Raiju – K.H. Koehler

Posted on: March 11, 2010

Let me say at the outset that this book only tangentially qualifies as survival fiction. The end of the world is indeed threatened in this story, not by zombies or nuclear holocaust but rather by really big freaking monsters. Think Godzilla, but better. However, this isn’t a tale of survival after an apocalypse. That being the case, normally I wouldn’t have included a review of it here. But, to be quite blunt, I was blown away by this book. What can I say? This is my own little corner of the Internet and I can post what I want.

Kevin is a survivor of a great disaster in San Francisco. A giant monster had leveled the city, killing Kevin’s best friend among thousands of others. Moving to New York City with his father, they are trying to get a fresh start with their lives. Unfortunately for Kevin, making friends at his new school while avoiding getting into trouble is the least of his worries. He soon learns he is a Keeper, destined to play a central role in the war of the Kami. Keepers have the power to call forth their own Kami, huge and immensely powerful creatures. Side benefits are flaming hands and, at least in Kevin’s case, a mystical katana.

As Kevin tries to sort through this new development in his life, he has bigger problems. He’s fallen in love with the school’s coolest and most beautiful girl but she’s attached to the school’s toughest bully. Will she like Kevin if she learns his secret? And what is it that she is hiding about herself?

In RAIJU, the author has perfectly captured the voice of Kevin, who narrates the story. At the outset, Kevin is the epitome of the “rebel without a clue.” Angry, suffering from survivor’s guilt, frustrated with how trouble seems to seek him out. As the story progresses, he develops into a fully realized reluctant hero. To be honest, this is how Peter Parker would be if he were played by James Dean. While the character development is outstanding, the book really shines in the “Hulk Smash!” battle scenes. Giant monsters duking it out is just full of awesome.

Ms. Koehler has a hit with this book. Rousing action, teen angst, and just enough Japanese myth to whet our appetites without becoming a history lesson. In short, this book rocks!

The book may be ordered here.

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