The Poppy War is truly on a league of its own. From amazing character development to moments that just tear your heart out, this book has and excels in everything. 16-year old Rin Fang hates her life. She’s an orphan who is fostered by the worst people, worked to the bone, and is planned to be sold to a man thrice her age. So, to fight her fate, she studies hard for a test called the Keju. People all over the country spend their entire lives studying for this and Rin only has two years to catch up. Only the top fifty in the country get accepted, and against all odds, Rin scores first out of her entire province.
This is a book about war and its atrocities. A lot of the chapters in the book aren’t very pretty, in fact, there were a lot of moments where I had to skim those parts because I just felt so uncomfortable reading and visualizing the events in my head. Don’t get me wrong though, this was such an amazing book and it is hands down one of my favorite reads this year. Like the author says, this is kind of a more-fucked-up-and-darker ATLA.
It was really interesting seeing Rin slowly lose her humanity throughout the book. And that really shows you how war is the furthest thing from cool. It also really helps that this is a Chinese-inspired fantasy because I’ve never really come across a book that totally embraced my culture. Warning though, this book has major trigger and content warnings for war themes, drug use, self-harm, racism, genocide, rape, mutilation, human experimentations and basically every heinous action done to show power. The Poppy War is based on the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Rape of Nanking, so if you wanna know how dark this book can get, you can read up on those two events.
Overall, I really really loved this novel. Probably my favorite 2018 read. This is not a book to be missed.
Title: The Poppy War (The Poppy War #1)
Author: R.F. Kuang
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
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