Official Review: Noriko's Journey by Claire Youmans

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ViziVoir
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Official Review: Noriko's Journey by Claire Youmans

Post by ViziVoir » 06 Jul 2018, 23:17

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Noriko's Journey" by Claire Youmans.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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Noriko's Journey by Claire Youmans does a very good job of detailing aspects of Japanese mythology. Its characters are distinct and anchored in the setting, and their relationships are believable. With a half-dragon character, multiple characters that can turn into birds, and horses that can communicate mentally, there is some excellent groundwork for a compelling story. Unfortunately, there's a lack of dramatic tension and focused conflict that really hinders the narrative.

At the beginning of the book, Noriko deals with adjusting to her new life as a married woman. Since she had trained for many years to be a female warrior, learning to accept a less tumultuous lifestyle is an interesting concept. However, it isn't given much time or development at all before it's drowned out by other aspects of the plot: namely, the half-dragon princess Renko trying to create a steam engine, as well as the three babies on the way from multiple different mothers. There's some conflict in Noriko coming to terms with not being able to have children, but again, this is barely explored.

The novel concludes with Noriko going on a journey to find the family she was separated from at a young age. Her desire to connect with her family is compelling, and her emotional scenes are powerfully written, but they still felt disjointed in the context of the overall plot. Many characters other than Noriko just aren't developed enough for me to feel attached to them.

The lack of flow, though, is really the only negative thing about this book. It depicts Japanese culture and mythology vividly, and the challenges that the characters face, like Renko's relationship with her mother and Noriko's pursuit of her origins, are relatable and believable, despite the fantastic setting. Several of the story's elements are interesting, and I genuinely wanted more development of them. It's worth mentioning that this is a sequel, so it's likely that some aspects are delved into earlier in the series.

Since I haven't read the prior books in the series, I have no choice but to judge this book on its own merits. The excellent setting and characters, as well as the lack of focus, mean that I rate it 3 out of 4 stars. I'd recommend it to people with an interest in Japanese mythology who enjoy worldbuilding more than a limited plot. It's probably worth reading the series in order, though, as I can see the many characters becoming overwhelming otherwise.

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Post by KristyKhem » 07 Jul 2018, 15:31

I love the cover design of this book. However, all of the plot elements makes me think that it can get a little confusing. Perhaps readers really need to read the other books in the series to fully grasp the premise and characters. Thank you for writing about your experience with this book.

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Post by crediblereading2 » 07 Jul 2018, 18:01

This is really an interesting story especially the part about her trying to adjust to a less tumultuous lifestyle. Thank you for a superb review as usual.

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Post by Cecilia_L » 07 Jul 2018, 20:01

Thanks for your interesting review. It sounds like this book might be best understood when read as part of the series but I'm not sure if I'm up for a series on Japanese mythology.

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Post by Kendra M Parker » 07 Jul 2018, 20:19

Japanese culture and mythology are not frequently explored in fantastic literature. This seems like it has some very interesting concepts, but it’s too bad that they aren’t explored further. I could see that becoming a very dramatic book if it had done that.

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Post by julessawyer » 08 Jul 2018, 00:11

The book cover is beautiful. I got interested because it features Japanese mythology in it but too bad about the plot. Japanese mythology is among the most vibrant and diverse mythology I've encountered. I think it is also among the hardest to work in a story plot. Thanks for the review. I'm still interested to read this though.

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Post by hadizasalisu » 08 Jul 2018, 08:32

ViziVoir wrote:
06 Jul 2018, 23:17
[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Noriko's Journey" by Claire Youmans.]
Book Cover
3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review


Noriko's Journey by Claire Youmans does a very good job of detailing aspects of Japanese mythology. Its characters are distinct and anchored in the setting, and their relationships are believable. With a half-dragon character, multiple characters that can turn into birds, and horses that can communicate mentally, there is some excellent groundwork for a compelling story. Unfortunately, there's a lack of dramatic tension and focused conflict that really hinders the narrative.

At the beginning of the book, Noriko deals with adjusting to her new life as a married woman. Since she had trained for many years to be a female warrior, learning to accept a less tumultuous lifestyle is an interesting concept. However, it isn't given much time or development at all before it's drowned out by other aspects of the plot: namely, the half-dragon princess Renko trying to create a steam engine, as well as the three babies on the way from multiple different mothers. There's some conflict in Noriko coming to terms with not being able to have children, but again, this is barely explored.

The novel concludes with Noriko going on a journey to find the family she was separated from at a young age. Her desire to connect with her family is compelling, and her emotional scenes are powerfully written, but they still felt disjointed in the context of the overall plot. Many characters other than Noriko just aren't developed enough for me to feel attached to them.

The lack of flow, though, is really the only negative thing about this book. It depicts Japanese culture and mythology vividly, and the challenges that the characters face, like Renko's relationship with her mother and Noriko's pursuit of her origins, are relatable and believable, despite the fantastic setting. Several of the story's elements are interesting, and I genuinely wanted more development of them. It's worth mentioning that this is a sequel, so it's likely that some aspects are delved into earlier in the series.

Since I haven't read the prior books in the series, I have no choice but to judge this book on its own merits. The excellent setting and characters, as well as the lack of focus, mean that I rate it 3 out of 4 stars. I'd recommend it to people with an interest in Japanese mythology who enjoy worldbuilding more than a limited plot. It's probably worth reading the series in order, though, as I can see the many characters becoming overwhelming otherwise.

******
Noriko's Journey
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon

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Very vivid review, and I really like Japanese mythology, but I'll take your advice and read the prequels first, and I really did love the cover, good job .

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Post by Laysundra Savah » 08 Jul 2018, 16:55

sounds like it will be a nice interesting read regardless of the story plot or lack there of as clearly it was written in the review. I don't know know to much about Japanese mythology but to have a book series that spans this might be worth the read. A good review for sure thank you for writing it.

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Post by kandscreeley » 08 Jul 2018, 18:26

I do enjoy good characters and settings. This sounds like the characters are very diverse. But with the lack of dramatic tension, I'm just not sure. Glad that you liked this one, though. Thanks.
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Post by Tamorie21 » 08 Jul 2018, 20:22

It's a shame about the overall lack of character and conflict development. The types of stories I enjoy reading most are those where I can feel the tension and the importance of certain events, and when I can connect with the characters. It's a bit of a let down, what you said, but... I still feel like I should read it! The pull of Japanese folklore and Noriko's overall journey makes me want to find out more. Thanks for your review! :)

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Post by Chidexzy » 09 Jul 2018, 02:12

Such an interesting book to read. Really enjoyed it

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Post by bclayton13 » 09 Jul 2018, 20:49

Thanks for the review! I enjoy Japanese mythology so I'm happy to see it explored.

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Post by daydreaming reader » 10 Jul 2018, 20:06

Myths in general are interesting, but the lack of character development is a disappointing. However, if I do read it I will definitely take your advise and read the other books in the series. Thanks for great review.

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Post by Eryn Bradshaw » 11 Jul 2018, 18:10

I'd absolutely love to read more about Japanese myths. I'm not sure I could get through a book without dramatic tension and character development. I'd hope the other books before this one touch more on it. If I look into it, I'll definitely read from the start of the series.
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