Series: The Nogiku Series #1
Also in this series: Released
Published by Onigiri Press on September 11th, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, New Adult, Science Fiction
My content rating: 18+ (Some sex and violence)
Duty knows no family. Love has no price. Secrets can cost you everything.
Twenty-year-old Sanaa Griffin is about to get more than she bargained for when she wishes for love, happiness, and excitement on New Year’s Eve. Ripped from the job she always loved, she is reassigned to work for mysterious Mark Sakai and spy on the corrupt leaders of her city. War looms on the horizon, and Sanaa must help Sakai determine the key players and their weak spots before it’s too late.
Mark Sakai has many plans for Sanaa that will take her into a web of lies and danger, and her only protection is to learn to defend herself. But defense training under the watchful eye of Jiro, a strong and enigmatic young man she has a crush on, was not what she expected. Between falling in love with Jiro and the information she is gathering, Sanaa realizes Sakai is holding back secrets about her family and her deceased parents, secrets as to why she was chosen for this job, and learning the truth puts all of humanity in jeopardy.
REMOVED is the first book in a captivating post-apocalyptic series that harnesses the cultures and traditions of Japan and sweeps them into the future between Earth and a faraway land.
Removed is an incredibly unique dystopian novel that is steeped in Japanese culture. I read a blog post where the reviewer was just raving about this series, and I just knew I needed to pick it up. I’m so glad I did!!
The book takes place in a futuristic version of Earth where global warming has ravaged the world and killed off much of the population. People have been living in domes, but they have been working toward relocating to another planet to start again. The book follows Sanaa who learns that she has a unique role to play in this new colonization.
What I loved:
- The unique setting. This book was set in a dystopian world where the environment has been compromised so greatly that the remaining world population is living in a series of connected domes to protect them from the elements. Because the Japanese had the advanced technologies necessary for the development of these domes, much of the population is Japanese and Japanese language and culture have become a major influence in society. I found the insights into Japanese culture extremely interesting – it’s obvious that Pajonas has a great love and respect for the culture and that she is very knowledgeable on it. I loved seeing how this culture was integrated into the futuristic society and the influences that it had. This setting was incredibly unique and definitely my favorite part of the book! (Just a note – some Japanese words and phrases are used and not really explained, but I didn’t find it hard to infer their meanings most of the time.) I also loved the futuristic elements (like insta-wash clothes – with I had a device that could accomplish that!).
- Strong heroine. Sanaa is a complex character. In certain situations she was unsure of herself, so she came off as a bit timid. But once she gained confidence in herself, her abilities (she trains in martial arts and swordfighting) and her new role in life (which I won’t give away), Sanaa truly takes control. I liked that Pajonas made Sanaa believably feminine but still strong and assertive, especially once she felt confidence in whatever situation she was in.
- The romance. I was a big fan of Jiro, Sanaa’s love interest. He trained Sanaa in swordfighting and pushed her to her absolute limits, which just made Sanaa even more attracted to him. Jiro appreciated Sanaa for who she was and didn’t expect her to change – even when parts of who she was didn’t mesh with his expectations. I was definitely rooting for these two throughout the book! The romance starts out with a strong attraction between Jiro and Sanaa, but it then takes them a while to move from friendship to romance (which I appreciated).
- The mysteries. I loved unraveling the mysteries of who Sanaa’s parents were and why Sanaa needed to understand the big players in the major Japanese families. I am really curious to learn even more about the future of the society and how they plan to move to another planet (I suspect that everything is not as it seems with that, but we shall see in future books!).
- Slight lack of connection. I had a slightly difficult time connecting to Sanaa emotionally. This happens to me sometimes with books that are narrated in present tense, though, so that might have been the main issue (I can’t exactly pinpoint why this is true). For instance, there were several times when Sanaa cried and I found myself thinking, “Oh, I had no idea she was really even sad!” I just didn’t connect with her emotions and instead got them through the descriptions. Again, though, present tense seems to do this to me sometimes – it’s like the action sneaks up on me and I don’t connect to it as much for some reason.
Overall, I loved this book and I definitely recommend it to readers who are looking for a dystopian that is new and different. I will certainly be continuing this series and am eager to find out what happens next! I give this book 4/5 stars.
About the Author
Stephanie (S. J.) is a writer, knitter, amateur astrologer, Capricorn, and Japanophile. She loves foxes, owls, sushi, yoga pants, Evernote, and black tea. When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about writing or spending time outside, unless it’s winter. She hates winter. Someday she’ll own a house in both hemispheres so she can avoid the season entirely. She’s a mom to two great kids and lives with her husband and family outside NYC. They have no pets. Yet. When it comes to her work, expect the unexpected. She doesn’t write anything typical.