Samurai Girl 2: The Book of the Shadow

Samurai girl 2

Author: Carrie Asai

Publication: Simon Pulse, 2003

Pages: 224

Overall Rating:   bth_45_zps06f87659[1]                     

Rating for Action: bth_35_zps7a173504[1]

Quantity of Action: bth_3-star-rating_zps73bdba73[1]

Age Category: 13+

Brief Summary: Heaven Kogo is still on the run from unknown enemies.  Her father is gravely injured and on the way back to Japan, but that hasn’t stopped people from trying to kill her.  To make matters worse, Hiro, her protector and the object of a serious crush, seems to be getting serious about someone else.  With her enemies closing in and Hiro looking for space, Heaven has to move out on her own.  After years of living the pampered life she has to find a job and an apartment.  But with no skills, no work visa, and bad people on the lookout for her that won’t be an easy task.  On top of everything else is the mystery of Teddy Yukemura, her intended husband.  Just who is Teddy and what does he really want?

Age of Main Character: 19

What I Liked the Most: This is a fun novel.  Heaven Kogo has a great internal voice and it’s cool to follow her as she learns to navigate life in the real world all while having to stay alert for attacks that could come at any moment.

Asai’s writing style is light and breezy while still nailing the action scenes.  She does a great job moving things back and forth between Heaven’s crush on Hiro, her quest to get her life in order, and her battle against unknown enemies.  But while Asai’s writing style might be breezy, the story is anything but and I found myself drawn into Heaven’s problems – her pinning for Hiro, who doesn’t see her as anything but a student he’s obligated to protect, her fears about making it in the real world, her confusion over why people are after her, and her deep uncertainty over Teddy and his motives.

There are a handful of very cool illustrations scattered throughout the book, most of which show Heaven in some badass and vaguely sexy pose.  It was a real treat every time I came across one.

What I Liked the Least: While Heaven’s frustrated crush on Hiro definitely kept the story moving forward, there were times when I found it bit annoying.  I almost wanted to shout at Heaven and Hiro to just get over it and talk already.  Then again, the fact that it pulled me in enough to get me shouting is always the sign of a good story.

How Good was the Action?  Asai really kicks up the action in this book.  Heaven has a lot more confrontations than in the first book and a lot more confidence in herself.  In one scene she actually kidnaps Teddy right out from under his own bodyguards.  And the final fight is very cool.  Asai does a great job with blow-by-blow action and really mixes up Heaven’s fighting style.  She also handles Heaven’s training very well.  It actually felt like I was learning something about how to move through shadows.  This certainly isn’t the best action writing I’ve ever seen, but it’s pretty darn good.

How Engaging was the Story?   As I said above, I really like Heaven’s internal voice and felt drawn into her story.  I cared about what happened to her, and enjoyed seeing her develop as a badass fighter even while her relationship with Hiro fell apart.  It was fascinating to watch her both grow and crumble at the same time.  And Asai does a great job stringing out the mystery of what’s happening to Heaven and who’s after her, trailing out little clues here and there – just enough to make me feel like I’m learning something without giving it all away.

Overall Assessment: Samurai Girl is a sure footed and fun combination of action, mystery, and romance.   Heaven Kogo is a very cool character with great internal dialogue and the action is well done and creative.  If you like your action with a healthy dose of romantic longing, then this is one book you should definitely check out.

Profanity: Yes

Sex: Yes.  There is some kissing and minor making out, and Heaven imagines a lot more kissing going on, but there’s nothing more graphic than that.

Violence: Yes.  There a number of fights with people getting flipped, kicked, punched, and even slashed with a sword.  But there’s no blood and nobody gets killed this time around.

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