I'll be honest, I'm prejudiced against male authors writing female protagonists. I often find the heroines too pragmatic cold and emotionless (there are exceptions, [a:Brandon Sanderson|38550|Brandon Sanderson|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1394044556p2/38550.jpg] is a good example of an author that writes wonderful women, and there are many more). This, and the fact that this book has very mixed reviews had me hesitating to read it since it first came out...Boy, was I being silly.
I could describe this book and its author in one word: Genius.
The world building is rich, complex, and original. The characters are developed to the point where you feel a close personal connection with each. While the basic story-line is not the most original I've ever read, there were so many original aspects it made up for this (to be honest, I loved the storyline so, so much). The only thing was the book started off a little slow, it took until Yukiko and her griffin "met" (I use this term very loosely) to really suck me in.
Basically, finds like this is why I read :)