I will say that before I got this book I was so worried that it would let me down because of the hype. I have been waiting for this book since this summer, and when it arrived in the mail could not wait to read it. Once, I started it...I wasn't sure if I would like it. However, I kept on reading and let me tell you something...It DID NOT disappoint as much as I thought. Now, before I go any further in my review I should let you know two things.1) I don't know much in terms of Japanese Culture, language, or mythology. So, my opinion on the world building is this: I thought he did a great job. I know some people will think he is trying to rip off an "exotic" culture, but I liked that it was different. From what I can see, it looks like he cared about this book. Bravo Mr. Kristoff. Bravo. 2) Now, I've read some of the reviews from people who were lucky enough (or maybe in their opinion unlucky enough) to have read this book in advance. Most of the people who didn't like it had problems with his writing style, or the fact that at times he does dump a bit too much on the reader when it comes to description. At first, it's a bit hard because there are so many terms being thrown out and you have to look up what the terms mean in the glossary at the back of the book. Although, I will say as you read on this isn't such a big problem. In fact, the beginning is the worst--just hold out. It does get better! He likes descriptions, if you're not a huge fan of descriptive writing--then maybe you might want to back off on this one. Overall, this is a good book. However, why did I not rate it five stars?Personally, I think he overwhelmed the reader in the very beginning. There was a lot going on from the tattoos, to the clothing, to the religion. It was all thrown at you so fast, instead of learning about it over the course of the book (which does still happen however it came off a bit strong). It almost made me want to stop reading, but I kept on till the last page.What else can be said?YukikoShe is a great heroine. Why? She's a strong, well rounded female teenage character who can look out for herself and SHOWS emotion. I have a problem with strong female characters that tend to act like they can do it all and show no emotion. Yukiko does, she's human and has faults. I just want to say that impresses me more than it should.However the best part of this book is between Yukiko and Buruu, you should just read this book just because of this.Despite all the other awesome things going on from the plot that I couldn't predict at any moment, the interesting side characters, and the Kenning Yukiko has there seems to be some underlying political statements being made about global warming here and industrialization. I'm not going to say much on that front, but I thought it was a bit interesting.This was a good read, a bit of a slow start but then it speeds up. I'm glad I read this book and was not dissapointed (a bit worried in the beginning though).