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Iron Widow

de Xiran Jay Zhao

Sèrie: Iron Widow (1)

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3382261,090 (4.2)5
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Es mostren 1-5 de 21 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Start with a story fueled by righteous anger and outrage. Add in a complex plot, very interesting characters, and a girl who doesn't let convention, or other people's opinions get in the way of industrial strength revenge, then add a 'what-the-heck' ending and this is what results...A winner. ( )
  sennebec | Jan 24, 2022 |
Oh this was gooood!

Iron Widow is set in a sci-fi/ post-apocalyptic -esque world where humanity is constantly attacked by these alien thingies and humans fight them back by other thingies they create from salvaged alien husks. To pilot said thingies (I know what they're called, I just like calling them thingies) you need two pilots, one male, one female hence the whole yin and yang thing. However the society is heavily inspired by Emperial China (is that what it's called? Please correct me if I'm wrong) and thus their entire view of life is a little backwards, like yeah sure we're constantly under attack and we need every fighting citizen we can find, but not the women though, let's bind their feet so they can't even walk properly instead.
The magic/element/whatever thing was very interesting, I really enjoyed exploring it even though I got confused here and there. Hell I still can't tell the yin and yang qi apart, but it's very intriguing nonetheless and not hard to navigate and understand despite how I make it seem, I'm just ADHD.

We follow the journey of our heroine Wu Zetian, who is probably the most hate-fueled, bloodthirsty character I've ever had the pleasure of reading about! And it's not misplaced anger or not well-founded hatred, oh no! She has every right to want to tear everyone and everything apart and then some. I mean, I would be pissed too if my own grandmother broke my feet when I was 5 and condemned me to a life of teetering.
The rest of our main trio (because yes fuck love triangles where the girl has to pick one, we're taking everything now) are Yizhi and Shimin, who are as similar as day and night. One is a gentle rich city-boy and the other is a burly halfling who spent his life from one hardship to the next.
And Although I love them both, I'd still use Yizhi as a shield to protect Shimin.

Although I loved most of the things in this book, it still had its flaws.
My main issue was with the last part of the book.

The final battle felt a little too rushed but at the same time it dragged.
The whole dragon thing felt a lot like Deus Ex Machina, like oh we're losing, let me just go to this giant dragon thing that's bigger than all our enemies and wake its pilot and win this battle.
The characters suffered from a bit of what I like to call Dumb-YA-protagonist syndrome. Like, why on earth would you believe that someone who's part of the regime that has been oppressing and sacrificing you and yours, wants what's best for you?
The last revelation of the epilogue was supposed to be something shocking that leaves us as readers on the edge of our seats, and while yes it got me hyped to read the next books (I'm assuming it'll be at least a trilogy), I wasn't shocked in the slightest.
The moment the gods were mentioned I knew this whole universe of theirs had to be some sort of science experience to the aliens. But then again, I read Skyward AND The Promised Neverland so I've learned to see the signs.
I'm kinda annoyed at the discovery that baby Shimin is still alive, but at the same time I never wanted him to die so we're fine.
It's just that I'm starting to hate this "oh they're dead or are they?" thing that's been spreading lately. Let people die for god's sake!

Overall, this was a solid read and I highly recommend it. ( )
  Ray_ | Jan 19, 2022 |
This book was so exciting and I loved it. I loved a lot of different things about it, and there were only two very limited things I did not like. There was so much action and so much research (and I would expect nothing less from Xiran Jay Zhou) and such interesting characters and !!! I am so glad I stumbled across this one. Thank you, Xiran Jay Zhou, for writing a thread about historical inaccuracies in Mulan which blew up on Twitter and led to me finding your book announcement. You are very good at social media and I like your writing.

Rather than let this review go paragraphs long, I’m going to take this bullet-point style. So! Things I liked:

- Content warnings were at the beginning of the book.
- A non-historical disclosure was at the beginning of the book (Zetian is inspired by Empress Wu).
- Our protagonists are not heroes in any sense of the word.
- Love triangle that actually works (polyamorous rep!)
- Tian’s anger through the book never subsides.
- There is an actual, in-story reason why Tian and Shimin reconcile so quickly and it makes sense.
- When Xiran Jay Zhou writes about unpleasant things, they do not hold back.
- The characters never feel the need to explain themselves and I kind of loved that.
- The physically intimate scenes were tasteful and non-intrusive. Way too much YA lets romance overthrow the plot, but not this book!
- The writing balances description, dialogue, and action really well. It’s a debut, but doesn’t feel like your traditional “they’re still learning” debut. This book is polished and ready to go.
- The chapters are short so it’s easier to find a place to take a break, assuming you’re not so sucked in that you binge read the whole thing, which would be very possible.
- I appreciated the world and setting – it’s an Asian-inspired fantasy/sci-fi/action book and it feels both extremely original and yet somewhat familiar. Anime fans should love it. And for the rest of us, it’s a refreshingly different read.
- There were multiple twists at the end I definitely didn’t see coming.

