Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Blood Ninja, by Nick Lake

Wow, what a book.  A lot of you know that I love variety and this book definitely gave me something different than anything I've been reading lately!  Blood Ninja takes place in feudal Japan and is about vampire ninjas, ancient magic and a web of lies and deceit that quickly unravels to take the reader on a dangerous and bloody journey.  I have been a big fan of Japan and Japanese culture ever since I was a little kid, so that was the first thing that interested me about this book, but the calculated writing was what kept me rapt for 341 pages (NookColor count).  I felt like I was living in one of my favorite anime movies like Ninja Scroll.  The descriptions of the sword use, the falconry and the fighting itself seemed as if Nick Lake must have really done these things, but hopefully he's never decapitated anyone!  I mean, of course he hasn't or he would be locked up in jail instead of writing books (haha), but those scenes were extremely realistic as well and as a result I would not recommend this one for the faint of heart or to anyone who is put off by gore and violence.  I did have weird dreams after the first night of reading this book myself, but that was the only night and I read the rest of the book in two more chunks before falling asleep, so the story itself does begin to take precedence over the concept and I ended up loving Blood Ninja.  I usually don't like watching or reading about violence, but it gave this book so much character and I wouldn't change it personally.  I don't know who decided this book was YA though and I saw it was approved somewhere for ages 8 and up, did I misread that?  Because, that doesn't seem right if you ask me.  This book should be for 16 and up in my opinion.  I wouldn't want to explain seppuku to a 12-year-old personally.  However, if you get past that or are an adult like me, then Blood Ninja is truly an exceptional book.  So much so, I'm actually going to recommend it to my brother and I rarely have things to recommend to him, because he's a bit of a book snob and is only interested in a book if it has real substance, so that should say a lot.  I think he would love this book and a lot of you out there will too.  I would recommend this book to anyone who loves other cultures, Japan, different time periods, ninjas, vampires, books from the male perspective, fantasy, action, fighting and there's even a bit of a love story in there too for all the fans of romance out there!  :)

Favorite things:  the use of the Japanese language and explanations of tone that helped the reader understand more of what was really being communicated instead of just what was said, the occasional shifts in perspective that allowed us to get to know Lady Oda no Hana better, the fresh and interesting take on vampires, the surprise at the end that wasn't really a cliffhanger but still got me excited for the next book, the realistic characters for the time that showed a kind of sexism and cruelty and Nick Lake's ability to describe confusing things in a clear way to give my mind a perfect picture of a sword fight or a falcon's flight.

Criticisms:  there were vivid descriptions of everything, which can be considered a good thing, but perhaps not when it's a description of a decapitation.  However I felt it gave the book weight and tension, so I personally wouldn't have wanted it toned down at all.  I just wanted to mention it here as a warning to anyone looking for a YA book, because this one is a bit intense and extremely graphic.  Other than that, there were a couple side stories that were hard to focus on, because I knew somehow they would tie in, but I didn't know how and it was a pretty long book, so that was part of my inability to focus as well.  It wasn't enough to make me stop reading or switch to something else though, so...

Overall:  5 out of 5 stars!  I will never forget this series and I look forward to buying the second one to find out what happens next.  :)


  1. Fantastic cover. Vampire ninjas? Well that's new! Makes me curious since it sounds kind of historical~ Also, lately everything I read I ask myself the same question: who approved this book for YA? I think authors are pushing it.

  2. Yeah, it was definitely a new look at vampires! I think they are too or the publishers perhaps. I know YA is a really happening genre right now lol, so maybe they just decide to market it that way even though the author didn't intend for it to be YA.


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