Friday, March 2, 2012

Review: Go No Sen by Jacques Antoine

I received this novel from the author(through Making Connections on Goodreads) in exchange for an honest review

Go No SenIn ancient Greece, one spoke of tolma, the daring that holds itself in reserve, that endures. There is more than one way to control the outcome of a conflict. The one who endures, in not simply seizing the initiative, also dares. The most famous instance of one who dares by holding himself in reserve is the resourceful wanderer, the hero Odysseus.

Sen, in Japanese, the initiative: it can be taken up in more than one way. In holding oneself in reserve, one seizes the initiative hidden within the opponent's attack. This is called Go No Sen.

Emily Kane, 17, high school student, martial artist--when her family is shattered by covert operatives who attack their home, they go into hiding, but she refuses. She insists on staying behind, staying in school, confronting the people who attacked her family. She will do what it takes to wrest control of her life from the people seeking to destroy her. 

Genre:YA Action Adventure
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

This story had so much potential with an action adventure plot line, but it was too hard to become invested in the characters and story. The story starts with little interaction between characters while we are delivered an incredible amount of history right up front. We aren't left to guess, which I much prefer to be slowly acclimatized to the back-story throughout. 

At the beginning of the story, the readers are given an impression of Emily preferring to spend time alone, almost coming off too good for friends because they don't understand how to achieve sen while she does. Then she undergoes a transformation, cutting her hair, wearing new clothes and instantly surrounding herself with a group of friends. For me, the change was too dramatic, too quickly. I understand the change, but like the back-story, it should have been brought to attention in layers instead of instantaneously. 

The emotions were left empty. As Emily experienced grief and joy we were simply told about it, never brought into the emotions to experience them with her. The manner in which Go No Sen was constructed had no power or hold, it was hard to keep focus. The sentences didn't have a flow, they were mostly short, choppy sentences that left me frustrated with the imagery being broken up adding to the lack of feelings. There was also an overuse of exclamation marks, again personal preference, but I felt that the story would have been the same without them. 

The author does have exceptional knowledge of different types of martial arts as we are taken through move-by-move of each fight and the training at the dojo. I also greatly appreciated the different point-of-views scattered within the book. Like I said, this story had potential, I was excited to read an action adventure with a female protagonist, but was highly disappointed.

Go No Sen is currently available at AmazonBarnes & Noble and Smashwords 


  1. Thanks for the review, Julie. It's good to hear honest, smart feedback. I'm glad you liked the shifts in POV. I wasn't sure how that would come across. I'm thinking over your thoughts about Emily's emotional development.

    1. The shifts in POV were perfect, it really allowed the reader to get a solid feel of everything that was happening.

      I sometimes feel finicky, but always try to be as honest as possible :)