Katana (A Katana Novel)

Katana - Cole Gibsen "Katana" has perhaps a very familiar premise to many stories centering around a contemporary teen embracing their roots as a pre-destined warrior/fighter. Unfortunately, the familiarity in its troupes are perhaps a bit too much, at least in my overall reaction to Cole Gibsen's work. I don't doubt that there are some who would enjoy this story, particularly in the target age group this book is aimed for, but for me, the biggest issues were never being able to connect to the characters and having to wade through a sea of stereotypical, predictable depictions that might promise a good fight or development of a relationship, but delivers on neither one.Rileigh Martin is a young woman who can't explain her sudden defense against three assailants who attacked her and her best friend Quentin one night. But with the help of a trainer, Kim, Rileigh learns that she has latent abilities residing in her from a former life - a 500-year old samurai warrior. The story sequences itself between the present day and a love story between two characters in feudal Japan. Rileigh has to embrace her spirit in the face of ninjas and other forces that threaten her life, and rise to the occasion as a warrior. Rileigh herself is difficult to like, since she fights her destiny, and not even in the sense where she does it in an emotionally plausible way. She's more apt to complain about it, and I never really had a sense of growth/strength surrounding her character - she's more passive than active except for when her latent abilities tend to kick in - resulting in some decent fighting scenes accounted from the author, but I never really had a sense of urgency, passion, or will from her when it came to becoming a warrior - much of that energy seemed spent on developing her relationship with dojo owner Kim, who trains her and has an incarnate spirit of his own. I felt the connection between Kim and Rileigh was lukewarm at best, and while there were spot showings of the emotional connection between Senshi and Yoshido that I liked, I don't think it ever conveyed the depth or connectivity associated with the time they lived - it seems just touched/grazed upon at best.The surrounding cast of characters were stereotypical cutouts for me, including Quentin, who I thought in some measures was humorous, but his presence is so stilted. I usually prefer characters that have a bit more dimension, and are active/reactive in the settings around them, rather than having a cookie cutter persona that's meant to fulfill only the main character's need.I think the writing shows growth potential on Gibsen's behalf, so I'm not opposed to seeking out other work from her, but I thought "Katana" never reached a plane distinctive enough to set itself apart for its genre, despite an intriguing premise.Overall score: 1.5/5Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Flux Books.