Sea of Shadow (The Twelve Kingdoms Series #1)

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Only the most ambitious readers need apply for Ono's complex seven-part epic, the first volume of the Twelve Kingdoms series, which is being published in English 15 years after its Japanese debut. Apart from being a redhead in a country where everyone's hair was black, Yoko is a student at an all-girl high school living an ordinary life-until she is attacked one day by several giant creatures. An enigmatic man named Keiki rescues her and whisks her across the Void Sea to a "bizarre and fearful world," where gods interact with kings, and children literally grow on trees. Yoko became separated from Keiki as she entered this mythical province of Jhun, in a land divided into 12 kingdoms. Its inhabitants, Yoko discovers, consider her a bad omen and would like to see her dead. Yoko's quest to locate Keiki leads her to some characters with questionable motives before she meets a friendly "rat-creature" named Rakushun. From him Yoko learns that Keiki is not a man but rather a kirin, "the biggest and noblest of the spirit-creatures"-and she is herself the "Glory-King," the chosen leader of the wartorn kingdom of Kei. Drawing heavily on Asian mythology, the story moves at a sluggish pace, at times bogged down by details and terminology. Yoko does not learn much about herself until the final stretch. For those who enjoy getting lost in multilayered adventures, this epic offers dense and challenging escapism. Ages 13-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Melyssa Malinowski
Yoko hates her life. She hates the nightmares. The thing she hates the most though is her hair. The bright red threatens to undue all her hard work at fading into the crowd. Little does she know that the intense nightmarish dreams she has are about to come true. Torn from school by a strange little being, she is thrust into the land of her nightmares. There she is persecuted just for being a foreigner. Little by little, Yoko takes a stand for herself and moves through the fairytale landscape. Through many intrigues and sword-clashing forays, gathering friends and allies along the way, she moves towards her destiny. But does she have what it takes to step up and be one of the rulers of The Twelve Kingdoms? Sure to be wildly popular with the anime/manga crowd, the novel reads with all the action and intensity of a comic. It is on the lengthy side so it might be just what is needed to hook those reluctant readers into reading.
School Library Journal

Gr 9–11
Yoko is an ordinary high school girl with nightmares when a golden-haired young man tells her she's in dream-foreshadowed danger. Soon the teen is flying on the back of a huge bird to a kingdom in another world, where she'll eventually learn that she is destined for a throne. The prominence of a jewel and a sword (as well as purification by water) connects this tale to Japanese tradition. Chinese tradition contributes cosmography and the Mandate of Heaven. Anime tradition guarantees lots of bloody monster-killing by the reluctant (and imperfect) Yoko. This otherworld seems thinly realized, with confusing politics; however, violent action and odd creatures abound. The real-world frame plays a small role, though the fantasy of not really belonging to one's parents is key. Yoko leaves behind her conservative, sexist upbringing, putting on men's clothes and developing muscles, acknowledging the demonic within, and learning to assert herself. Yet, she fears trusting anyone and judges the absence of religion as the reason for people's selfishness. A cynical blue monkey, the heroine's amoral self, regularly suggests suicide. The reading level is not difficult, but names (Keiki, Kaiko, Kyokai, Kou, etc.) are tricky without a guide. Pacing is uneven: stretches of inaction drag on and anticlimax replaces a final confrontation with the forces of evil—but six more volumes are planned. Anime fans will be encouraged by the occasional manga-style black-and-white illustration, and the strong female protagonist will attract others to a fantasy with identity and self-acceptance at its core.
—Patricia D. LothropCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781598169461
  • Publisher: TOKYOPOP
  • Publication date: 3/13/2007
  • Series: Twelve Kingdoms Series , #1
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 464
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.20 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 24 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great novel, fantastic anime!

    I first encountered Twelve Kingdoms (Juuni Kokuki) as an anime, which I watched with my daughter. I was saddened when the series came to an abrupt end (there was a personal issue with the manga-ka (manga artist) which precluded continuing the series.

    When I discovered that the books were being translated into English, I had to start reading them. The characters are fun and interesting. Yes, at the beginning of the book, I do find myself wanting to take Yoko and smack her upside the head when she starts whining, but I doubt I'm the only one who feels this way about her.

    I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in epic storytelling. It's an awful lot of fun!

