Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Book Review: Ninja Girl Adventures by Melissa Wilson & Phil Elmore


Ninja Girl Adventures
by Melissa Wilson & Phil Elmore

I received an e-version via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Young Adult, adventure, ninja, supernatural, fantasy


Fourteen year old Moira Mackenzie and her sisters, Mindy (15) and Marci (9), are newly orphaned. Their mother, Kameko, died in a car accident, and now their father, Stephen Mackenzie, has disappeared in a plane accident (presumed dead). The girls are now under the guardianship of their father's best friend Morton Gerardi, aka Uncle Mort. Unbeknownst to anyone, their father willed his corporation, KogaTech Consolidated, to 14 year old Moira, instead of leaving it to the girls' uncle, Jiro Akiyama (Kameko's adopted brother) as was expected.

Through the course of the story, Moira meets her grandmother, Aiko Akiyama, who turns out to be the head of a clan of ninjas! She also learns that Uncle Jiro is also a ninja, head of a branch of Aiko's original clan, and that he is out to get Moira and will stop at nothing to get control of KogaTech Consolidated. Aiko begins training Moira in the art of ninjutsu (and Moira, in turn, begins teaching her sisters), which eventually comes in handy as Moira needs to fight her uncle to save her sisters' lives.

When I first read the synopsis for this book, I thought it sounded like a really interesting middle grade/young adult read with a new twist: ninjas and sisterly love! This is not a subgenre I generally go for, but I thought it sounded fun. Unfortunately, the story really wasn't that interesting to me; it just fell a bit flat. 

After reading the first two chapters, I was ready to quit. I had already encountered two story continuity issues, which I really don't deal well with, and I was tempted to drop the book completely. However, after seeking advice from friends, and taking a couple days to think about it, I decided to give the book a second chance and at least try to finish within the time frame I had left before the book would expire from my NetGalley library, which I did.

The first continuity issue I encountered was that the main character, Moira, is supposed to be the middle child, but within the first chapter, when describing her relationship with her guardian, Uncle Mort, it says that "he always offered Moira coffee because she was the oldest." It is possible that referring to her as being the oldest is meant to be some kind of inside joke, but it only came across as a confusing error.

The next chapter talks about the older sister, Mindy, and how she has been skipping school and generally getting into trouble with her friend "Aubry," but then on the same page, it suddenly starts referring to the friend as "Amy." It is, of course, possible that there are two different friends, but the text just sounds like there is one friend whose name changed in the middle of the page.

Aside from these errors and some grammatical stuff, the rest of the book seemed technically sound. It is very dialogue heavy, and uses 3rd person omniscient POV. Personally, when I read a book with this POV, I prefer for there to be separate chapters using each character's voice. This book just passes to another person's perspective fluidly. Yet, we only get another person's perspective once in a while. For the most part, the story is just following Moira in third person. In my opinion, I think it might have been better to not include the other perspectives, or to have rewritten them to fit third person limited, OR to have inserted a short chapter here and there, where necessary, to share that person's perspective.

There were also times when a "punchline" of the story was unnecessarily reiterated. The main example being, near the end of the book, when Moira is facing off against Uncle Jiro and he gets away. They follow his blood trail and discover it was an illusion, then go back to where he was injured to see the real trail leading away to the elevators. Moira then goes on the explain exactly that back to Aiko, who obviously knows what has happened because she pointed out the illusion to Moira in the first place.

In conclusion, I did not enjoy reading this book. I found the character names of the sisters too similar and was often getting confused about who was who. If I'm honest, I didn't really like any of the characters all that much. I found Uncle Mort to be an irresponsible guardian. I really couldn't understand why Moira acts like a parent to her siblings when she is the middle child, and only 14? It really bothered me that a 14 year old child would be present at her 15 year old sister's disciplinary meeting at school. Not only that, but this 14 year old is missing school to "take care" of her siblings, when there is a supposedly capable adult guardian around?! And I do get that it's supposed to be a "chosen one" kind of trope, where Moira inherits her father's business because the other girls aren't interested, and then she becomes a ninja because that's also part of the family business/history and makes up the backbone of the story, but... How unlikely is it that a parent would leave his entire fortune and business to the middle child, when that child is only 14 years old? I also think it is unfortunate that the final chapter leaves off with a cliffhanger indicating that there is more to come.

I don't know if there are planned sequels, but this book should really just be a standalone novel.

My Goodreads rating:

I am usually very generous with my ratings, but I really don't feel I can give this one more than 1 star.

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