Review: Katana by Cole Gibsen
You know, I think the Japanese are cool. They have ninjas and samurai and awesome weapons that look more like pieces of art, but that can behead a person with a single swoop. I know they like tea, and that they wear funny white socks in flip flops. They are completely awesome with technology, and are very polite. With that knowledge of Japanese culture I started Katana. A girl that discovers she was a samurai in a previous life? Hell yes!
I have seen some reviewers complaining that the Japanese part of the book wasn’t well researched, and didn’t give a correct view of how everything worked over there five hundred years ago. I can’t be the judge of the historical accuracy of the things happening in Katana. Maybe they’re right, maybe they’re not. But I think you shouldn’t look at Katana as a groundbreaking novel about Japanese culture, but more of a fun young-adult book that features kick-ass fights with sword-wearing bad guys.
That’s probably the best way to describe Katana: fun. It’s really a cute novel, in my opinion. Yes, it does fall back into some clichés. There is an overly theatrical gay best friend. The main character Rileigh gets warned by a mysterious hot guy that “She is in great danger!”. I didn’t have a problem with any of those, actually. I laughed at the gay friends jokes. I wondered who the mysterious hot guy was. I was engaged by the story from the first chapter, and I didn’t mind the slight clichés at all.
Even though I had a lot of fun reading Katana, there are some things that bothered me. My main problem was with said mysterious hot guy. For some reason he turned from “hot asian guy” into “elderly kung-fu master” in my mind. He even had the braided moustache and the ponytail. I’m not sure what went wrong; the way he talked said more “ancient” than “teenager” for me. Because of that, the whole story got a little bit of an ick-factor that was slightly disturbing.
I liked that Rileigh didn’t turn into the most important girl in the world. Even though she gets some pretty bad-ass fighting skills, there are still people bigger and stronger than her. The fighting scenes were the strongest points in the book in my opinion. I wished that there were more of them.
If you’re looking for a fun young-adult novel from a female point of view with some Japanese themes, I would certainly recommend Katana. It’s a pretty light novel that keeps you entertained. I’m keeping this one for a rainy day. There’s nothing like katana to cheer you up.
While worrying that she’s going crazy (always a reputation ruiner), Rileigh gets a visit from Kim, a handsome martial arts instructor, who tells Rileigh she’s harboring the spirit of a five-hundred-year-old samurai warrior.
Relentlessly attacked by ninjas, Rileigh has no choice but to master the katana–a deadly Japanese sword that’s also the key to her past. As the spirit grows stronger and her feelings for Kim intensify, Rileigh is torn between continuing as the girl she’s always been and embracing the warrior inside her.
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