Today I share my review with you of Removed (Nogiku series #1) by SJ Pajonas. And tomorrow on the release day of Released (Nogiku series #2) I share my review of that book with you.
Removed (Nogiku series #1)
By SJ Pajonas
Genre: Science Fiction Romance, Post-apocalyptic
Age category: New Adult
Release Date: September 11, 2013
Duty knows no family. Love has no price. Secrets can cost you everything. Twenty-year-old Sanaa Griffin, a sweet and smart half-Japanese girl, is about to get more than she bargained for when she wishes for love and excitement on New Year’s Eve 3103. Mark Sakai, who knows more about her than any stranger should, thinks Sanaa is the perfect person to spy on the heads of the three biggest Japanese clan leaders in Nishikyo. He wants her to gather enough evidence to keep them from going to war when they land on Earth’s colonization planet, Yusei. Nishikyo, built by the Japanese 300 years ago to house the rest of mankind, is failing and everyone is preparing to leave. Sakai has known Sanaa’s family all her life but she knows nothing of him! And despite all the time they spend together, he keeps his distance from her. Then one day, he brings her to Jiro, his nephew, to learn sword fighting, and it changes her life irrevocably. Between falling in love with Jiro and the information she is gathering on the clans, Sanaa realizes Sakai is holding back secrets about her family and her deceased parents, secrets as to why she was chosen for this job, and learning the truth puts her and all of Nishikyo in danger.
There are some books for which you read the blurb and know that you are going to love it, Removed was one of those books for me. Once I read the blurb I couldn’t get it out of my head and it didn’t took me long to give over to the temptation and buy it.
I hardly know where to start with this review, Removed was amazing and I fell completely in love with the story. The pace of the story is slow, but it perfectly fits the book. Also around halfway through the story really picks up, things are starting to change and some great twists and turns take place that I didn’t saw coming. From that point onwards I knew this would be a 5 star book for me. I love the writing style of the author and how she brings the world in this book alive.
The first half of the story is mostly world building, getting to know the seting and the main character and it is the build-up for everything that happens later. Some things where a bit confusing and didn’t make sense at first, but later everything makes more sense. I loved the japanese traditions that where an important part of this book. I have always been interested in japan and the culture and I loved learning more about it. It’s obvious the author knows what she’s talking about.
I was a bit confused at first at the use of japanese words, as in the first few pages it could get a bit overwhelming sometimes. I know some japanese words, but not a lot. After the first few pages I got used to it and the author weaves it perfectly into the story, she still uses japanese words, but thanks to the context I could grasp the meaning of most of them.
This book is mostly post-apocalytpic, but it’s also a romance story and there are some science-fiction elements trown in too. In this book the science-fiction part actually isn’t at the forefront of the story, but I suspect it will be much more important in later books in this series. I always say I am not a big fan of science-fiction, but this books proves again that there are always exceptions. I think the science-fiction elements are done really well in this book and I actually am really looking forward to read how it all plays out in the next books.
When I started this book I almost immediately connected with the main character, Sanaa. Sanaa is a great main character, she is strong, but also has her doubts. I really loved her strenght and how she would push herself to achieve the things she wanted. There are a lot of side characters, I had some difficulties at times to remember who each of them was and had some trouble remembering some of the japanese names, but as the story progresses this got easier. They really addto the story and there are some side characters we get to know quite well. And then there is Jiro, the love interest, he is another great character and as we really get to know him I started to like him more and more.
The romance plays quite an important part in this story and it’s really well done. Sanaa and Jiro are perfect together and I loved how their relationship developed, slow at first, but then faster. They are so good to each other and I like how their relationship missed many of the obvious clichés couples go through in a lot of books. It was original and refreshing and I can’t wait to read more about them!
And then there is the world building, I love books in which the world building is done well and the author did a great job with the world building. It’s a post apocalyptic world, so a lot has changed, but there are also a lot of japanese influences which need explaining too. There is a lot to explain, but I loved learning more about the world and was hungry for more. There are some things about the world I would’ve loved learning more about, like how society changes (it’s around 1000 years in the future) and the impact on the colonization on every day life. But a lot of questions are answered and I was able to get a good idea of the world.
To conclude: I fell completely in love with this story. It starts slow at first, but the pace fits the story. Around halfway through the story really picks up and I was surprised at the twists and turns the story took. While it’s labelled science-fiction, the sci-fi elements don’t play a big part in this book yet and I am curious to read how it will play a bigger part in future books. The romance is done really well and Sanaa and Jiro are so perfect together! The author really made the world come alive, both through detailing the post-apocalyptic elements and the japanese traditions and influences that shape much of the society and world. Needless to say I can’t wait to start on Released, the next book in this series!
About the Author:
S. J. Pajonas loves all things Asian and has been in love with Japan for as long as she can remember. Writing about Asia and Japan came naturally after studying the culture and language for over fifteen years. She studied film and screenwriting first and eventually segued into fiction once she was no longer working a full-time job.
Released is S. J. Pajonas’s second work, book two of four in the Nogiku Series. The first book in the series, Removed, is described as “a wonderful story” with “engaging characters, seamless world building, and an action packed plot.” It’s an “up-til-3am-because-I-read-it-in-one-sitting book.” She also writes contemporary romance and her upcoming first book in the Love in the Digital Age series will be published in 2014.
S. J. lives with her husband and two children just outside of New York City. She loves reading, writing, film, J- and K-dramas, knitting, and astrology. Her favorite author is Haruki Murakami and favorite book is The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.