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Blood Ninja Hardcover – December 1, 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Blood Ninja Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up—Taro wants to be a samurai, but as this story opens, ninjas attack his house and decapitate his father, and he is run through with a ninja sword. All is not lost—he is saved by a good ninja who had to bite him and turn him vampire. Yes, that's right; all the ninjas are vampires. This addition to the dead and undead outpouring is cleverly set in the 16th century at the height of the warring daimyos of the Tokugawa period in Japan. The author makes a good argument for the logic of ninjas being vampires—they only come out at night, they move with stealthlike speed, and they seem to be invincible. In this case, they are vital in determining who will be eventual Shogun as well. Taro and his friend Haro are taken on an adventure with the good ninja, Shusaku, where they learn of and must thwart a plot to have Taro killed because of his true identity. The female characters take a backseat to the nonstop action, and the gruesome details of all the killings and the cool weaponry will mark this as a great "guy book" to counter all the female frenzy around Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" series (Little, Brown).—Jake Pettit, Thompson Valley High School, Loveland, CO
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From Booklist

Lake deftly blends sixteenth-century Japanese samurai history with vampire mythology to concoct a gory and fast-paced adventure that will grab readers. Overwhelming interest in manga often extends to interest in Japanese history, and Lake’s focus on swordplay will carry along those who don’t relish the historical element. Teenage Taro, a misfit among the peasants of his fishing village, finds himself pursued by ninja mysteriously intent on killing him; is saved by a “good” ninja, who turns him into a vampire; and becomes a ninja himself. There’s plenty of decapitation and seppuku, light romance, and unsuspected royal lineage, but the main premise—that all ninjas are vampires—drives the story and works surprisingly well. Plucky female characters with martial-arts skills may not be historically accurate but are lots of fun. Lake has clearly studied Japanese history and mythology, and he offers a tangible appreciation of the culture. The cliff-hanger ending will leave readers clamoring for a sequel. Grades 7-11. --Debbie Carton
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 870L (What's this?)
  • Series: Blood Ninja
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (December 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416986278
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416986270
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,566,452 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

My name's Nick and I write books for younger readers. My latest, BLOOD NINJA, is about ninjas who are also vampires - because the only thing more awesome than a ninja is a vampire ninja.

I like all the things you like, and I hate all the things you hate. I swear.

I live in a picture-postcard village in Oxfordshire, protected by trip-wires, boobytraps and a fat, lazy tomcat. Life in a picture-postcard village is very nice, but it's a bit two-dimensional.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I got this book for my 9th grade son, who enjoys YA Fantasy. He loved it! He read it in 2 days and asked for a sequel. He especially enjoyed the Japanese heritage stuff: Feudal Japan, ninjas, samurai, martial arts, etc. He was so interested in it that I gave him my copy of Shogun - which he is reading now. He likes (most) vampire stories and mythology, but he isn't obsessed with it and the conceit that all ninjas are vampires was interesting to him (and added to the gore - always a plus for teenage boys), but it wasn't the main draw. The ninja warrior stuff as well as the classic YA Adventure framework of 'regular' boy with a secret identity becoming 'special' are what captured and held my son's interest. He rates it 5 stars.

Since I got this book from Vine, I felt I needed to read it myself, to be able to give a fair review. So I read it after my son. It is a classic YA tale: Humble fisherboy stumbles into a previously unknown world and his own secret past, and becomes a ninja warrior. Even within that (to me) trite context though, I enjoyed the story. It's well paced and well written, and (as a lover of Shogun and similar) I really loved the feudal Japan references and details. It was pretty bloody, and a little predictable, so if it were an adult book I would give it probably 4 stars from my own perspective. But it's not marketed to me, so I give it what the target audience felt it merited - 5 stars.

