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|Print List Price:||£11.95|
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Toru: Wayfarer Returns (Sakura Steam Series Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Title: Toru: Wayfarer Returns
Author: Stephanie R Sorensem
Star Rating: 5 Stars
Number of Readers: 22
Writing Style: 10/10
Of the 22 readers:
22 would read another book by this author.
22 thought the cover was good or excellent.
22 felt it was easy to follow.
22 would recommend this story to another reader to try.
15 felt the author’s strongest skill was ‘plotting a story’.
7 felt the author’s strongest skill was ‘developing the characters’.
22 felt the pacing was good or excellent.
22 thought the author understood the readership and what they wanted.
‘A love alternative-history, so this was right up my street.’ Male reader, age 39
‘A very well-structured novel. The author works well in this genre.’ Female reader, aged 21
‘I was enthralled by this book.’ Male reader, aged 18
‘Firstly, I loved the cover. It perfectly fits the story. This is a page turner. The pacing is perfect and there are a ton of twists and turns. The characters, although a little shallow, were fun to follow.’ Male reader, aged 27
‘This author is very, very good. She works well with character and speech. But it’s her ability to put together a thrilling plot that is her best quality. Nice cover too.’ Male reader, aged 56
‘The ending was particularly well written. I will be hunting for more book by this author.’ Female reader, aged 52
‘The steampunk element was not too visible, but what there was seemed imaginative and well-described.’ Male reader, aged 32
‘A gipping adventure. A Bronze Medal Winner and highly recommended.’ The Wishing Shelf Book Awards
That cover is awesome and I love both steampunk and stories of feudal Japan. Unfortunately, this book failed on both fronts. It's not really steampunk, despite a couple dirigibles and it's only Japanese in title.
While it's set in Japan and uses Japanese words and talks about Japanese society, all of the characters are essentially westernized. For example, Toru talks about being uncomfortable with the loud brash American women. However, the only prominent female character we're given is...you guessed it, loud and brash. She troops around in men's clothing, often found signing bawdy drinking songs with the blacksmith and fighting with a <i>naginata</i>. Hardly the paragon of demureness we're told to expect. People talk outside their station, are more direct than should be, etc. We're told about Japan, but not provided a Japanese story.
Further, the books presents as if in praise Japanese culture, but the whole plot hinges on the westernization of the country and destruction of their age-old way of life. Everything from the environment, to the social hierarchy, to women's place in society is challenged and discarded in exchange for a western style. They even chose western uniform styles for their military. This basically subtly shows the old to be it to be less ideal than what it is becoming, therefore the East is shown to pale in comparison to the West, which I believe goes against everything the book claims to be trying to do.
Outside of the heavy ethnocentrism of it, the plot simply stretches believability and credulity too far. Toru spent two years as a castaway in America. Somehow without connections he was a guest of the rich and powerful, giving him access to military information, schools, businesses, apparently everything. Plus, he learned and perfected accentless English. Then he returned home and engineered a total industrial revolution in less than a year. Again, as a nobody with less than no connections; he was condemned to die. But he still convinced an entire nation to commit treason. And everyone just basically decides to go along with it, at the risk of death, all like, "Hmm, sure, sounds like fun. Here is access to all my money and resources, have at it." Then, despite his lack of station and being one among many on a battlefield, he disobeys direct orders, acts on his own and of course saves the day with no repercussions. Apparently he's the only intelligent, forward thinking person in all Japan. Gah, irritating.
The writing suffers from classic show vs tell problems, its repetitive and predictable, the language is painfully anachronistic and the characters are flat. In the end, I had to force myself to finish it.
Note: I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I cannot recommend this story enough. The plot and pacing were awesome, the writing was fantastic, and the story itself was something that just— surrounded me. Stephanie R. Sorensen is a great author, and I look forward to what she will put out in the future! I was given a copy of this most excellent story in exchange for an honest review.
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Starting with the stunning cover page, and the stylized inner pages, Toru: The Wayfarer Returns invites the reader to...Read more