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Samurai Awakening by Benjamin Martin

Samurai Awakening
by Benjamin Martin

Samurai Awakening

By: Benjamin Martin

Release Date: October 10, 2012

Rating: 2 stars

Summary: David Matthews is having a rough time. Being a teenager is bad enough, but when he picks up and moves to Japan for a year, with barely any knowledge of the language or social behaviors of Japanese teenagers, things go from bad to worse.

Until one day, David attends a temple ceremony and finds himself possessed by a Japanese god.

Suddenly, he can understand and speak Japanese. He has unbelievable new powers, including the ability to shift into a tiger, and a powerful sword he can materialize at will from its sheath—his body. But nothing comes for free, and these changes bring David face-to-face with the most terrifying creatures of Japanese legend—vengeful okami, demonic oni and terrifying ghostly yurei.

Trained by his host family, famous sword-makers and the keepers of an ancient secret entrusted to their family by the first Emperor of Japan, David must fight desperately to save his host sister from a hoard of Japanese monsters. Evil has returned to Japan, and David must overcome his own insecurities if he is to save her and become a True Samurai—the protector of Japan.

 

Review: I have a new found interest in Japanese culture, especially in the days of the samurais, and I was really excited about this one. However, I just don’t think this book was for me, and now that I think about it, this book would probably be a reading assignment more suited for a world literature class. 

Before I begin, I wanted to point out that I did read Martin’s bio, which is not a usual habit for me, and I was very impressed by his extensive knowledge of the Japanese culture. And it showed in his writing because he made sure readers could picture every little detail.

But perhaps that was the problem because I felt the book was so bogged down with every intricate element that I felt like I was reading an encyclopedia or a guidebook. I guess the thought in my mind was I don’t think it can be made into a full-length film because there wasn’t enough actual meat to the story. But I know making a movie was not something Martin had in mind, so that’s kind of beside the point.

For a book about spirits and samurais, this book really lacked action. And when there was a fight – the criminal, the reveal of who was involved with the ōkami and the possession, Natsuki’s fight with the large ghost – it was all very short-lived. Usually it was just the metal or a few moves or a stab, and it was over in a matter of paragraphs. I was looking forward to reading some cool martial arts moves.

The showdown in Chapters 33-34 did have a lot of action, but some of the fight scenes were just glossed over. And I pictured David and the wolf (don’t want to ruin the story) leaping forward, but it’s one of those where all of a sudden, everything goes white, and then you have someone waking up with no idea what’s going on.

I thought Martin did a nice job packaging everything at the end, and I liked how everything was explained about what had happened and how everyone is dealing now. But unless I missed it, the question that was never answered waswhy David? In these types of books, there’s always the dramatic end where all is revealed and the epiphany of “my child, you were chosen because…” or whatever, LOL.

But I never saw that. There has not been a Jitsugen Samurai in “many years,” and along comes a foreigner who has had no Japanese background or knowledge of its language or traditions whatsoever. I just wish there was something about David’s lineage or the spirit finding some strength in his character or anything that would just give me an explanation of why this fascinating thing happened to this random person.

Overall, this was not a bad book by any means, and I don’t want to give an impression that I felt that way. I think Martin is very intelligent, and he is a talented writer. But it was just not at all what I was expecting so I just couldn’t get into it. So yeah, not the book for me, so I’m giving it two stars for “okay,” but I’m sure there will be a lot of Japanese fanatics will eat the book up.

Go to Katy’s review on Goodreads.

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