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  • Posted November 18, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Carrie Spellman for TeensReadToo.com

    Yoko Nakajima is the perfect daughter. She's a good student, she always does what she's told, she never complains, she never calls attention to herself -- perfect. Except for her red hair that stands out everywhere in Japan, but no one can explain that one. Aside from that, she's perfect. So, when she starts falling asleep in class, it's surprising to everyone. If it weren't for those terrifying dreams, maybe she could get some sleep at night. And then when a strange man shows up at school, and windows start exploding, and Keiko (the strange man) commands her to accept his undying loyalty... Somehow landing in a foreign world after falling through the moon seems almost normal. Except that there is absolutely nothing normal about any of it! <BR/><BR/>Yoko is attacked by monsters, gets thrown in jail, learns to steal, fights with a sword she has never learned how to use, and the only person she knows, Keiko, is nowhere to be found. All Yoko knows now is that she's the only person she can trust. And her hopes of getting home grow smaller and smaller every day. But she can't stop searching -- for Keiko, for home, for herself. <BR/><BR/>This book started with a pop, and then dropped to a slow buildup. It was a little frustrating. Yoko, as well, bothered me in the beginning. Perhaps it was more of a traditional depiction of a young Japanese girl, and having been raised to be extremely independent, I got irritated. That all being said, the end of the book redeemed everything for me. I loved where it went! I want to read more. Also, there's a lot of interesting discussion of languages and symbols and Japanese characters. I'm sure I could have learned a lot from it, if my brain had some basis of prior knowledge.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2008

    What a fantastic story!

    This is one of the best books I've ever read. It is an Asian fantasy novel full of unforgettable and interesting characters. There is an anime series made along the lines of this story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2008

    amazing, outstanding, incredible!!!

    I absolutely loved this book! It is the greatest book I've read in a long time, and probably the greatest book I've ever read! Fuyumi Ono is an extraordinary writer. The story begins with Yoko Nakajima, a 16 year old girl from modern Japan. One day, a man named Keiki comes to her school saying she is his 'master.' She has no idea what's going on, but he takes her to the ocean and has her ride a demon to 'his world.' she falls off and wakes up in a different world. As the book progresses, Yoko tries to find Keiki, wandering aimlessly, eventually learning about the rules, the lands, the provinces, etc. of this world she is in, as well as dealing with friendships, betrayals, demons, trustworthy people, and untrustworthy people. This book has almost everything. To set something straight, just because this book is japanese doesn't mean it's stupid. Okay, I'm a huge anime fan. I love watching Inuyasha and Naruto. My older brother thinks anime is stupid and predictable. He told me to name actual books I've read that are good, suspenseful, and have good characters and a good plot. I named this book, and since this book was originally written in japan and is published by Tokyopop, he thought it was stupid and predictable too. I told him to read it, and he loved it! So don't make any bad assumptions. The only problem is that you have to wait a while for the next volume.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2008

    Hooked

    I'm not a real book lover. In fact, this is the first book i've picked up this year(without the demands of a teacher), and I'm really impressed. I couldn't take my eyes off the book at all. Actually, I had missed lunch all together because of this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2008

    Prettty Good

    The story itself is awesome. It's creative, vivid, and fun. The only thing is, the translation is a bit funny. It could be written 'this English version' just a tiny bit better. DO NOT let that stop you though! It's a great book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2007

    Amazing!!!!

    This is the best book I've ever read. I simply could not put it down after I got it, I read it in 4 days. There are no slow points at all. I became very sad when the pages got fewer and fewer. If you want a book that will keep you yearning for more 12 Kingdoms is where it's at.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2007

    Woah an AMAZING book!

    I was walking through Barnes and Noble recently and I saw this book. I thought it looked ok, but decided not to get it. Instead I got another book that I didn't like very much. Well a few days later my friend told me that he had read this great book and asked if I wanted to borrow it. I said 'sure why not and couldn't help but laugh at the irony of the situation. After reading the first chapter of the book I was glued to the pages.I started reading faster and faster, trying to find out what hardship Yoko was going to face next. The twist and turns of the plot line are so subtle and complex that it will leave you stunned. This book starts out with a a 1 6 year old girl and ends with something greater than ever thought possible! The only thing that I am disapointed in is that I have to wait to read the next volume!

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews

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