This was a fun read. I honestly almost enjoyed it. It seemed like, after the prologue, that it was going somewhere but then it sorta didn’t. I kept waiting for the story to move somewhere but didn’t get that feeling of actually learning something or that ‘take away from reading this’ feeling.
Firstly this story did not read anything like what I expected from the blurb. A girl struggling to prove herself who gets saved by an unlikely ally. I definitely expected her to be on some epic journey but an obstacle gets in her way thus leading to this alliance. This is not what happened, by far. Secondly, the struggle to prove herself never really took off. She’s one age at the beginning of the book and the next time you see her ten years have passed and she’s been struggling to prove herself worthy to the Kami but it’s all in narration so this struggle isn’t really felt. Also for someone so formidable, it’s hard to believe she loses any of her fights. Seriously she’s bad@#$. The only reason she ever gets in trouble is for the weak ‘hero man saves woman’ plotline, which is eye-roll inducing at best. Like why couldn’t she just shine and be awesome? And for someone so set on becoming one of the gods/Kami, she is forever lamenting on how unworthy she is. When again, she clearly can hold her own. It was a wasted opportunity to have a kickn female lead who didn’t need a man to save her.
That brings me to the man. Masaru. He was not fleshed out that well at all. He apparently hates women. This wasn’t dug into enough for me to be emotionally invested. His mom did stuff to him… okay… but what? So much talk about his reputation but no solid evidence to these hating women claims and the only, literally only other breathing woman besides the Kami queen in this novel, he is actually nice to. So, consider me confused. Also, the deniability plotline is unfortunate. He doesn’t believe in the very real gods. Smh. It’s such an overused plot device especially when he saw the vines and rocks and stuff moving of their own accord and he still was like ‘noooo Kami no real’. Other than to have a reader waiting until he finally accepts this truth having him not believe didn’t serve any real purpose except to string us along really.
And the prophecy. The only thing that kept me reading, was not fully answered. What was so very wrong about the prophecy? Why wasn’t this clearly explained? Why does it still seem like the intended prophecy is the actual prophecy? Where is the big epiphany mentioned in the blurb?
The fight scenes were fun to read but they didn’t really push the narrative forward. They just sorta happened. The side characters were okay but just like Masaru were not deeply fleshed out. This wasn’t like a fifty-page read, it was 136. Definitely, more than enough time to dig into the characters. Flesh out the true meaning of the prophecy, and give Masaru and Shou more everything.
It sorta read like a typical fantasy, and I kept questioning is this really Japanese other than me being told it is. It felt too familiar to really have been entrenched in a culture I’m not that familiar with so I found it odd. Some of the other reviewers who know more than me touched on this which explained why it felt off to me even though I couldn’t place it.
This story had loads of potential. Bucket loads really. But having an all-male cast, and the ever overused women can’t be warriors theme, and Masaru and his hero complex killed the vibe. Like the whole ‘you all can fight but no one actually wants to kill the other’ vibe is so backwards. Death and underhandedness are so deeply entrenched in clan politics this made zero sense. Especially when only one of them can leave this island that only shows up every ten years, (apparently the worshipped gods don’t walk the real realm like any good god should) but to the point, only one of them can leave with whatever power they came there for. He should be ready and willing to do whatever it takes and most certainly if he hates women shouldn’t be claiming one under his protection.
Lastly, there was something about the way this read that felt much more New Adult than YA but I’m fairly certain Masaru is 17 so assuming the rest are his age and no one is in that say 18 to 25 zone I kept questioning if he was the only one that age. Even Shou didn’t quite read like she fit into a YA novel.
All in all, this was an okay read. I finished it in one sitting. But the characters seemed flat, the plot didn’t really lift off the page, the prophecy wasn’t explained that well and somehow at the end of the book it magically had more lines to it, how convenient. And the ending, where I was expecting all things to be explained was essentially just a fight scene, it was a good one mind you, but no real answers were provided. The story just moved on to a good ending for a series. It wasn’t a cliffhanger but it did set up for what’s to come in book two. So nicely rounding out the end of this one and moving forward to the next in a perfectly clean way which I liked.
Ultimately if you’re looking for a decently paced, action-packed book, that is more entertaining than plot-driven this story fits all of that. But if you’re trying to get actively involved in all the hints and nuances that exist in this novel they might not be fully developed enough for you to be satisfied.
And, unrelated to this review, but I really love this cover.