Thursday, February 18, 2010
by Rick Lake
Pub: Dec 2009
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 friends, 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 become impossible for Taro to turn his back on his fate.
Young Taro is living the simple life of a fisherman with his best friend Hiro until he is assaulted by ninjas in his humble village.
Luckily he is saved by a mysterious ninja (hehehe) named Shusaku but before they are safe Taro is fatally wounded and must choose between death or becoming a myth - vampire.
Blood Ninja is an excellent book...until the end. It was like a Quentin Tarantino movie. But more on that later...
The characters feel real and the story is great if not a little cliched. The action and suspense is nearly constant throughout which I loved. Lake did an excellent job capturing the setting of in ancient Japan...maybe too good a job.
Throughout the book in order to give a sense of proportion, Lake compares things to tatami mats and torii gates. Funny enough, I'm not well versed in ancient Japanese culture. I have no idea what those things are, and without the perspective I had trouble getting visuals in certain scenes.
Ironically he does describe things that are rather obvious or common knowledge. For instance, the book is about vampires and in the beginning he overhears two men talking about someone who had two puncture wounds on his neck and was completely drained of blood.
The characters discuss that they think a kyuuketsuki is responsible. Automatically you think vampire but guys go on to explain the legend of the kyuuketsuki and it's all the usual vampire folklore.
Vampire myth I know and, okay if you want to go into it again, but you can't let me know if a room is 10 feet across! No, Lake has to tell me it's the length of six tatami mats. Come on! But all in all this is a minor issue that can be overlooked.
Remember I mentioned about the Quentin Tarantino movie? Well, that comes at the end. It's a blood bath, physically and emotionally. There's lots of sacrifice and betrayal and overall unpleasantness.
I felt some things in the final scenes were unnecessary and rushed, and some things just left me feeling cheated. It's like Lake thought at the end, "Crap! This is all TOO perfect!" and decided things had to go bad. I would have been happier with less bitter and more sweet.
Blood Ninja is a wild ride and loads of fun. But the ending... I would have preferred different but, hey, you can always pick it up from the library. And Tarantino fans - this is your book!
The Cover: That's pretty cool how they made the O's bleeding puncture marks, but a ninja is never so sloppy!
The First Lines: Taro straightened up, took a deep breath, and pulled back the string of his bow. There was a familiar twinge from is left shoulder, where a think silver scar traced a semicircle from chest to back, at intervals punctuated by darker circles suggestive of large tooth marks.
These lines are pretty good. They create tension and mystery right away. Taro is hunting something and he has been attacked before by a creature with large teeth. I'm interested.
Blood Ninja has great action, interesting characters and a rapid pace. It kept me turning pages and while I wasn't completely won over by the ending, it was a fun read.