The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I will not lie. As I read through half the book, it felt like a YA fantasy with quite dark undercurrents, but then it took off as a genuine War novel that never let up on the grim.
No problem. Hell, I really enjoyed the very Chinese feel to it with all its inherent province racism, meritocracy tests, and very in-your-face reliance on Poppies to keep a population in line. It laid a great foundation for a rigid and fatalistic world-building and the rest is all up to the MC and the changes she undergoes.
From being married off to an old man to a rising star in the military school to the vast unburdening of hopes and dreams that follow once she's embroiled in combat, the tale only grows darker from there.
You think this is just about addicts on the battlefront? Or a war about the production and distribution of heroin? No. It's a pure epic fantasy that has gods and vengeance and a sharp eye to strategy and tactics. What seems like love is just fuel for the fire to come. :)
The novel is more than solid. It's nearly as breathtaking as the end in The Traitor Baru Cormorant. No spoilers, but the end is not that traditional. :)
I really enjoyed this and I will absolutely be looking forward to the next. :)
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