The Poppy War

The Poppy War

eBook - 2018
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A war orphan rises from her humble beginnings to become a powerful military commander, and perhaps her country's only hope for survival.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Harper Voyager, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2018]
ISBN: 9780062662590
Characteristics: text file, rda
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc. - Distributor

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Sep 06, 2020

This is a heartbreaking, gut wrenching, and mind blowing fantasy/alternate history of China in the early 20th century that conflates the opium wars and the Japanese invasion. At the center is Fang "Rin" Ronin, a war orphan who wants to escape from the dead-end south via a scholarship to the prestigious military academy. Little does she know she'll be introduced to the world of shamanism -- and vengeance for a long-dead civilization. Worth a read for anyone interested in this period of history as it poses uncomfortable questions about morality in time of war.

Jan 17, 2020

Wow! What a phenomenal debut novel! Rin is an engaging, motivated protagonist and Altan is a powerful, mystical, complex supporting character. The magic system is creative and vivid. The fantasy setting perfectly evokes Southeast Asia (specifically China and Japan). The story goals and motivations are interesting and dynamic. An absolute treasure to read. My favourite new book.

Hillsboro_RobP Nov 25, 2019

Kuang's novel begins to struggle once the protagonist has moved away from school, where the tension, conflict and goals are all clear. As the plot gets murkier, the war gets bloodier and bloodier but not in a way that facilitates the action or brings a personal connection into the story for the reader. It's shocking, but The Poppy War fails to answer the big question: why should the reader invest in this?

It's not a bad book, but it really makes me appreciate the genius of The Traitor Baru Cormorant which manages to be a smarter novel all around while working with similar protagonists and a few similar themes. In the end, Poppy War is missing excitement and empathy but still uses its historical and cultural ties effectively. A good choice to diverge from typical fantasy settings and enter a world based on Chinese history and myth, despite the book's flaws.

Aug 30, 2019

Réservé à la Bibliothèque de Gatineau

Aug 23, 2019

I gave in to the hype and checked this book out. I kept turning the pages, hoping that it would just get better. But it never really did. The main character acts like a spoiled brat, who thinks she knows better than anyone else. So annoying. But if you like reading about an empowered female teenager, then go for it. I hate kid characters who take over the adult world. How probable is it really that a group of teenagers kills plenty of experienced soldiers?

What I did enjoy was the mythical portion of the book, in which we learned about different gods. But that could have been described in a chapter.

Apr 26, 2019

This is a richly imagined fantasy that draws upon a (roughly) 19th century Asia as its backdrop and parallels the wars between China and Japan, renamed Nikara and Mugen respectively. It’s a coming-of-age tale about a courageous orphan who must learn how to channel the power of the spirit world and accept the consequences. The story is divided into three parts, each of such different tenor as to be almost different books, all hard to put down. Part 1 is a delightful read about the innocence of youth preparing for war. Part 2 begins a descent into the darkness of war. Part 3 is a horrific tale of atrocities, genocide, and rage, likely based on the Sacking of Nanking. War is dehumanizing and there is no honour. The shocking ending sets the stage for a sequel.

Mar 19, 2019

Nominated for Nebula Awards 2019

JCLBetM Nov 20, 2018

I wanted to like this so much more. Clever female warrior protagonist? Sign me up! The world and plot were interesting (though sometimes slow), but somehow every time I thought I was supposed to feel something my heart was unmoved--and my heart is always ready to be moved. Yet I was left only mentally rooting for the story. It's still worth reading just for a new female-led flavor of this type of story. I'm hoping that somehow the author imbues her sequel(s) with whatever is necessary to lift the characters off the page into the literary world of real-(though-of course--not-real) that'll make me care about everything happening to them.

JessicaGma Aug 27, 2018

The world-building is complex and there are some great plot twists in this story. Rin was making some bad decisions in her quest to fulfill her destiny, and I hope this continues on, as I need some more closure as to what Rin does next. If not, it's a good study of whether revenge is a good thing to pursue. or if it causes more issues and should be left to the universe.

Aug 03, 2018

I was amazed this book was written by a first-time author. It's a fast-paced action fantasy that tries to deal with some big themes. A good read and pretty hard to put down.

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Add Notices
Sep 12, 2018

Sexual Content: Rape

Sep 12, 2018

Violence: Descriptive Violence Selfharm

May 16, 2018

Sexual Content: References to off-page sexual assault

May 16, 2018

Violence: War and genocide

May 16, 2018

Coarse Language: Liberal use of the word "fuck"


Add Age Suitability
Apr 13, 2020

red_tiger_2354 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

CoreneBee May 14, 2018

CoreneBee thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over


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May 16, 2018

Rin is a war orphan, being raised by the Fang family only because the government has mandated that families adopt such children, and because they find it convenient to use her to help them in their drug smuggling business. Living in the deep rural south of the Nikara Empire, Rin dreams of passing the Keju exam, and traveling north to study at one of the empire’s elite schools. But when her hard work pays off and she tests into Sinegard, the top military academy in the country, Rin discovers that her trials are only beginning. Sinegard’s military and political elite have little time or sympathy for a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south. Desperate to prove herself, Rin unlocks a supposedly mythical power that enables her to summon the strength of the gods. Even as she is further alienated from her teachers and classmates, she becomes the protégé of an eccentric master who has taken no other apprentices from her class. But Master Jiang wants Rin to learn to control and suppress her abilities, while Rin dreams of wielding them in battle for the glory of the Empire. And with the Empire constantly on the brink of the next war with the Mugen Federation, it becomes increasingly difficult to heed her Master’s advice and resist the call of the Phoenix, god of fire and vengeance.


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May 16, 2018

The Keju is a ruse to keep uneducated peasants right where they’ve always been. You slip past the Keju, they’ll find a way to expel you anyway. The Keju keeps the lower classes sedated. It keeps us dreaming. It’s not a ladder for mobility; it’s a way to keep people like me exactly where they were born. The Keju is a drug.

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