama-sama." (Hi, you're welcome). So, I can't help but finding them *above quotes* as funny. In weird situations. In serious scenes.News to everyone, saying such thing alone is considered as stunted and unconvincing so thats why people have polite sentences like "kudasai", "oneigaishimasu", "desuka" etc at the end of a word. That's why the excessive politeness dialogues in some translated manga. That's Asian for you. Respect.And now, let's start with the suffix. There's "chan", "san" and "sama". However, these are suffix. It NEVER mean ANYTHING on their own. You don't call people with "sama". We call them with their first or last name included. Like Mr Hayao Miyazaki with Miyazaki-san or Miyazaki-sama or Hayao-chan. Sama is not something you replace on the word "sir".So if a Shogunate wanted you to find a griffin, instead of you say "Hai, my lord. It will be so.", this is what normal translated subtitled movie response, "Certainly, my lord. We will do as you commanded it". Simple as it is and even if someone read it in Japanese, it won't be deviating so much in English and it does add to your word count. -Also, when you say 'Asian-inspired' and did a lengthy descriptive details copied from a Japanese dictionary. It wasn't that hard to open up an international chat room and ask whether "Aiya" is a Japanese expression.In case everyone didn't notice it, China and Japan is still in murky situation. A Mainland Chinese person certainly wouldn't think a Japanese would use Chinese expressions on things. Naturally.Besides, there's THOUSANDS of expression of frustration and distress that you can use in Japanese..... どうして???Another problematic thing that point out the inability for the author to even look up on internet. "too much at stake to allow a few missing pandas to get in the way of production quotas." Are pandas native in Japan? uh..????....nope. Even I have second thought about putting pandas anywhere in my writing.... because...Just don't.--And here's another thing that made me frown."....armies to war overseas against the round-eye gaijin.""But if the Doctown gaijin had misgivings about the treatment of their countrymen,""the gaijin barbarians across the seas to my will""Brilliant blue, like a gaijin's eyes"shipload of gaijin""enslave gaijin""Taken from a gaijin castle.""the gaijin will quail before you.""The gaijin must be broken"oh God.... is this a way to create some racist remark or something.'Gaijin'-ism dated before the european imperialism for outsiders like unfamiliar strangers. Gaijins can also be Asians like Korean, Chinese, Thai, Malay, Indian, Bangladeshi, Indonesian and etc. If you actually google Gaijin, its not just mean round-eye white foreigner. As if some of us Asians doesn't have our own perception on racial prejudices toward the rest of the continent.. what made this book necessary to hate all westies?Seriously, if its mentioned ONCE. It won't be an issue. Alas, its a descriptive novel and randomly it just have to pop up to create an ominous realistic steampunk atmosphere fueling Asians as backward elitist society. Its not wrong. They used to be those crazed folks with the perceptions that they are the better Asia and their emperor are God. That's why they invade from the north and want to exterminate a population in this country. In the history, they are the Daleks of my country. But that doesn't mean I couldn't read subtleties or be empathic with them post-WWII nor does it necessitate me to have my own pprejudices on them or their literature. Its poorly done.And Asians generally dont label people with the shape of their eyes. There are 566 words on eyes in this book on eyes alone and a bunch of it is "round-eyes".If you're in my country, we have every single types of eyes shapes. "Round-eyes" is not a curse nor a derogatory compound word. Horikita Maki and a lot of Japanese have natural round eyes. They lived near Russia for heaven sakes, that a lot of genetic mixing to stereotype a nation due to some hereditary epicanthal folds.Not sure if a foreigner felt its necessary to include such thing to look like its authentically Asian. Its not. If it doesn't add anything to the story. Just don't add it. BTW, why cant the dialogues be like a normal conversation without these streotyped Asianized-movie-talking-english-trying-to-sound-asian thing. Its a story where everyone speak japanese to each other. The dialogues shouldn't be this weird hybrid of bad Asian dubbed movies. I'm not sure about general reviewers think but all of these is maddening distracting. I'm insanely weirded out with this over abundance of unnecessary things to be seen as 'Asian-inspired'.Characterization and RomanceKitsune Yukiko - I really wanted to like her but I find her bland as a girl with a sword and very basic archetypal. Baby Doll (Emily Browning) is much more likable than Yukiko. You don't add a sword to a girl and expect me to buy that she's awesome strong character. Her character description is very basic and unimaginative. I can't even find myself enjoying her journey to the end of the bookFrom the description of a strong and sword-weilding character, I was