Book Review: Katana

Book Review: KatanaKatana by Cole Gibsen
Series: Katana #1
Published by Flux Books on March 8th 2012
Pages: 375

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.

A young girl who mysteriously turns kick-ass and has no idea where these powers come from. Some Japanese culture interwoven. Sign me up!
Katana was one of those books that you want to read SO BADLY, but when you get into the first pages, you are so afraid that some random element is going cause this book to be a letdown.
Rileigh is your, I guess, stereotypical girl. Girly… loves shopping… you get the point. Gibsen, in the first pages of Katana, goes a little overboard (in my opinion) trying to make Rileigh a girl's girl. So much so that it was a little disheartening. I knew the plot going into Katana, I knew what the promises were. But how was this Rileigh going to make that transformation into the kick-ass warrior that I was promised in the blurb? That was a question that bothered me for much of the beginning of the book.
Katana is told through essentially by the same POV, but at different historical points: Rileigh, in the present time and Senshi, in Feudal Japan. Rileigh and I, we meshed well enough. Honestly, I am not a girly girl, but I found myself liking her character despite any differences. Senshi, now this is a character that I wanted to know more and more about. Katana is well-written in trying to mesh these two periods together, interweaving threads, but I really wish I could have had more of the Japanese culture.
Speaking of things I wish I could have had more of… Katana needed more chemistry. The big selling point of Katana was that these characters in the present carry the souls of those from the past. Senshi, being reborn as Rileigh, was the great love of the (now) Kim. Gibsen really trys to sell readers on this romance… but the chemistry that I needed was sorely lacking. Kim wants Rileigh, yet Rileigh, despite herself, really isn't sure how she feels. The constant back and forth of these characters was enough to give me whiplash.
Final Verdict:
Katana is a flip-flop type read. One moment, I love this or that element. The next, I cannot stop thinking about what I wish had been included that wasn't. I am just so torn! But, there may be light at the end of the tunnel… with Katana's sequel. So right now, I am still holding out hope for this series.
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