Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book #4: Japan

Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn.

This is another setting I have to remind myself isn’t actually real. My travel bug pricks up its antennae and doesn’t really care about the fact that Japan is in the twenty-first century like the rest of the world, and doesn’t have supernatural ninja people. That we know of.

One of the things I love about this book and the rest of the series is the style of writing – poised, poetic and with an undercurrent of tension. It takes a bit to get used to it, but it really evokes the contrasts in feudal Japan – the calm of art and tea ceremony against the fierce and bloodthirsty battles for control.

It’s a coming of age story (like most of YA I guess), and there are assassins and secret identities and hiding in plain sight (in a few senses of the word). Personally, I love secret identity stories. I can’t help grinning when the hero or heroine tricks everyone into thinking they’re a mild-mannered reporter or a hypochondriac fop, when really they’re SO much more awesome underneath. And when everything is revealed...

The book is told from alternating points of view, with the hero and heroine meeting only briefly and falling desperately, mythically in love. I like alternating POV because you get to see the main characters from each others’ points of view, and you get different perspectives on the same world. I also like it because I tend to write it...

It’s not really much to do with the story, but I LOVE the covers for this series (Hachette hardbacks). I’ve rubbed all the ‘gilt’ off Nightingale Floor because I’ve read it too many times, but it still looks dreamy and balanced and beautiful. I like the design of books. I have been known to buy books because they have a see-through dust jacket (Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness) or the chapters are numbered backwards (The Foreshadowing, Marcus Sedgwick). So pretty/different books make me happy.

Okay, I think I’m going to go read this book again.

More suggestions for Japanese books?

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