Thursday, January 31, 2019

Review of The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang

Read for: TBR/ Beat the Back List/ Audio

Synopsis: "When Rin aced the Keju, the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies, it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard, the most elite military school in Nikan, was even more surprising.
But surprises aren’t always good.
Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.
For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .
Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late."

My Review: I have been seeing people raving about this book for about a year now, so I finally decided to pick it up. I chose to listen to the audio book while reading the ebook, I knew I would struggle with names and pronunciations in this one so the audio book really helped. I really enjoyed the first part of the book as Rin's determination comes out and she strives to succeed in all the challenges presented to her both for entering the school and within the school. I did find that the later part of the book wasn't as engrossing for me, Rin becomes not as sure of herself or of what is the right path to take, her moral compass seems to go for a bit of a spin as she is pulled from one leadership to another in battle. I am still intrigued with where the story will lead but I am finding that I don't have to read the second book right now. Just to give fair warning, this is a very dark book, some very gruesome scenes of battles and the after, it often involves women and children.

Note: This is definitely an adult Fantasy, if you have issues at all with violent and despicable things be forewarned nearly all triggers are contained in this one.  It is a dark fantasy and not for the faint of heart, remember it is fiction and no one is making you read it, if you have an issue with it don't read it or put it down. (okay enough of my rant that goes way beyond this book)

My Rating: As I said above, this book really had two different tones, I really loved the first half or so of the book but the second half dissolves when faced with the trials of war and difficult decisions about other's lives. I enjoyed it but it lost some of its appeal to me in the second half.  I may continue with the second book but it doesn't rank super high priority for me.  I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the warning. I don't think I could handle this book. I get very squeamish when women and children are involved.