Synopsis: Rileigh Martin would love to believe that adrenaline had given her the uncanny courage and strength to fend off three muggers. But it doesn’t explain her dreams of 15th-century Japan, the incredible fighting skills she suddenly possesses, or the strange voice giving her battle tips and danger warnings.
While worrying that she’s going crazy (always a reputation ruiner), Rileigh gets a visit from Kim, a handsome martial arts instructor, who tells Rileigh she’s harboring the spirit of a five-hundred-year-old samurai warrior.
Relentlessly attacked by ninjas, Rileigh has no choice but to master the katana–a deadly Japanese sword that’s also the key to her past. As the spirit grows stronger and her feelings for Kim intensify, Rileigh is torn between continuing as the girl she’s always been and embracing the warrior inside her.
The Cover: Great sense of what this novel is about without reading the synopsis. A blonde chick with swords, the cherry blossoms, and the slashes through the title are enough to know Japan has something to do with the story.
The First Line: “I stepped outside the department store and felt something squish against my heel where concrete should have been.” This line serves as insight into the main character and I got the hint that she was a bit of a diva.
The Good: Rileigh kicks serious ass, whether she wants to or not. I enjoyed the shifts back into 15th century Japan and thought this was used perfectly. The reader gets a feel for the past without being overwhelmed by it. Gibsen could have easily fallen into overusing 15th century Japan to tell Rileigh’s story, but she avoided it with expertise. Rileigh’s a strong character and really reflects some of the struggles teenagers, and let’s face it a lot of adults, face in figuring out who they are.
Also, there are a lot of laugh out loud moments.
The Bad: The first chapter moved a little slow for me, but once Rileigh’s samurai spirit kicked in, the novel took off without looking back.
Recommendation: If you like strong female characters, this is a must read.