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Naruto: Sakura's Story Paperback – May 3, 2016
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About the Author
Masashi Kishimoto made his debut in Weekly Shonen Jump in 1999 with Naruto, which became a big hit with both boys and girls. Kishimoto added a modern flavour to the ancient world of Japanese ninja to make Naruto one of the most popular series in Japan.
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The story revolves around Sakura (of course) and Sasuke. A mysterious figure who has Sasuke's appearance and chakra has been seen committing criminal, violent acts in various locations, oh no!: cue the Konoha "Sasuke anti-defamation" squad! You get the idea. Although, I really give this author credit in having the plot revolve around Sasuke and not have him actually feature prominently, and it was refreshing to have a Naruto story starring a female protagonist who isn't rescued by either Naruto or Sasuke - both who have been basically granted a "god power" status at this point in the series. Unlike in "Naruto: the Last", while Sakura is conflicted emotionally about her relationship (or lack of) with Sasuke just like Hinata was about Naruto, Sakura actually maturely works through her funk and gets it together in order to successfully resolve her situation. The story is from Sakura's point of view and I think it was a positive that it stayed with her throughout instead of trying to also dabble in Sasuke-ness.
Also, one subject that has sorely deserved attention throughout the entire bleeping series was finally, finally addressed in this book: how traumatizing being a ninja, and living in a war-torn, violent world can be for children mentally. Sakura is the first medical-nin ever to suggest and implement a mental health center for children. Ya, know, for kids who have been, say, messed up by the mass slaughter of his family at the hands of his idolized brother (Sasuke), or forcibly had to murder his teammate for a mission after losing his other teammate recently in a gory rockslide (Kakashi), or been implanted with a giant Chakra monster at birth and rejected emotionally and physically by everyone and then told that his mother hated him all along (Gaara)...etc. etc. I'm glad someone finally decided to write a story that at least partly admits that maaaybe some of the strife in the ninja world could have been avoided if they'd actually tried to counsel and treat war/ninja skirmish victims instead of just leaving them to tough it out. This alone makes "Sakura's Story" my favorite of these novelizations.
Lastly, the fights were depicted in greater detail and didn't make any of the protagonists seem crippled power-wise. The worst part about the fights in Kakashi's Story was that the author had to make Kakashi a bit of a chump so the character who was supposed to save the day in accordance with the plot would be more convincing. Here, Sakura is perfectly fine and uses her skills well, as do her comrades. The author took the time to really describe the action, and clearly wanted to faithfully use each character's known jutsus.
There were a couple of typos where the translator obviously attributed dialog to the wrong character (i.e. 2 characters are talking, suddenly the same character talks twice in a row). Other than that, a very enjoyable quick read.
From this point on there will be spoilers, I tried my best to describe the story with out spoilers, however I could not write a review with out some spoilers so none the less [Spoiler Warning Below]
Sakura has developed a new medical unit focusing on the mental health of the children affected by the conflict in the ninja world, as she works with her unit, and her best friend, Ino, they work to improve the mental health of the children of Konoha. However in the back ground. Unusual things have been happening, as senior members of the Land of Fire's council have been attacked, at first glance it appeared to be nothing more than a prank, however the Rokudiame Hokage, The Copy Ninja Hatake Kakashi of the Sharingan, has a hunch and sends his ANBU units to investigate, as well as his former student, and former Root Division ANBU member Sai. As Sai investigates, he discovers that there is more going on, and informs the Sixth. With the new information presented to him, Kakashi assembles a new team and assigns them a top secret mission beyond what was assigned to his ANBU unit, to investigate the attacks and their suspects, discover the motive behind it, and to handle all parties involved to bring this case to an end!