It feels even longer since I wrote a Netgalley review than a regular review. I’m hoping that this turns out well, but if any links aren’t working please let me know in the comments! I would really appreciate it!
Iron Widow is proclaimed as Pacific Rim meets Handmaid’s Tale and from what I read it’s a story about a girl getting vengeance for her murdered Big Sister and getting into a lot of trouble along the way. First in a series written by Xiran Jay Zhao. It’s Chinese history and mecha science fiction for YA readers, from what Penguin Books says. This book blew me away, though it took me a bit before I was hooked and grabbed it left me wanting more.
Book Title: Iron Widow
Book Author: Xiran Jay Zhao
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Series: Book One
Page Count: 400
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.
I actually started writing notes at a quarter of the way through the book. It was intense reading (and I had no idea it was 400 pages, it flew by fast!) But I still loved it. I did have my issues with the book, but it thankfully came with trigger warnings listed at the front! (I wish more authors would do this!)
Trigger Warnings: misogyny and femicide, rape mentioned, physical and emotional abuse, suicidal ideation, alcoholism, blood and gore, murder, torture, torture of a child
This is not a book for the faint hearted or those easily offended.
Wu Zitan is a girl fixing to go off to war for her family, as she has no desire to be married. She also doesn’t want to die but it’s common knowledge that girls don’t live long upon serving the men in the army. Wu Zitan is only going so that she can get vengeance for her Big Sister who was killed recently. (Unsure if this is a SPOILER) she succeeds… and falls into worse trouble.
I loved Wu Zitan’s character. She was strong willed despite shit after shit flung at her, and she still triumphed against all odds though that cliffhanger was definitely not what I saw coming. I had suspicions for something else entirely but it’s nice to be surprised. I liked that there wasn’t a love triangle. I won’t say anything because I don’t want too many spoilers. But I’m happy for how the relationship turned out. The books cliffhanger is still frustrating and I need the second book. I can’t begin to rate this highly enough but I believe it’s earned it’s rating!
My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of the book. I definitely look forward to the sequel!
Until next time,
-Pass Me That Book