Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Plot Summary:
Taro lives in a small village near Shimahara Bay in the Kanto Province of Japan and he dreams that one day he will become a samurai.When he was younger, he rescued his best friend, Hiro, from a shark attack and his parents took Hiro in. Even at a young age, Taro has all of the qualities of a good warrior, strong and true. Although he spends most of his time hunting in the forest, life for Taro is pretty quiet. However, his father had fallen very ill and he knows the inevitable is bound to happen. One night, Taro and his mother, heard a noise in their home to find that Taro's father has been assassinated by ninja. Not knowing what's going on, or what to do, Taro foolishly tries to take revenge and fight until he is stopped by another ninja named Shusaku. What Taro doesn't realize is that Shusaku is more than a ninja--he is a Kyuuketsuki--a vampire. Furthermore, this ninja vampire's weapon bears the same symbol as Taro's bow (three hollylock leaves in a circle). In order to flee the assassins, Shusaku makes a hasty decision and Taro is changed forever. According to the ninja traitor/assassin, someone paid Shusaku good money to kill Taro, but Taro has no idea why anyone would want to kill him. What he doesn't realize is that this order comes from Lord Oda Nobunaga, the Shogun's most powerful daimiyo besides Lord Ieyasu Tokugawa. When Taro reaches Shusaku's clan, the secrets behind his existence are slowly revealed and his dream of becoming a samurai is shattered.However, Taro embarks on an adventure that will not only make him a ninja, but the most powerful being in the land.

Critical Evaluation:
Blood Ninja is the epitome of an epic tale where readers will not only love the richness of the back story, but he or she invest their time, energy, and hope in all of the characters. Nick Lake has definitely done his research, which not educates the readers, but allows those who are familiar with Japanese history to get excited. I grew up on samurai flicks where all of this is totally familiar, not to mention, my favorite anime series (Ruroni Kenshin) takes place in the same time period. Lake not only weaves true events into this tale, but the idea of ninja as vampires is pretty ingenious. The idea of ninja has always been shrouded by mystery and, for those who have done their research, know that these beings are incredibly powerful, but their secrets very well hiddne. Granted, I don't any Ninja, personally, I could easily see how the traits of a vampire are very similar to these warriors. Along with the historical background, the characters in this story are so beautifully STRONG! I have to give credit where its due because none of the females, in this story, are just as formidable as the male. Hana, Heiko, Yukiko, the Abess, the Ame, and, even Lady Tokugawa (lasting for as long as she did) are given the opportunity to show their strengths, which, for me, is such a huge breath of fresh air. Moreover, since this book is definitely meant for the reluctant male reader, Lake provides them with a story where the stereotypical gender roles have no place in this world, especially when vampires are for hire. Blood Ninja is action packed adventure where one boy's life takes a rather interesting turn that will either make or break him.                   

Information about the Author:
According to Simon and Schuster, Nick Lake was born on August 21 and is the current Children's Book Editor for Harper UK. He attended high school in Luxemburg and went to college in Oxford, England where he earned his degree in Phonetics. Here are a list of unique questions that he has answered in regards to his life, work, and dreams:
Q. How would you describe your life in only 8 words?
A. I would use the word "busy" eight times.
Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
A. A fire, a good chair and a new Stephen King book. Or the moment the soundchecks finish and the band take to the stage. Or sunset on the mountains, with weary feet, and the lights of a pub ahead. Or the sound of a breakbeat. Or a very sweet tea, anywhere in the middle east, at any time of day.
Q. What’s your greatest fear?
A. Not being good.
Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A. The main square in Esfehan, Iran, with the aforementioned glass of tea.
Q. With whom in history do you most identify?
A. Er... someone who was a writer and an editor? I don't know. I don't think I identify with anyone.
Q. Which living person do you most admire?
A. Haruki Murakami. Stephen King. Anyone who works for Medecins sans Frontieres or Amnesty International.
Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?
A. "Apparently".
Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A. The abillity to play a musical instrument well. Also, the ability to speak all languages fluently.
Q. What is your greatest achievement?
A. Meeting my wife.
Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A. I wouldn't mind being Simon Cowell. I could make the X-factor go away. Not to mention R&B flavoured pop music.
Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?
A. I have no idea. My hair? It's usually quite big, because I keep forgetting to have it cut. I look like the freakish son of Tom Hanks and David Hasselhoff.
Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A. Sally Lockhart.
Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A. Steerpike. (Also hero.)
Q. If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A. I'd like to meet Shakespeare and I'd ask him how to write better.
Teen Thrillers, Teen Historical Fiction, Teen Fantasy

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

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Awards & Recognition: 

Review Quotes:

“The night has a new hero.”—Darren Shan, author of the Cirque Du Freak series

“A fast-paced, gripping book about ninjas. It’s all I ask for, really.”—Conn Iggulden, coauthor of The Dangerous Book for Boys

“An elegantly thrilling and action-packed tale of honor, duty, and desetiny.”—Derek Land, author of Skulduggery Pleasant

“Deftly blends sixteenth-century Japanese samurai history with vampire mythology to concoct a gory and fast-paced adventure that will grab readers...the cliff-hanger ending will leave readers clamoring for a sequel.”—Booklist

“Lake uses the story's familiar elements skillfully, combining them into an imaginative and original whole. And, really, with vampire ninjas, how can you lose?”—Publishers Weekly

“Those who enjoy Far Eastern-tinged quest stories—with a dash of vampires and ninjas for flavor—will find much to enjoy here.”—VOYA

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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