Those are a few of the reasons Iron Widow is such a compelling novel and why I enjoyed it utterly. I really liked Tian, Shimin, and Yishi. Even Sima Yi, who had his own growth arc, was interesting to watch. I’m struggling to pull together eloquent, comprehensive thoughts about Iron Widow because I genuinely liked it so much. I liked how there was dark revenge and murders early in the book – an author not afraid to make things messy is my favorite kind of author. While I didn’t like the interactions between Tian and so many of the other male characters, I can appreciate their necessity in painting a picture of exactly how misogynistic this society is (answer: very, very, very).

And I genuinely, genuinely liked the romantic relationship in Iron Widow. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with polyamorous rep before, and I am not polyamorous myself so I can’t speak to its accuracy, but I felt it was respectfully executed. To get a real feel for the success of both the polyamorous and Asian rep, please seek out reviews from those communities!

I do have a couple small criticisms, but they are quite small. Every once in a while I’d come across a paragraph while reading that seemed so out of place, almost like it was written by a different person. The voice was slightly different, or modern-sounding dialogue would pop up, and it would briefly shatter the illusion. It really didn’t happen often – twice specifically I recall shaking my head like “wait, what happened to the voice?” – but I did happen.

My second criticism would be the speed at which things changed regarding Shimin. Not his relationship with Tian – that made since as they were in one another’s heads and that breeds empathy. Rather, most of his struggle to overcome his addiction as well as the love story between Shimin and Yishi felt rushed. The pace at the end of the book in general picked up quite a lot, and I’ll credit this to be part of the problem. As a reader, I’d have liked to see more gradual development for Li Shimin, but it was not so fast that it made his character unenjoyable.

My friends, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Iron Widow and giving it a try. Xiran Jay Zhou will transport you to another world, then they will ruthless batter your heart. It’s delightful. ( )
  Morteana | Jan 16, 2022 |
Aliens have invaded the planet. For two hundred years humans have been battling the Hundun, using the spirit metal from their defeated enemies the humans have fashioned their own Chrysalises, giant robots, Mecha fueled by the pilots’ qi that that fuses their life force with that of the robots. It takes two to pilot a Chrysalis, a young male and his female concubine. Sometimes, to win, the concubine’s qi must be separated from her body, as a result she dies, but the battle is won for humanity, so it is a noble sacrifice.

When Wu Zetian the younger sister of one of the sacrificial victims, signs up to battle the Hundun, she is hoping to avenge her older sister by killing—not Hundun, but the male pilot who killed her sister. If she succeeds, she will be what’s known, but only to the strategists running the war, as an Iron Widow. A female whose qi is able to overcome that of the male pilot, so he becomes the one sacrificed. The public is not to know that this is possible. It would upset the social order which is based on a rigid patriarchy.

This is a dark fantasy of deceit, deception, disinformation, misogyny, betrayal, retribution, and revenge. An action and gore filled military adventure novel stuffed full of satisfying Sturm und Drang, and even some gruesome Shadenfreude to delight Riot Grrrls everywhere, as well as teens of all ages, sexes, sexual orientations feeling downtrodden by authority everywhere. It’s also filled with plot twists designed to twist the psyche and use the shock to raise consciousness.

"Humans...scourge of the universe..." … I drag my nails down my head and scream. Page 391

Contrary to the hype, this is not “Pacific Rim” meets The Handmaid's Tale. This is The Count of Monte Cristo slams into Ender’s Game. ( )
  MaowangVater | Jan 10, 2022 |
Entertaining, a bit more YA fantasy than SF and a drawn-out final battle with irritating set-up for a second book but still enjoyable. ( )
  SChant | Jan 6, 2022 |
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Mitjana: (4.2)
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2 2
3 6
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