As I promised I am back and this time I will be talking about a book that completely blew my mind: The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang.
I know that at first the title of the book might seem funny as my friend Alicia have pointed out several times by now. But trust me this book is not funny but is everything you need if you love to read fantasy. In fact I did a review about this book in Spanish urging my language-mates to learn English if only to read this book.
As I have said this is a fantasy book and I think it will be the perfect read for all the Brandon Sanderson lovers as well as for all the Patrick Rothfuss lovers. And this is the point of the review in which if you have been following the blog for a while you will definitely know that I am not messing about how amazing The Poppy War is: The Name of the Wind if my all-time-favourite book and if I say something is good compare to it, I really mean it. Nevertheless R.F.Kuang has a voice on her own and created and amazing story.
In this story we meet Rin a war orphan that lives with a foster family. Her foster parents are opium dealers and all that Rin wants is to leave that live, more so when she is told she will be married within 2 years. To escape she prepares and studies in order to enter Sinegard the most prestigious and the most difficult academy to be admitted in. and she manages to past the test and have a grade good enough to escape from her former life but Siniegard will prove to be harder than expected and she will constantly be in the line. Still, Rin will manage to discover forgotten rituals and martial arts as well as another set of very practical skills for war. And I cannot give you further details because I want you guys to discover the book and felt for it as I have.
I think that by now, you must have already gathered that I fu****g love this book. But I want to tell all the reasons why so you will feel the need to read it (if you haven’t already).
I believe that I should start by talking about Rin. She is a wonderful protagonist and SHE IS FEMALE. There are tons of fantasies with female character as leadings but none of them is as amazing as Rin is (I am sorry Celaena and Vin, Nina, Inej…). Rin is one of those characters that is different from the rest and is not just because the author says so: Rin is truly unique. Ok she is poor and comes from a hard back ground, but she is not the typical chosen one. Rin is smart but things do not come in a silver plate for her; she works really hard to get what she wants and that, is something that I have absolutely adored. She wanted to get into the most difficult school to get in and she worked her ass to get in. Once she is in the school, she realises that she is behind her classmates in martial arts and she does everything she can to be at their level trying even to become better than them. How often have you seen a character that has to work hard to get what they want? That I can recall I have never ever seen a hardworking character and I appreciate that we finally get one. I relate more to her than any other, certainly I have not gotten my University Degree by sleeping all day long. And the aspect that I have probably enjoyed the most about her is that she is not perfect; for instance, morally she is quite ambiguous but reacts certainly as most of us would. I have love to seen how she evolves throughout the story.
The rest of the cast is also remarkable. All the characters are so real and well portrayed. There is no a single character that you feel like 1 dimensional all of them felt real. You like some of them better than others but that is in your personal preferences with regard to people. I have particularly enjoyed reading about Jiang, he reminded me so much of my school philosophy teacher.
I have really enjoyed how society is reflected upon. The story is based in the first years of the 20th Century and of course some things are very different but most is so actual and applicable. Racism and classism is treated in the most intelligent way I have ever read and I am amused about genocide is presented in such realistic way.
Besides that, drug used is discussed. There is the use of opium as just a merely drug and then there is the magical use of it. Those are very well differentiated within the book and I am astonished about how the way in which the characters see the opium thought out the book changes as it goes, depending on which part of the story you are in and how things are not completely black or white. In fact this book has a lot of moral aspects that are opposing and at some point in the story seem correct or not.
The world building was extraordinary. I do read a ton of fantasy as many of you will know by now. Most of that fantasy follows a pretty similar structure and it´s based on Medieval Europe. This book is based in 20th Century China and that was highly refreshing. It was very interesting to see the contrast between the rural and the urban areas and how there is a huge cultural shock because of that for Rin. I think I can safely say that the author did a remarkable investigation job about the period before writing the book. Still is a fantasy and there are differences with reality.
What I think is the most interesting part about the world build about this book is that there is a chapter that is based in the Rape of Nakin an historical event that I myself wasn’t aware about. And when talking with some friends, that are very passionate of history, as well they didn’t know about it either. After reading the book I did some research and I do not want to believe that there has been such evil in the world. The chapter I am talking about is very graphical in fact all the book is. There are many trigger warnings, such as rape, self-harm, suicide and general violence.
As I have just said the book is very violent but the violence is necessary for the story. It´s a story about war and we are following a soldier. The author is just presenting thing as there are and not sugar coding them for the reader. I loved the book but I do understand that is not the perfect read for everyone.
Regarding the writing style I did enjoyed immensely. It is very efficient and not to poetic (and I am someone who loves poetic writing). It´s just what the story needs.
The plot goes perfectly everything happens when it has to. The plot is not rush but it never comes to a pint in which you feel bored because you are for too long in one point of the story. We discover the world as Rin does, because being form the south she is almost as blind as we are when we first enter the narration. The rhythm in with the story is told is simply brilliant giving the little drops that are needed when they are need them to not be dehydrated but leaving us thirsty still, and makes the plot way bigger than any of you could possible imagine.
Overall I think that this books deserves 5 out of 5 stars because is a story told in a very intelligent way and the amount of moral and actual topics that discuss. This is going to be in my top 18 of 2018 for sure and most likely in the top 3. My copy have gone straight to the Favourites shelve in my room. I wish I have written this book, but as I haven’t I thank miss R.F. Kuang for writing such masterpiece.
See you all in my next post!