Title / The Poppy War
Author / R. F. Kuang
Publication Date / 2018
Series or standalone / book 1 of a trilogy
Page no. / 544
Overall Rating / ★★
Goodreads synopsis: A powerful epic fantasy novel with roots in the 20th-century history of China. A brilliantly imaginative talent makes her exciting debut with this epic historical military fantasy, inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century and filled with treachery and magic, in the tradition of Ken Liu’s Grace of Kings and N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy.
This was one of my anticipated releases of this year; unfortunately this one just didn’t work for me. It sounded like something I’d love as it is inspired by East Asian and has a focus on military strategy but somewhere in the execution it fell flat for me. In some ways it read like a YA book to me but from the content I would say that this is more aimed at adults. This book is not for the faint hearted; it contains violence, rape, self-harm, genital mutilation and drug abuse to name a few things. This is a dark book and it doesn’t pull any punches, so be aware of that going into it. I think the military elements of this book was well done and the world building is good. I never felt bogged down by the information provided and I enjoyed finding out more about this world.
I think the main issue I had was with the characters. Yes they are well written but I wasn’t invested in them and consequently felt detached from the story. One thing that bugged me was that Rin picked things up so quickly, despite the fact that she started of with very little training. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it frustrated me in this book. I get it, she works hard but I just can’t get my head around how she does it so quickly and it’s suggested that no one has picked things up as fast as she has. Cue my eye rolling. I just can’t quite get my head around it. In general I think the characters were lacking a little depth and were a little inconsistent. For example one relationship changes from hate to like seemingly very quickly. I know there is a war occurring in this book and this might offer some perspective on grudges but the hate seemed so deeply embedded I don’t understand how this relationship shifted. Despite this I think that generally the characters were well written and I think the author did a good job at developing the characters throughout the darker parts of this book.
Overall this was a good book but one that didn’t work for me personally. There are a lot of great aspects to this book, like the military setting and the world, but as a whole I didn’t love this as much as I’d hoped. I would still recommend checking this out as I think this will be loved by many and I’ve already seen a ton of five star reviews of this book. Do you plan on picking this book up? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.