Author: Cole Gibsen
Genre: YA Fiction, Historical, Reincarnation
Rating: 5 Stars
Description/Synopsis: Skater girl or supernatural samurai? Rileigh Martin wants to believe that adrenaline gave her the strength to fend off three muggers in the mall parking lot. But adrenaline doesn't explain the voice in her head giving her battle tips and 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.
WARNING - SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT - REVIEW BELOW
I very nearly gave this book a 4-star review. In fact, I pondered over it quite a while before I settled on 5 stars. Why? Because there is so much of this story that was screaming "mary sue" at me when the story started. Here's this blonde haired, blue eyed girl who suddenly finds out she has ninja (excuse me, samurai) super-skills even though she's never taken a fighting class in her life... it's a walking talking example of what happens when you take an anime fangirl and give them a pen.
That being said, I'm still giving it five stars. The author managed to take something that should have been horribly mary sue and made it into an action-packed, captivating story. By the end of the book I could have cared less what mary sue qualities the book came with, it was awesome-sauce on a stick.
Now, I will agree that the characters (read: Rileigh and her ridiculous name) were a bit juvenile - but I didn't find it as annoying as I'd expected. This is a YA fiction after all, and I think the author did a decent job of making her characters fit the genre. They sounded like teenagers - take that however you will. I probably wouldn't recommend this book for a serious adult reader... but if you enjoy youthful imaginative stories or you're a YA yourself, then you'll probably love this story.
I think my favorite part about this whole book was Kim and Rileigh's relationship. Don't worry, there were no inappropriate scenes for the younger audience, but I can definitely say that their relationship was bordering on steamy. I had no problem imagining the pull of attraction between these two. I also really appreciated the friendships throughout this book - they seemed genuine.
I even liked the bad-guy (I won't spoil who he is) despite his betrayal. In fact, the only character I didn't particularly care for was the doctor. What a pansy... and it's creepy that he was dating her mom. It gave me the heebie jeebies just like it gave Rileigh the heebie jeebies. I could write more, but I think you get the gist: I really liked the book. It was engaging, fast-paced, and well written. Plus, I don't want to have to spell Rileigh's name ever again. For the love of all that is good in the written-worlds... don't name your characters ridiculously-spelled alternatives. Riley would have been okay.