Friday, September 5, 2014

Book Review: Relax, I'm a Ninja by Natalie Whipple

Title: Relax, I'm a Ninja
Author: Natalie Whipple
Enjoyment Rating: ****
Source: Digital Copy
Content Alert: mild language, kissing, sharing a bed but no sex, violence

Tosh is a nerd at a San Francisco prep school by day, flying under the radar. But by night, he's the best young ninja in the city, trained by his father (who runs a karate studio as a front). Amy is a fellow student, both at the prep school and at the dojo, and Tosh's father invites her to train to become a ninja just as a serial killer starts killing people all around the city, leaving behind the unmistakable mark of the ninja poison Dragon Bile. As Tosh and Amy work to uncover who's behind the murders, they also discover that they have feelings for each other.

Relax, I'm a Ninja is a really fun read. It has just the right amount of action, well-drawn rounded characters in Tosh and Amy, a fun, smart mystery, and a little romance. In fact, the romance was one thing that made this book hard to classify. On the one hand, it's got the kind of action I think my teenage son would totally dig. I'd put it in the Hunger Games/Divergent- strong girl camp, except that the narrator is a guy. On the other hand, Tosh talks A LOT about what he's feeling about Amy, which made it feel a little girly (sorry, gross generalization, I know).  And then theres the fact that about halfway through the novel, it shifts from our everyday world to a speculative world where ninjas can steal souls and have superpowers and stuff like that. I liked that surprise and thinks it works here, but that ordinarily would be a strike against the narrative for me.

So I guess I'll give this book to both of my teenagers and suggest they read it. I think they'll both love it, for different reasons. And yes, there will be a sequel or two. It feels written to be a movie or three.

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