Not sure quite what to make of this book by John Paul Catton. Whilst on the one hand it is an extremely knowledgeable and well-researched work into ancient Japanese history and mythology, on the other, the huge YA aspect of this book overpowers it in many ways. Targeted very firmly at a teenage audience, I feel that the characters are too adolescent to appeal to anybody much older. Yet, at the same time, Catton is clearly a mature author with an in-depth understanding of Japan, presumably having lived there for many years and studied its culture with relish.
This is a very good writer, no doubt, with great narrative and timing, who takes great pride and pleasure in sharing what he has learnt, as well he should, and in this respect “Voice of the Sword” is better than your average YA fantasy adventure. His writing runs at an exhilirating pace, and is accompanied by exciting dialogue from its teenage cast of heroes. However, although entertaining, the book may not appeal to a more adult reader, as it bowls from one action scenario to the next, in the manner more of an adventure cartoon series for older children, or manga. As for other readers, not so avid, it may go a little over the head – the book does feel long and a touch convoluted. It is very visual, and requires a fair amount of concentration to keep track of events. So, whilst I would recommend this book highly to that particular audience, and those who love an action-oriented look at myth and history, I would also advise that they lock themselves away without distraction to read it successfully. The Japanese names and historical characters can be a lot to take in, as well; I’ll have to be honest and say that I was a little lost for much of it. Still, when the ancient Japanese creatures do make their appearance, the fusion with the supernatural is all good fun for the reader, and similarly to a Marvel movie perhaps, don’t expect real involvement in the story, just switch off and enjoy the special effects. There is an unexpected sci-fi element in this book, early on, which caught me a little off-guard and perhaps embedded a train of confusion for the whole experience; I’m not sure what these futuristic scenes brought to the book, and feel it would probably have been improved without them, though I suspect in this respect Catton was trying to build a cast of interesting heroes for his series, which he has.
There are one or two typos which have been missed, and some of the punctuation could probably be revised, but otherwise a well-written, accomplished, polished and entertaining book. If one I would recommend primarily for teenage fans of action-adventure, cartoon-style serials, rather than those who wish to benefit from Catton’s admirable historical knowledge in a more serious way.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: john-paul-catton japanese mythology young-adult sci-fi historical