Ninjas, right? How awesome is that? I always enjoy reading YAs with plot devices I haven’t read before, and teenage urban ninjas definitely fall into that category. But as crazy as modern ninjas might sound, the author makes them fairly believable, and I think she pulls it off mostly because of her main character, Callista.
She also doesn’t expect to stumble across a group of shinobi, modern-day ninjas who also happen to be high school students. Or for them to claim destiny sent her to join them. Or for the hot, harmonica-playing loner from her chemistry class to be one of the instructors.
For once, she starts to think that maybe she could belong somewhere. But she quickly learns her new friends aren’t running some casual karate school. And when Callista’s assigned to a dangerous mission they say only she can complete, she begins to suspect it wasn’t destiny that brought her to the shinobi at all but a carefully laid plan. Oh, and the worst part? The boy she thought she could trust may have known the truth all along.
Callista is just so dang likable and easy to relate to. Plus, she’s funny and down-to-earth . . . the whole package really. So naturally, being the smart girl she is, when she first gets introduced to the world of modern ninjas, she’s completely skeptical at first. And I think because she was as dubious as I was about the plausibility of ninjas, by the time she was finally convinced, I was too. We made the journey together, if you will.
So, obviously, being a book about ninjas, it’s a mostly plot-driven story. The plot falls more into the light and fun spectrum rather than being suspenseful or gripping like you might expect from a story about ninjas, but the less serious approach to the story really worked for me. And while there’s not necessarily a whole lot going on in terms of character development, Callista is so likable from the get-go that it was mostly a non-issue for me.
I could’ve used a little more insight into some of the secondary characters, though, like Mercer, Izzy, Aaron, and Sol. Because what you see of them is so intriguing, and you can just tell they all have good backstories, but the book doesn’t really give you more than glimpses. You get a bit of a deeper look at Nick, the crush, but even with him, I didn’t feel like I was getting the whole picture. So I’m looking forward to them being fleshed out in later books.
As for the writing, I thought the book was pretty dang polished for a self-published. There are a couple places where errors slipped through, but by and large it’s well-written and amusing and reads smoothly. For the most part, I don’t think I would’ve guessed that I wasn’t reading a traditionally published book.
Overall, a fun read that strikes a good balance between the martial arts and making out. Although I could’ve used a bit more development in some areas, Callista is a strong main character that carries the book along effortlessly. And the book sets up some promising plot twists towards the end, so I’m on board for reading any subsequent books in the series. Recommended for fans of Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series or of Leila Sales’ writing style, and it's out today!
Rating: 4 / 5
Received for review.
In an effort to give a new author some buzz, Clare Haltom is giving away 10 copies of “Just Call Me Ninja” (Kindle or paper copy). All she asks is that you consider giving a fair and honest review on your blog, on Amazon, or on Goodreads. To win a free copy, just be one of the first 10 people to leave a comment on this post with your email (or Twitter name or some other way to contact you) by May 5, 2014.
Find Clare Haltom . . .
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