Sunday, September 1, 2013

Review: Tokyo Dare by Anne Van



Sixteen-year-old artist, Erin Van Horn, doesn't know an Unagi Roll from a Kaiser Roll. But on a dare from her best friend, Tori Mukigawa, she wins a coveted spot as an exchange student at a prestigious Tokyo high school. Once in the Land of the Rising Sun, Erin struggles to learn the culture and deal with a host family from hell. Papasan, the father, stops speaking to her after she mistakenly "murders" his favorite bonsai tree. The mother, Mamasan, believes Erin’s evil because she's left-handed and their son is an Elvis impersonator who is convinced Erin's the spitting image of Priscilla if only she'd dye her blonde hair black, and become his child bride.

But Erin has a bigger problem than her crazy host family when she faces the ultimate dare from Tori—a to-do list she slipped into her backpack. Racked with guilt for winning the spot that should have gone to her best friend, Erin is determined to complete the list. Simple right? All she has to do is find a rock star boyfriend, (sure, there's one on every street corner), apprentice under a famous Japanese artist, (no problem, they'll be listed in the Tokyo Yellow Pages) and visit Tori's long lost relatives to find out what's hidden in the family closet. So what if the only words she knows in Japanese are, "Excuse me eat pretty idiot.”

How hard can it be?

My Rating: 5

My Review:

Justine's Tokyo Dare Review To-Do List:

1) Set up blog post. Try to make it look pretty.

2) Talk about how incredible Tokyo Dare is.

3) Get mad at yourself for wanting to type Tokyo Drift even though this book is truly unique.

4) Fangirl over Fudo.

5) Highly Recommend. Like, Himalayas high.

6) Eagerly anticipate more.

I can easily say that I fell head over heels for Tokyo Dare, and am now immediately planning a trip to Japan. Okay, maybe I don't have the money for that, but a girl can dream, right?

Tokyo Dare is a great YA contemporary, that is both hilarious  and silly, along with having more serious and important themes. Beautifully written, I loved reading about the clash of American and Japanese cultures, as a teenager who loves to travel.

All of the characters were well-developed and very realistic. Erin is an excellent voice, as well as a very relatable character. Even when she makes decisions that have a less than desirable outcome, one can't help but like her - because of the realistic logic that lead there, as well as her unique personality.

Fudo is also an excellent character, and happens to be one of my favorites. I don't want to ruin anything, because I believe that Tokyo Dare is a book that YA fans should check out for themselves, but I definitely liked the way that the romantic interests were handled in the novel. It really made myself question my judge of character, and led to a small kind of cliffhanger at the end.

For realistic fiction with real problems that are not as earth-shattering as some other novels, Tokyo Dare is definitely a page turner. I could hardly put it down, as the novel is a highly entertaining read. I found myself completely immersed in the story and the foreign world that I can only imagine. It was not until my eyes finished scanning the final page that I realized I was not actually in Japan.

Although I am not a master of the fine arts myself, I am definitely a true appreciator, and one of my favorite scenes was the koi painting. It was a magical moment, with absolutely stunning description.

Tokyo Dare is a wonderful YA novel. It is the kind of book that stays with the reader long after finishing. With great characters, enchanting description and imagery, an array of light emotion, a mix of cultures, and the friendship and romantic relationships that other novels can only hope to achieve, I absolutely cannot wait to read more.

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