expecting thisinstead of thisWhat character progression? Seriously. She's classic Mary-Sue. Arashitora/Buruu - I'm quite disturbed by Buruu's dialogues and the use oof CAPITALIZED WORDS IN EVERY SCENE. My eyes went wide to capture those wordsHis first scene on the ship and the forest part is the only bright part of this novel, but to the end of this book, I'm still not impressed because his characterization jumped from Agressive to Sympathetic in the middle of the book.He became a pet character like pokemon characters. Its like Ash/Satoshi just captured a fierce legendary creature after a long fight and then once pokeballed they become best friends.Whaa-?Kin and Hiro - The infamous love triangle. Actually, I never see a love triangle because I'm still working out with the bulk of the descriptiveness to detect the existence of one but I get Kin's plot but when Hiro came into the story, it goes out of the spectrum with Yukiko's motivation. She kept jumping into conclusion, make friends, get into trouble but I never see the sense of adding a romantic storyline in a story thats basically wasn't about a romantic storyline. Its being forced into this book and I hate it.There's no build up in Yukiko and Hiro relationship nor 'sensuous' attraction (and all these descriptives about the eyes and how beautiful Yukiko is doesn't count!) and then suddenly they're willing to sleep with each other when they basically don't know each other! Relationship is about trust. That's not how you build epic romance! In fact its a waste of space in this novel. Since the Stormdancer is supposed to be a serial so why couldn't it be prolonged into a cliffhanger for the next novel? Build up the attraction or something. ThemeThe novel is a classic war against drugs, addiction, natural environment, technological advancement, cultural regression and governmental oppression. But it is very black and white in some expect and some scenes are quite preaching.Yes, shogunate and bushido code is oppressive and brain-washing with loyalties and such but so is fascism, political mania, scientific mania, hollywood idolatry and etc. But these things are not a 'black and white' thing that you just venture head on without thinking about it for a moment.Trying to be superficial about everything will weaken the plot. And there's a lot of plot-holes in this book. There's a lot of ronin stories out there especially tales and legends. Why not base on that? Oh wait, the author don't research nor do anything for believability. Why I even bother?If you read history book, you'll notice everything is dystopian. If this book highly depended on wikipedia for its terms then everyone should know Sakoku (鎖国, "locked country") in 17th century Japan. There's a lot of interesting things happening in the era which this novel can be based on especially Battle of Sekigahara.I get the V for Vandetta vibes but it's very predictable and redundant and nothing original. I never get why others made a reference about Eon and Eona, well, this book is nothing similar to Eon especially with the coup d'état scenes. -For a couple of weeks trying to get into this book, I was completely exhausted by the attempts and the facepalming my face had to endure. For me, the lack of authenticities and the author's inability to make a convincing world building made the book difficult for me.The character and dialogue are sparsely entertaining even with lengthy details on descriptives which made the book read like it was a filler-fest. I do read richly descriptive books but I do expect the writing to be balanced or complex enough to be engaging. I wouldn't be so certain that a fan of Japanese Steampunk would love this novel with the obvious errors and ignorant attitude to Japanese culture. There are probably abundance of steampunk historical fiction of any form in the market and Stormdancer is probably a glance through to avid Japanese otaku readers. I really don't feel the story is engaging as I wanted to. I might not consider the continuation or recommendation unless these major language inconsistencies is fixed since it does disturbed my reading but the book as a whole is quite standalone on its own for me to sum up my feelings on the story.--And this is not a do-not-finish review. I do not meant to be snarky or such but well, this is my honesty. I spend my time reading and I provide my own opinion.I gave my own reason why this book is troublesome to me and its major enough and unforgivable that I had lay down my reasons and I do explain it and such. Even if I didn't do it. Others will.I don't need to be agreeable to everything that everyone push me. Nor I am in that subset of group that live in a bubble that hate every debut authors in existence. I don't people please. I do reviews from my own reading of every single goddamn pages of it.And finally, you know if a chocolate ice-cream is piped wrongly, it would look like this.Don't ever make chocolate ice-cream analogies with negative reviews. Just don't.--This ARC review of Stormdancer is supplied by the publisher St Martin Press via Netgalley. The novel will be published on 18 September 2012.