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Empress of All Seasons Kindle Edition
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|Length: 385 pages||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled||Page Flip: Enabled|
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|Age Level: 12 - 18||Grade Level: 7 - 12|
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About the Author
- File size : 5542 KB
- Publication date : November 6, 2018
- Publisher : HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (November 6, 2018)
- Word Wise : Not Enabled
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B07898L4Z1
- Print length : 385 pages
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #409,588 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The world-building was rich and fun. Some of it was based directly off Japanese folklore, particularly the yokai. In this world, yokai and humans were created, but Sugita, a god, made one human in his image and deemed him to be emperor. In the present time, the emperor hates yokai because he blames one for his wife's death, and enslaves them all with a collar that suppresses their power. The collars were created by the prince, one of our POV characters, who regrets how they were used. According to the myths of the world, the first emperor found his wife when she failed to be killed by the elements, and thus the seasonal rooms were created at the palace, each with its own beauties and dangers.
Mari, the main character and a yokai, is the most engaging of the POVs, in my opinion. We see her life before the contest, giving us a good idea of her motivation in winning the contest, even though she knows nothing about the prince and doesn't *really* want to marry him. Her type of yokai, Animal Wives, marry human men and steal their fortunes. They also hope to get pregnant with a girl, to become the next generation of Animal Wives (boy babies are sent down the river for a fate that is never clarified in the book). The Animal Wives have deemed Mari too ugly to find a husband the normal way, so her mother trained her to win her way to Empress of All Seasons.
What is intriguing is that both of the male POVs are introduced as lovers, not fighters. Akira knows nothing of battle, and probably has the most interesting family history and powers. Taro is the prince, trained to fight, but preferring to invent. Taro also has no intention of ruling and plans to escape (until he meets Mari, of course) before the contest. Yet during the course of the book, they change positions. Taro and Akira both take on the warrior role, wanting to fight more than Mari ever wanted to.
One of my biggest complaints about the book, and probably the main thing that kept it from being 5 stars, is the dramatic emotional and personality shifts the characters take on, often with very little catalyst. Taro's instalove is probably the most dramatic I've ever seen, and I'm not sure when Mari falls in love with him, only she's suddenly saying she did. Taro also swings wildly in the other direction, hating Mari and all yokai based on minimal evidence that she is responsible for his dad's death (Taro doesn't seem to have much affection for his dad, either, making the swing feel even more dramatic) Akira barely gets any training at all, and he goes from lover to ultra-warrior.
I also wish there had a little bit more time spent in each of the rooms, so that we could really feel the season of them. Each room dramatically cut down the number of contestants, but it didn't seem to matter since we only got to know 4 of them at all. The pacing of the novel was brisk, which made it a thrilling read, but it also meant that we had a bad sense of how long anything was taking and felt a little shorted on such things as how long the contest lasted or how long Akira was in training. I don't know if I would have asked for this to be a multiple series book (it could have easily been cut from the point where the season rooms were over and left the aftermath of the contest for a 2nd book), but there was certainly enough material that was sped through that could have made it two books. On the other hand, I appreciate a standalone YA fantasy! And the end might have felt rushed for some, but I felt the mythological way it was presented was kind of perfect for the story.
One final thing that I really liked about the novel was the development of women taking on their own power. Mari and other characters go from feeling like they needed male characters to feel complete (never mind that that feeling is a little rushed for Mari) to realizing that they have their own strengths and don't need those men after all.
Overall, I enjoyed this book, despite a few quibbles.
Recommended for fans of: Japanese folklore and mythology, The Selection and/or Hunger Games, weather magic, standalone fantasy novels, instalove, multiple POVs, brisk pacing, mechanical birds
Pacing- fast paced and on point. Kept me interested fron start to finish. A certain plot twist turned me off about 75% through but otherwise great.
World building- vivid and intricate world building. I felt like I was right there with the characters. I loved the sprinkling of Japanese but I have a deep undying love for all things Japan.
Characters- I loved the main character Mari in this story. Her character changes so much over time which makes her fun to watch. She's kind but strong and independent. I loved Akira's Akira's character arc although he annyoed me at times. I wasn't a huge fan of Taro's character arc. I thought he had more potential so that disappointed me.
Overall, I loved this story and hope to read more from this author. Great if you want a fast paced YA fantasy with plenty of Japanese mythology and nods to Japanese culture.
The yokai are discriminated against by the emperor and are forced to be registered and wear a collar that keep their abilities in check which gave the story a dystopian vibe. The yokai are also forbidden from competing for the prince's hand in the all seasons competition. All the competitors have to survive in 4 different rooms each with one of the seasons in it.
Mari, appearing perfectly human competes for the prince's hand. She is able to remain unregistered as a yokai because she lives in a remote area of the mountains.
This book also has myths placed into the book to give you a feel for the culture and some of the background on why they have this competition and how humans the the yokai were created. It was a nice touch and made the story more distinct in its Asian hues.
This book did a very good job world building and it did it without dumping all the information on you at once. It slowly introduced different aspects of the story so I never felt overwhelmed. My biggest complaint about this aspect is sometimes they would be discussing something and I would have to go back and reread it to make sure I didn't miss anything only to find out they tell you several paragraphs further down what they were alluding to. This made the book a little hard to follow at the beginning.
This had many feminist aspects to it. Most of the men in this story were weaker than Mari and did not want a large amount of responsibility. But this also was at the beginning of the book and left plenty of room for character development. It was also feminist in that Mari had to give up being herself for the love interest and she lost a giant chunk of who she was by being in love. This sent a message that she was better off not being in love because she wouldn't be allowed to be who she really was.
I had a hot and cold relationship with Taro, I started out feeling very indifferent to him and then I started to like him but by the end I went back to indifference. I loved Mari and Akira and there were a few supporting characters I also loved.
Overall this book was very enjoyable and I absolutely loved the culture and the setting. It was unique and interesting.