Friday, May 17, 2013

Book Review: "The Gods of Heavenly Punishment" by Jennifer Cody Epstein

The Gods of Heavenly Punishment Jennifer Epstein Cody
Published: March 11, 2013
ISBN-10: 039307157X
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours

In this evocative and thrilling epic novel, fifteen-year-old Yoshi Kobayashi, child of Japan's New Empire, daughter of an ardent expansionist and a mother with a haunting past, is on her way home on a March night when American bombers shower her city with napalm--an attack that leaves on hundred thousand dead within hours and half the city in ashen ruins.  In the days that follow, Yoshi's old life will blur beyond recognition, leading her to a new world marked by destruction and shaped by those considered the enemy: Cam, a downed bomber pilot taken prisoner by the Imperial Japanese Army; Anton, a gifted architect who helped modernize Tokyo's prewar skyline but is now charged with destroying it; and Billy, an Occupation soldier who arrives in the blackened city with a dark secret of his own.  Directly or indirectly, each will shape Yoshi's journey as she seeks safety, love, and redemption.

My thoughts:
I had great expectations for this book.  There are not that many books, at least not that many that I've come across that tell of World War II from the Japanese perspective.  And the book starts out strong, giving us a tableau of the world from which Yoshi hails.  However, it is right after this first chapter that the book starts to fall off the rails for me.  We meet Cam and Lacy, a young couple from New York, who don't really seem to have anything to do with Yoshi.  Then, BOOM!, we're in World War II and hopping between Japan, Manchuria and the United States.  Each chapter is about a different character and, because of this, Yoshi ceases to be the main character and just becomes one in a sea of characters.

It is too bad because Epstein's writing is quite beautiful and she has a knack for creating place and character.  I did feel that the book ended strong and if she had focused the book on Billy and Yoshi--which is how she began it--this would have been a far more successful book.

Want a second opinion?  Check out some of the other stops on this tour (link goes to the website, not the specific review):

Monday, April 29th:  BookNAroundWednesday, May 1st:  Savvy Verse and Wit
Thursday, May 2nd:  Amused by Books
Monday, May 6th:  Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Tuesday, May 7th:  Overflowing Bookshelves
Wednesday, May 8th:  The Book Barista
Monday, May 13th:  Diary of an Eccentric
Tuesday, May 14th:  Patricia’s Wisdom
Wednesday, May 15th:  Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, May 16th:  Lit and Life
Monday, May 20th:  Book Dilettante
Tuesday, May 21st: The Relentless Reader
Wednesday, May 22nd: Historical Tapestry – The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
Thursday, May 23rd:  Books Speak Volumes
Tuesday, May 29th:  Fiction Addict
This review is part of a book tour by TLC Book Tours.  I received a copy of the book to read and review.  However, all opinions expressed in this review are mine and mine alone, and I received no other compensation for this review.


  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book for the tour.

  2. I really liked this book but I do see what you mean about the sea of characters. I would have been happy to read about Yoshi the entire time as well :)