Sleep beckoned, but my brain refused to comply. But first, to the negatives: the biggest of which is how detail specific things could get. There’s a very clear vision of who they are and where they are, and it’s all vibrantly laid out… sometimes, to the detriment of the story’s flow. At points I’d forget where we were in the story because of how elaborately laid out things were. I honestly didn’t care much for it at first. However, there came a point when things being descriptive became the norm. It became less a chore getting through… and you see just that the story itself has something to offer. It’s as intricate as it is specifically described. Sure, you have to pay closer attention lest you lose a detail… and more often than not I’d lose the thread but this vividly depicted world is, if only one thing~unknown to me, different. And there I was keeping at it because there were those interesting bits that intrigued me:One thing I looked forward to was how it’s a story less about a girl defined by the company she kept the boy she was with, and more about her being strong and kick ass. She was those things indeed; but beyond that was the father-daughter story. There’s a whole history of hurt there, as is obvious from the way she held herself off from him and the way they (didn’t )talk to each other. It’s also clear that there were bigger secrets somewhere, things you couldn’t really guess at, but in the meantime, things could get rough and painful (emotionally at least). Though her actions made sense and her bitterness read valid; it’s her yearning that added a touch of sad and sometimes a touch of the frustrating, too. Her yearning for what they once were and her wanting him to be different definitely added some more depth to her character. She’s unwilling to forgive, a bit rough at handling him, but still missing the way things were.Apart from everyone else, we see that YUKIKO is independent, and different in thinking, BUT not hard. Her awareness of things around her made the questions she was asking more dangerous for her. Discount the fact that she indeed was ‘special,’ it was her manner that would likely get her in trouble. She’s aware, going along with things but not always willingly. If one adds all those things up, she really did make an interesting lead.I couldn’t help but see parallels with other recent dystopian reads. You know, where the ones at the helm keep the rest mellow by drugging them up? It’s less subtle here with the Lotus Bloom instead of “there’s something in the water,” but it was funny seeing a parallel where there might not have been one to begin with (blame it one YA dystop filling up the market!) And how did things stand? If not the aristocracy/authority/shogunate and its Guildsmen with their need to conquer and ‘the Lotus must Bloom,’ well there were the makings of a rebellion (or what I thought of as a rebellion) in the Kage. It’s their bit, barely mentioned at all that had me imagining other possibilities! They’re bogeymen burning crops, used in stories to keep kids inline… complete with their own unauthorized radio frequencies and broadcasts… so, dystopian feel? Check. (well, YA-dystopian, at least.) If those things don’t sway you, there’s the little theme of the trusty animal sidekick being the first to bite it!(And since I’m still on this line of thought, do you guys recall how Collins said the underlying theme of THG had to do with consequences of not being environmentally minded? I totally missed that point there, but I didn’t miss it here because Buruu, could sure get a little preachy… though only at times! It was fine. The message isn’t a bad one but message books get me feeling itchy-guilty. It practically shoved down my throat like in *cough*Water Wars*cough* It’s just that I like my fiction fictional… mostly. ~ Golly gee! This makes me sound evil).But back to the good. Where's the good? That unlikely pairing that does not begin with an instant love connection. *Yippee!* When she’s with him, it really is less about boys and what not, BUT more about what she is like and what she’s capable of. She’s strong as I’ve said so before… but she’s not hard. It’s the same that that allows a connection on a deeper level (literally). ARASHITORA, what ever the hell you are, you and YUKIKO make one hell of a pair! The initial curiosity coupled with inevitable wariness of one for the other was entertaining, but the laugh out loud moments of having the same thoughts even at the most inopportune time even more so.Then things come together and action starts going, but once it did, I was imagining… Dorothy? Somewhere in the middle of it all, she ends up with her trusty sidekick, plus a guy who spouting philosophical sounding shit like ‘skin is strong and flesh is weak.’ I was all ‘Tin man, dude!’ So, she’s Dorothy, but what did that make Buruu? Toto? Because he most defiantly is not the Lion…I mean save the feline similarity. But it’s Tin man with his black and white view of things that was most interesting to me. You could tell that together something important was happening; something vital totally flying over her head, and you’d be right. And the eventual additions of Hiro etc, revealed a softer side to her… but there’s just so many things in this one that you really do have to take your time with it and not get frustrated with the descriptions that suddenly pop in because things could get interesting.“So to the hells with being afraid, be clever instead”THANK YOU NETGALLEY!3/5-----*edit* And my eyes have been opened... when I first read this, it was all positives all over the place (myself included); but wait a beat a month and one eye opening review after another pops up. I kid you not, my eyes are wide open now.