E-book, 458 Pages
Adult/ Fantasy/ Cyperpunk
By: J.C. Kang
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟 1/2
Disclaimer: I read this one as a judge for SPFBO 7 but the rating and review reflects personal opinions only.
I did not know what cultivation novels were prior to reading this one so here is a little something I found online about it: Cultivation (variously referred to in Chinese as xiūliàn [修炼], xiūzhēn [修真], xiūxíng [修行], and xiūxiān [修仙]) is a Taoist concept by which humans can extend their lifespan and gain supernatural powers through practicing a set of martial and mystical arts involving meditation and the cultivation of Qi. In many novels, the ultimate goal of cultivation is to become an immortal and attain godhood. The “Cultivating Method” could comprise martial arts, Buddhism, or Taoism depending on the doctrine of different religions.
There is a difference between this kind of stories and progression stories such as the very successful Cradle series although they do have a lot in common. I am always looking for fresh new ideas and so I was happy to try this one.
The story follows three main protagonists: Master Ryusuke, Kentano and Aya. The characters are very different but the circumstances have them working together. Ryusuke has come from another dimension with an important mission that has universal implications. Aya is the world’s smartest person and she’s a hacker who has Cystic Fibrosis. Kentano is a cleaner who is a purebread. Their stories come together quickly and they try to protect the world from other dangers that also came from Ryusuke’s dimension.
I liked the prose, it needs some concentration but it I wouldn’t say it is hard to follow. The characters do have different voices and they are distinct and we are moving consistently between the three main POVs. The female depiction kind of was a turn off for me as it is a bit objectifying of women which we commonly see in fantasy stories by white men and I thought this would be different.
The world-building is good, I enjoyed the magical system and its integration within the advanced technologies in that dimension. However, I think too much of a good thing may not necessarily be a good thing and that’s how I felt about the world and magic here, it kept getting more complex to the point that I kind of lost interest with all the illustrations and explanations involved. I thought the fight scenes were pretty damn cool specially at the beginning and I think that less complexity and just more explanation of the system was needed.
Summary: I think it is a refreshing kind of story that I am not used to which is always a good thing and a change from the tropes we find in western fantasy. The writing and characters were good but I think more focus should have been put into the writing and world-building. I am happy I got to discover a new genre with this book though!