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Beautiful half-asian female assassin? Check. Shurikens, ninjas, yakuza? Check. Ancient secret society bent on revenge? Check. All the familiar elements are there in the preview blurb--leading me to believe this book would be yet another tiresome example of the formulaic, tv and film-inspired writing so common nowadays. I was completely wrong. This writer, Okamoto, deftly avoids the usual pitfalls that bedevil the action genre and has created something original, exciting, and totally unexpected. The whole thing is written in verse, like an epic poem, without indentations. Sounds pretentious, but it works beautifully, because the writer has the stuff to pull it off. Okamoto's style is rhythmic, lyrical, full of color and sound--the antithesis of the cookie-cutter bestseller. There are wonderfully rendered combat sequences, a nifty tantric sex-kill technique, some keenly observed insights into the human condition, a more-than-passing familiarity with Japanese martial culture and philosophy. What's not to love? The number of quality martial arts action novels has always been discouragingly small. This is easily the best I've read in years.
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