Iron Widow (Iron Widow #1)

Xiran Jay Zhao. Penguin Teen, $17.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-7352-6993-4
In Huaxia, a Chinese-influenced futuristic civilization, Col. Yang Guang, 19 and “one of the most powerful pilots alive,” channels his qi through his Chrysalis, the Nine-Tailed Fox, a war machine designed to fight the Hunduns, mecha-alien “invaders from the cosmos who’d pulverized the height of human civilization some two thousand years ago and shattered humanity into scattered tribes.” Protecting the human world, however, comes at the expense of concubines who pair with pilots, devoting their life force to the battle and often dying in the process. Then mountain villager Zetian Wu, 18, is selected as Yang’s new partner. When an unexpected battle outcome shatters Yang’s future, Zetian must carefully navigate alliances—including one with a brutal murderer—as well as newfound power, political machinations, love, and more. Zhao combines allusions to modern Chinese issues, such as the marriage crisis, with ancient practices and beliefs, including footbinding, elements and qi, and yin and yang. Unfortunately, the combination of contemporary language with mixed ancient and futuristic worldbuilding often results in an uneasy meld, amplified by an uneven narrative voice. Still, this duology opener will appeal to those seeking high-energy, feminist, queer narratives. Ages 14–up Agent: Rachel Brooks, BookEnds Literary. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 10/14/2021
Release date: 09/21/2021
Genre: Children's
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