BOTTOM LINE: Very appealing to teenaged boys, lots of interesting Japanese historical details, and not a bad read even for a middle-aged mom like me.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I got this book through the Amazon Vine program. I like vampires and ninjas so I thought it would be an interesting read. I was a little worried (based on the title and the cover) that this book would be too corny for me or a bit over the top. It was neither of those. It was very well-done and, if anything, a bit too devoid of any humor. It is also not a stand-alone book, which I didn't know.

Taro is a fisherman's son. At least that is what he is raised to believe. He is in for a rude surprise when a group of ninjas descend on his house and murder his father. One of the ninjas, Shusaku, is different though and tries to save Taro. Shusaku fails as Taro is run-through with a sword. Suddenly Taro must make a choice as his life ebbs from the wound in his stomach. Will he let Shusaku turn him into a vampire and "live" or will he die? He chooses to "live" and suddenly Taro, his best friend Hiro, and Shusaku are off on a journey that will make Taro question everything he knows about the world and himself.

There was a lot I liked about this book. The amount of Japanese history dwelling within the pages of this story is amazing. Lake really did his research and gives great detail on various aspects of Japanese history. It was fascinating to read about ninjas in the context of actual Japanese history. I am not sure how accurate all the historical details are (it would have been nice for the author to include an afterward addressing this) but they are well thought-out and seem to be well researched. The other thing I really liked about this book was the moral struggles Taro was forced to face and question. Taro comes from a world where Lord Oda is god and samurai are the noblest men he knows, ninjas are to be despised as sneaks.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Blood Ninja brings the Japanese myths to life by combining them with Vampire lore. The book follows the story of young Taro, a poor boy from a fishing village, who doesn't quite seem to fit in...until the worst happens and he becomes a vampire ninja samurai. The author has fun by questioning the goals and ideals of the samurai culture and the Shogun period of history. For me as an adult, the focus of the book was not as appealing as a more historical and non-vampire examination of the period would have been. From the perspective of the young adults who this book is intended for...it's hard to say. Some will no doubt be pleased by the abilities and limitations that being a vampire brings to our young hero, others will perhaps be disgusted by the need for the hero ninja to drink blood on a regular basis. I do think that young adults will be interested in the examination of morality the author provides, ie. where should a ninja's loyalties really lie...and how do you go about examining the motives and methods of your boss? I think for the book to be truly effective with young adults it should have a bit more humor and describe the violence in a slightly more comic book style. I give it four stars for it's plot, and its examination of complicated political realities. I cannot give it five because I feel it slightly misses it's best audience due to a lack of humor.
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Format: Hardcover
By glancing at the cover, I'm sure you immediately thought the unthinkable had happened. I mean, there's already a book out about vampire pirates ("Vampirates"), so why not?

This is different.

If you like Japanese history - if you like accurate descriptions of feudal Japanese warriors - if you like a story that has twists...then this is the book for you.

The book starts out with Taro, a boy who dreams of one day breaking free of his peasant life and becoming a noble samurai under Lord Oda Nobunaga. Early in life, Taro's courageous nature and his uncanny archery skills are noticed by his fellow villagers. Rumors are whispered that Taro might be part spirit - rumors that Taro and his best friend Hiro laugh off. The idea that Taro is part-spirit seems as ridiculous and unfounded as the rumors of the local kyuuketsuki - a mythical, deadly demon who hunts humans for prey.

In one terrible night, Taro's beliefs are all swept away and he is forced into a new life of shadows and stealth. Becoming a ninja was the last thing Taro had wanted - but it is ultimately the only thing that will save himself and his friends.

Pros:

This book really brought Japan to life. It was as if I was stepping into the scenes and walking through the ornate gardens, smelling the salty sea air, feeling the rough rocky road beneath my feet. The descriptions alone would make the book a worthy purchase.

Taro, Hiro and Shusaku are really well-developed characters - in fact, all the characters are very deep. Nick Lake is brilliant in this respect: every character feels real and has real passions and fears. The evil Kira is the perfect bad guy: a man who seems unstoppable, but allows his neurotic fears to draw attention to weak points.
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