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Book Review: The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang

The Dragon Republic
R.F. Kuang

Harper Voyager, 2019
★★★★★

There are some books that, while not perfect, just make you feel very strongly. I was on tenterhooks the whole time I was reading The Dragon Republic. I was so heavily invested in the characters and their relationships with one another that I really didn’t care about anything else in the book, so I easily overlooked the minor issues with pacing that may have bogged down another novel.

In The Dragon Republic, Rin finds her self dealing with the fallout of her actions at the end of The Poppy War. What this means, practically speaking, is that she is dealing guilt, or rather guilt at her lack of guilt, opium addiction, PTSD, and a a nation overrun with bitter Mugenese soldiers who have no home to return to. Then Yin Vaisra, the Dragon Warlord and Nezha’s father, strides into this mess and declares his intent to transform Nikan into a democracy, so he essentially begins to wage war against the Empress, Su Daji. Since Rin is intent on killing Su Daji, she allies herself with Vaisra.

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Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Five-Star Predictions

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the fantastic Bionic Bookworm. This week’s topic:

APRIL 24TH – Top 5 Five-Star Predictions 

This is something I’ve seen Rachel do a couple of times, and I’ve been tempted to give it a shot myself, so now that it’s a Tuesday topic I guess the universe is compelling me to go for it.


darkdawnDarkdawn by Jay Kristoff: I made no secret of just how much I absolutely adored books one and two in this series. I don’t expect that I will feel any differently about the conclusion to the trilogy, even though conclusions are often controversial. Still, at the very least I expect Kristoff will wrap up loose ends and reveal everything about Mia’s powers. I expect Kristoff’s trademark snark and twists and turns and I have no doubt it will be a wild ride from start to finish.

 

 


leah on the offbeatLeah On the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli: I’ve read two books by Albertalli, and I’ve adored both of them. There’s something about this light, contemporary style that I adore. I can usually breeze through books like this super quickly because not only are they fun and engaging, but they’ve got this nebulous quality that makes you feel right at home. Leah is the snarky, fat, bisexual heroine I’ve been waiting for, and she is, unfortunately, in love with her best friend’s girlfriend, which promises some dramatic shenanigans. Plus it’s been said we’re getting more Simon and Bram!

 


creatures of will and temperCreatures of Will and Temper by Molly Tanzer: Okay, first of all, I need y’all to understand the inordinate amount of admiration I have for this cover. Just. Look at this cover. Look at it. Look at its intricacy and detail, its classic artwork, its borders, its fonts…I just. It looks like a 19th century painting. It looks like an illustration straight out of a demonology encyclopedia. I actually just purchased this book and it arrived yesterday and I spent like ten minutes just staring at this cover because it is so beautiful. But aside from the cover, the story reads like something made for me: Victorian London, a female fencer, demons, an underground society fighting said demons. I mean. Can you say custom-made?


the poppy warThe Poppy War by R.F. Kuang: This book has been getting a lot of hype in adult fantasy circles, and rightly so! First off, the author is younger than I am, in her very early twenties, and is a 2018 Marshall Scholar. Second, though a fantasy, it deals intimately with the violence of the Sino-Japanese War, particularly an frequently forgotten event called the Rape of Nanking, which I actually wrote my undergraduate thesis about! I won’t link to information, but you can look it up if you so choose; just know that it is one of the most horrific wartime acts ever committed. The sheer brutality of it is overshadowed only by the fact that it was completely forgotten in the aftermath of the war, and to this day there are segments of Japanese society that continue to deny it ever happened. That should tell you something about what to expect from this book. All reviews coming in so far say that this is a topic that Kuang handles deftly and intelligently.


american islamophobiaAmerican Islamophobia by Khaled Beydoun: I really admire Beydoun’s work and scholarship. In particular, he’s written a lot about the odd classification of Middle Eastern and North African folks as “white” on the US Census, and the history of that and the ramifications of a potential MENA category on the 2020 census. I think he’s a brilliant and incisive scholar, and given that this book was just published a couple of weeks ago, it promises to be timely and relevant to today’s political situation.  This is generally the type of non-fiction book I tend to love. Given that I myself am Middle Eastern and come from a Muslim family, I think the book will also resonate with me on a personal level. I am so confident I will love this book that I am strongly tempted to buy it so I can have it on my shelf to highlight and make notes in.