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A Darkly Beating Heart


A Darkly Beating Heart

I love Japanese culture. It's truly amazing. I am an anime fan (Otaku) to the max. That's why this book caught my eye. It's about Japan --- old-time-y Japan, to be specific. 
The story takes place in the life of a girl named Reiko as she visits her uncle in Japan during an internship at his design company. Sadly, her cousin drags her along to do lame idoru (Idol) things in a tiny town with a mysterious past. Reiko is dragged into the past (I'm not sure which time period in Japan. Before Meiji, that's all I know) and takes the place of a demure Japanese girl. Both girls have one thing in common: revenge. But how might it occur? Only time will tell.
Reiko's past was very interesting. At first, it seems small --- maybe she was dumped or expelled from her school. She seems to be making things way too confusing. I didn't truly believe her motivations, but her past was interesting and I wanted to know more about it. Why did she do that because of a vengeful ex-girlfriend/summer-fling? What did Chloe do exactly? I want to see the proof. Some art or something. (That'd be cool. To have art woven in with every section or so.)
"Overall, this book is good for fans of supernatural stories and revenge tales. Especially for people who have an interest in anime or Japanese culture."
The descriptions were outstanding. They were so vivid, I felt as if I was right there. I loved how Lindsay Smith wove the reader into this world. I felt as if I was right there in Japan. I'd love to be at the festival, to see all the supporters of the emperors and their little hide-y holes. Wouldn't it be nice to visit Japan and see the things Reiko saw? Traditional Japanese shrines and little ryokan. Ah, I'd love that. I really would. Makes me want to go to Japan right now. 
If you're anything like me, you'll probably love Jiro a little bit. Sure, he was kind of ambiguous at the end, but he was fine in the beginning. I'd like a sweet samurai like that (Also, that sounds like an otome game.) He had a very good personality. He was kind and caring. He truly seemed to care. 
Which makes me hate what happened next. It made me feel sorry for Reiko, who is basically a little ball of hate --- and not even the cool, anti-hero type. (I couldn't stand her most of the time. She was just so...angsty.) 
Honestly, though, the concept was a little disappointing in action, though. The supernatural elements were tangled up. So much seemed to be happening. I got confused halfway through. Who was who? What was what? The powers seemed to meld together in a mixture of supernatural-ness. I know the author aimed to have a mix of powers to emphasize fantastical elements, but time travel seems like a good start to me. 
I also really didn't like the mixing of current day and old Japan. The switching back and forth was confusing. I was always questioning which setting I was in. And I don't know why there was the switch between time periods. Staying in Old Time-y Japan is perfectly fine with me. It does take more research, but it is more interesting for people like me. I do like present day, but kimonos and conspiracy are way better. 
Overall, this book is good for fans of supernatural stories and revenge tales. Especially for people who have an interest in anime or Japanese culture.

Reviewed by Wren L., Teen Board Member on November 9, 2016

A Darkly Beating Heart
by Lindsay Smith

  • Publication Date: October 25, 2016
  • Genres: Fiction, Young Adult 12+
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • ISBN-10: 1626720444
  • ISBN-13: 9781626720442