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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Jet Black and the Ninja Wind by Leza Lowitz & Shogo Oketani

Young Adult, Action, Adventure
Publication.Date  October 29th 2013
Published By:  Tuttle Publishing
AuthorLeza Lowitz | Shogo Oketani

Jet Black and the Ninja Wind on Goodreads
My review copy:Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Seventeen-year-old Jet Black is a ninja. There's only one problem--she doesn't know it. Others do, however, and they're scheming to capture her and uncover her secrets. When her mother dies, Jet knows only that she must go to Japan to protect a family treasure hidden in her ancestral land. She's terrified, but if Jet won't fight to protect her world, who will? Stalked by bounty hunters and desperately in love with the man who's been sent to kill her, Jet must be strong enough to protect the treasure, preserve an ancient culture, and save a sacred mountain from destruction. In Jet Black and the Ninja Wind, multiple award-winning author, poet, and translator team Leza Lowitz and Shogo Oketani make their first foray into young adult fiction with a compulsively readable tale whose teenage heroine must discover if she can put the blade above the heart--or die trying.

There were so many questions Jet longed to ask, so many her mother would never answer.
When I grow up, can I be like the brave girl who freed her people? Jet had always asked her mother as the story ended.
Of course you can, her mother had always replied. Because you already are.
All those times I made  you go up the mountains, Satoko had said, frail and struggling to draw enough breath to speak - all that hard training, you will soon understand why I made you do it. I hope you'll forgive me. 

      As brisk as it is flavorful and rich in historical and cultural (even multi-cultural!) detail, Jet Black and the Ninja Wind is much more than just a highly addictive and visually dazzling action fantasy. It's also a meaningful tale about honoring your heritage and fighting for what's right, challenging your fears and falling in love. Most of all, it's a journey to self-discovery - powerful, memorable and inspiring. This page-turner of a book is hands down the best YA adventure I've read in the past couple years. A novel not to be missed! I am so excited to have discovered this gem of a book, I'll be raving about it for a very long time. 

     Lowitz and Oketani write with amazing clarity, beauty and conviction, making Jet Black an unputdownable treat. The story is fast-paced and epic, but it's also emotional and reflective, offering the reader both something fun and something to ponder and reflect upon. It's also incredibly uplifting, exciting and loaded with positive energy, and I loved how good it made me feel. The descriptions of Japan and American southwest are all gorgeously evocative and mesmerizing, the action parts (martial arts!) - sweeping, almost cinematic. And the dialogues are equally awesome - captivating, dramatic and full of sparkling chemistry

     Filled with meaningful themes and life lessons, this book is perfect for young readers and adults alike. I honestly can't imagine anyone disliking this story. Fans of historical settings and vibrant cultural backdrops (Japanese and Native culture in particular), will be thrilled to discover this one. All the cross-cultural references and historical accuracy make this book even more interesting to read. And there's even a glossary of Japanese terms and concepts at the end of the book, and a great area map of Japan at the beginning. 

     All the characters are great, but it's the lead heroine who really shines. Jet is such a fantastic character! I loved following her adventures and seeing her morph into this strong, kickass ninja-girl (or kunoichi, to be more accurate). As the story progresses, she learns more about herself, her family and her heritage, and she becomes stronger and wiser with every page. There's still a lot for her to discover, not all her questions are answered in the first book, and it only makes me that much more excited for the sequel. I can't wait to find out where the story will take her next! 

     Action, mystery, magic, history, culture, romance and intrigue - Jet Black and the Ninja Wind has it all! If you're looking for a book to completely sweep you off your feet and transport you to a land of mysticism and heroism, this is the book for you. I highly recommend reading this one!

About the authors:

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Award-winning multi-genre writer Leza Lowitz has published more than seventeen books, including the Amazon best-selling title, Yoga Poems. Her numerous awards include the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Poetry Award, a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award, grants from the NEA and NEH, and the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature from Columbia University. Her writing has appeared in the Huffington Post, Shambhala Sun, Harpers, Best Buddhist Writing,the New York Times online, and on NPR's "The Sound of Writing."

Shogo Oketani is a martial artist, editor, translator and author of the critically acclaimed middle grade novel J-Boys: Kazuo's World, Tokyo 1965. Together with Lowitz, he was honored with the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature from Columbia University. Lowitz and Oketani live in Japan with their young son.
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