Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
My Rating: 5 stars
Cover Rating: 10/10 it’s beautiful and it’s perfect for this novel. It’s stunning.
Publisher: Penguin Teen
Publish Date: September 21st, 2021
Number of Pages: 391
Received: My partner bought me a physical copy and I got a e-arc copy a long time ago in exchange for an honest review.
An instant #1 New York Times bestseller!
Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid’s Tale in this blend of Chinese history and mecha science fiction for YA readers.
The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.
When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.
To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.
Opening Sentence: “The Hunduns were coming.”
*disclaimer I finished reading this book back in December of 2021. Why I took so long to review this book? I don’t know. It is appalling how long I’ve waited to write this. However I’m here now and I’m going to write this the best I can. Thank you for your understanding*
With the consideration of the fact that I read this so long ago, the fact that I remember so much of this book speaks volumes to how good it is. I remember Zetian being such a strong character who rebelled fiercely against the ways of being that Huaxia puts into place. She is strong willed and defiant and I loved her for it.
I loved the way that mechs worked in such a unique fashion with a forced power dynamic between men and woman’s qi where one can overpower and sacrifice another in order to power the mechs. It’s brutal and Zetian is out for revenge after her sister was killed and sacrificed by a male pilot in a mech battle.
Zetian learns how far she can push and how she can stay true to herself even when she’s pushed into a corner. What I love most about this book is Zetian is a strong woman who continually is herself. In love, in a battle, in a situation where she was forced and taken advantage of, in her own home with her family, and in her relationships. I loved to see her and the boys all fall in love. To have a true love triangle where everyone fell for one another. It was awesome.
Even in a society that had very strict rules about how things should be, each of them defiantly chose to be themselves and that is a very powerful thing. They are all strong and irreverent to the rules put before them and they shined all the more for it. Differences should be celebrated not tamed. I loved how this book shows that.
All in All: If you haven’t read Iron Widow yet, what are you doing? I may have waited way too long to write this review, but the impact this book has had on me is forever.
THANK YOU ALL FOR READING!
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