Thursday, December 7, 2017

Val Roberts - The Nobinata Gambit

Shakiro Nobinata wakes from life-saving surgery to discover he is paralyzed from mid-chest and re-growing several organs as well as his spinal cord. Lilo, who it turns out is really named Yuki Karaguchi, has been tasked with “assisting with recovery” by Shakiro’s father, Clan Lord Feng Nobinata.
Shakiro's parents ask him to come home to the Empire of Nippon and Allied Cultures for his convalescence. He takes Yuki and her terminally ill mother (the original Agent Karaguchi) with him, only to discover his father’s true motivation is a mysterious disappearance of a distant relative of the emperor; Nobinata is the clan in charge of Imperial Security, so any missing member of the royal family is a big problem. And the Emperor himself is coming to the planet in a few weeks.
So Shakiro has to learn how to walk again, convince the intriguing woman who has seen him at his worst to stay with him, find a traitor to the empire, and plan a Buddhist funeral, all in the few weeks before the Emperor arrives for his Golden Jubilee celebration…and possible assassination.

Comment: It's been more than an year since I've read the first book in the trilogy Human Diaspora by author Val Roberts. I confess I don't remember much besides the basics but I still remember I liked it so, after months of looking for it, I got this sequel and it ended up being my first read of December.

In this sequel, we follow Shakiro, a character that was present in the first book and who helped Tasha (heroine from book 1) survive an attack. In the process, Shakiro got injured and now he must deal with his recovery. He is also "invited2 to go back home to help his father, the person he thought didn't want him around the family anymore, to solve a problem without much publicity.
In his recovery process is included Lilo, an agent from the Nippon empire who gets the task of aiding him, and since her mother is also ill, they all travel to the empire for their own reasons. But Shakiro gets used to Lilo and starts having difficulties imagining a life without this woman who so much fascinates him...

I admit I didn't enjoy this book as much as the first one but it was still an interesting read.
I think my issues here were mostly due to the fact the plot seemed to move at a weird pace, and some scenes jumped very quickly without much development so... everything seemed rather rushed and without much purpose than just the solution of a problem.

Of course some of the best aspects of the book are intertwined with the bad: I didn't understand some steps taken in the plot but it was certainly fascinating to delve into Nipponic culture and procedures and why some notions seemed so important. In fact, the fact some characters are clearly Japanese is what makes this interesting. No matter how much one can know, it's always absorbing to read about Japanese things and people.

The plot was ok, I'd say. I was a bit lost on why certain things happened but for the most part, the fact the two main characters interacted a lot at first made it more believable for them to be in love later on. I still think the romance was a bit too subtle, I can't say if it was to "obey" the Japanese more private course of action or if it was a pacing issue but I could have used more  sexual tension before they told one another their relationship could evolve. It could also have used more romanticism.
After they arrive on Japan, things progress in a weird way, I still don't feel convinced the plot was done in the best way and the character interactions wasn't was smooth and understandable to me. But I also think this might be just a personal impression rather than a narrative problem.

I also think the story was very short for the amount of issues being dealt with.Nevertheless, it was a good enough story to entertain and some elements were engaging and interesting but yes, I sort of hoped for a bigger impact on all levels, especially emotionally and plot wise.
Grade: 6/10

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