I picked up Katana by Cole Gibsen from the library, because I wanted to change up my almost stale dietary supplement of reading the same ole books/genre's over, and over again. I have to admit to being a geek in that I adore books about samurais, swords (especially Katana's, nodachi, & naginata), Feudal Japan, and happily cave when a bit of Japanese history and culture are thrown together in a modern story.
Katana is the story of 17-year old skater-girl Rileigh Martin who, after thwarting a mugging on an elderly couple and then takes out the muggers responsible using moves that she had no clue she possessed, finds that she carries the soul of Senshi, a fifteenth century samurai warrior within. Rileigh/Senshi also has the unique ability to manipulate Ki energy to fend off attackers, and apparently was attached to the hip with Yoshido (now known as Kim Gimhae), who she died alongside of.
Gibsen questionably adds the token gay best friend in Quentin to the story. He's pretty much the stereotypical gay male character in that he works with hair and makeup, calls Rileigh "RiRi" constantly, and is hysterical most of the time. It could be said that Quentin was added to the story to broaden the population reach as to who would read this book, and of course, the drive for more diversity in books has been in the news a whole bunch recently.
The main negativity I had with this story is the fact that a Japanese character named Yoshido, is now called the Korean name of Kim Gimhae (Gimhae, Kim). If you know anything about Asian culture, you can not seriously put the two together without getting a whole culture mad at you. Koreans, and Japanese haven't exactly been best buds over the centuries, and they still don't completely trust the other today. I also found the idea that 4 out of 5 characters who were once Japanese samarai, were later reincarnated into White bodies. This, my friends, is why I roll my eyes when people start complaining about diversity in books. Who's fault is it?
The topic of reincarnation has always been an interest to me. We believe in what we believe. We either believe there is a God, or we don't. We either believe there is a heaven and hell, or don't. I'm not going to preach one way or the other. I would love to believe that when we die, our souls are able to be reincarnated into a new body which would give us near immortality, and not just fade away into the cosmos to burn out and fade away. Personally, I would love to awaken one day and find out that I was connected to a historical figure of the past. Especially a strong female figure who wasn't constrained by the times she lived in.
I liked the flashbacks to 15th century Japan, the addition of samurais Branden, Drew and Michelle as secondary characters who all knew Senshi and have been searching for her for years, as well as the lunatic fringe villain who has also been looking for Senshi but for his own reasons which leads me to speculate that we haven't seen the last of him yet. I could take or leave the idea of soul mates, and truly believe Gibsen hasn't shown all her cards yet on that front.
So, yes, I shall be requesting the second novel called Senshi from my library, since I already have the finale Shinobi, on my Kindle. I am hoping that Rileigh steps up as a heroine, and just doesn't sit back and allow others to dictate the way her life from here on out is going to be like.
Author - Cole Gibsen
Title - Katana (Katana # 1)
Published by Flux
Released: March 8, 2012
Format: Library book 375 pages