Review - The Sword of Kuromori - Jason Rohan

The Sword of KuromoriTitle: The Sword of Kuromori
Series: Not yet specified.
Author: Jason Rohan
Genre: Middle-Grade, Fantasy
Publication: May 8th 2014, Egmont UK
Pages: 336 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Penguin Books SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 2/5 Cupcakes!
Kenny Blackwood arrives in Tokyo to spend the summer with his father and is stunned to discover a destiny he had never dreamed of when he finds himself in the middle of a hidden war that is about to explode. Racing against an impossible deadline, Kenny must find the fabled Sword of Heaven and use it to prevent the disaster. But a host of terrifying monsters is out to destroy him, and success will come at a price. With clever, fearless, sarcastic Kiyomi at his side, Kenny must negotiate the worlds of modern and mythic Japan to find the lost sword, before it's too late.
When I received The Sword of Kuromori to review, I was excited. It sounded like a Percy Jackson novel but from a Japanese perspective. I was in the mood for fantasy and action and this novel sounded like the perfect choice. Although it started out well, it soon deteriorated and I was left feeling bored and detached from the story. It's a pity as it started out promising.

The Sword of Kuromori is about fifteen year old Kenneth "Kenny" Blackwood who is being sent from his grandfather to spend the summer in Japan with his estranged father. However, when Kenny arrives in Japan, strange things seem to be fired at him in all directions. He's seeing vampires and monsters and all sorts of nightmarish creatures that shouldn't exist. Kenny learns that he is part of an ancient prophecy, one that needs to be fulfilled or 50 million innocent people could die. However, as the prophecy states, even if he saves the people, someone he loves will die.

The Sword of Kuromori sounds really good. It has a lot of things that I like in a book, prophecies and missions with impossible deadlines, travelling, monster-butt was the perfect opportunity for the author to deliver a fantastic novel, however, I found myself severely disappointed.

I'll start off with the characters. I didn't particularly love any of the characters, the only one really being Kiyomi and Poyo. Kenny was quite a boring character and I just never found myself quite warming up towards him. He was immature and acted childish and although the author tried to make him more likeable by giving him a sensitive-side, I wasn't particularly convinced.

Like I said, I liked Kiyomi. She was very strong-willed and determined, opinionated and unafraid to voice her thoughts. I did, however, find that she would act too temperamental and flounce off too often and that also came across as childish.

The character I really loved was Poyo, the overweight Japanese raccoon dog, he was adorable and had a cute personality!

The main ones are Kenny and Kiyomi, who are supposed to be fifteen years old but act like they're 10. Everything they did seemed juvenile and immature and that is not how fifteen year olds act. Kenny once randomly kissed Kiyomi (who slapped him afterwards) and then later when Kiyomi touched his hand and apologised, he said "Don't go all mushy on me" or something along those lines. He kissed her and then basically swatted her away later when she touched his hands - it didn't add up. Their personalities were very inconsistent and either were age-appropriate or much younger than that.

There were other main characters, but to be completely honest, I really didn't care for them and I've forgotten most of their names. At the end, one of the characters died and then was revived due to the other character sacrificing himself and it was supposed to be an emotional scene but it didn't break my heart. I just felt sorry for the two characters briefly but the book wasn't excellent enough to leave a lasting impression on me.

The enemies in this book were about as evil as a puppy. The "bad guy" surrendered and became their friend, the other "bad guy" was a harmless dragon who was being mind-controlled by this other guy whose name I can't remember, that dragon did NOT DESERVE TO DIE. He was innocent! The other "enemies" were these demon/monster things that died so quickly and who Kenny with NO TRAINING fought so easily that it was so completely ridiculous.

The plot, like I said, could've been good had the characters and the writing been great as well. I really have nothing bad to say about the plot, except that the ending was tied up so neatly and although there was a "tragic" scene, it didn't evoke strong emotions within me and it probably was intended to. The whole thing with the sword and Kenny and him being able to do all this stuff was so completely convenient that the story didn't seem authentic at all.

The main issue I have with this book is the writing. It was cliché, cheesy and it had a staccato way that it was written which made it feel as if the flow of the story was abruptly cut. Everything was shown and not told and it just didn't work for me. One of the cliché examples would be when Kenny faced one of the "enemies" and the enemy said "Now, hand it to me, and no one will get hurt." And Kenny replied "Over my dead body." Seriously. SERIOUSLY?! How many times have we heard that in a book/tv series/action movie before. It was just so ridiculous and made the book seem so cheesy.

One last thing I have a problem with is that there was swearing in this book and an attempted romance when it's actually a middle-grade novel. Authors, there is a time for romance and swearing, and there is a time not for romance and swearing. These kids were"fifteen" but they honestly acted like 10-12 year olds which was why the romance DIDN'T WORK. It was just weird and forced and not sweet at all. The swearing wasn't really bad words but because this is a middle-grade novel with characters who seem much younger, it shouldn't really have been used. I think the author wanted to throw in romance and some bad words because he thinks it will appeal to older kids as well as younger ones, but it didn't work. If Kenny and Kiyomi were just friends it would've made the book a whole lot better. Her swearing didn't make her seem all "hardcore and rough" but it just sounded like a little kid flinging around cuss words when they didn't really know what they meant. The author should've stuck to this being solely middle-grade without the YA elements introduced.

This book reminded me a lot of the Young Samurai series by Chris Bradford (I've only read the first one). The writing in The Way of the Warrior was fantastic although the plot lacked, whereas in The Sword of Kuromori the writing + characters lacked but the plot had potential to be good. I also get frustrated when I read these books in Japan because the constant use of Japanese words and having to check the glossary just gets to me.
The Sword of Kuromori had potential but the cliché, cheesy writing, the irritating characters and the harmless villains made the book tedious to read. I think children under the age of 13 will enjoy this, however, this book was a disappointment for me. 

I give it: 2/5 Cupcakes!