Publisher: Angry Robot
Length: 448 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
“Every civilization has its myths. Only one is true.
When eighteen year old Keiko Yamada’s father dies unexpectedly, he leaves behind a one way ticket to Japan, an unintelligible death poem about powerful Japanese spirits and their gigantic, beast-like Guardians, and the cryptic words: “Go to Japan in my place. Find the Gate. My camera will show you the way.”
Alone and afraid, Keiko travels to Tokyo, determined to fulfil her father’s dying wish. There, beneath glittering neon signs, her father’s death poem comes to life. Ancient spirits spring from the shadows. Chaos envelops the city, and as Keiko flees its burning streets, her guide, the beautiful Yui Akiko, makes a stunning confession – that she, Yui, is one of a handful of spirits left behind to defend the world against the most powerful among them: a once noble spirit now insane. Keiko must decide if she will honour her father’s heritage and take her rightful place among the gods.”
I love reading about gods. They are the main reason I started a lot of series like the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson or The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne by Brian Staveley (to cite just a few): gods fascinate me. So, when I read the blurb of Koijiki, I knew that I needed to give this book a try.
Koijiki follows the story of Keiko, an eighteen years old girl who travels to Tokyo after the disapperance of her father who left her with a mysterious note: “Go to Japan in my place. Find the Gate. My camera will show you the way.” Of course, when she gets to Tokyo, she discovers that she’s part of something bigger, something that may include an old quarrel between the Gods that created Japan, and she has to do everything in her power to save the world she knows.
In this book, Japaneses legends meet Modern Tokyo, dragons set fire to subways and teenagers befriend spirits.
I seriously wish this book could be turn into a Studio Ghibli anime or in a graphic novel, it would be fantastic and suit perfectly the story. It was very easy to picture the world, Yastuhashi didn’t drown the book in descriptions but everything setting felt real. Usually when I read, I can’t picture every scenes in my head (because of the excess (or lack sometimes) of descriptions), but, reading Koijiki, I realized that I could and it was a really neat experience.
Koijiki is a good YA book, the heroine is smart, funny and it was easy to relate to .However, I would have liked to know a little more about her and since the book was pretty short and fast paced, I felt like I did not have time for that, which was a tad disappointing. Also, I found that some dialogues were a bit awkward, I couldn’t really imagine actual people talking like in real life but, overall, the writing was pretty good and easy to get through so it didn’t pull me out of the story as much as it could have. Koijiki is a debut-novel so it’s not that surprising and I’m sure that Keith Yastuhashi will improve that in future books!
So, if you are looking for a YA full of Japanese legends, give Koijiki a try, it’s quick, I never read something quite like it before and, I forgot to mention it before, but, it doesn’t have any of the YA tropes that I dislike. Yes, you heard/read me correctly, there are no love triangles or heroines who act before they think: here you’ll find female friendships, cool spirits, dragons, gods and a good dose of action.