Mini Review: The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

A Foreword

It’s been a real struggle for me to process my thoughts for The Poppy War. And after thinking more about it, I don’t think I can fairly give this book a rating. This book has been in my collection for a year now already. I’ve been slowly trying to get through my TBR books by the date that I bought it. My first mistake with this book was not revisiting the synopsis and length of the book. I also started this book right after reading another 500 plus page book all during the final month of my second year of teaching. Let’s just say that the conditions were not optimal for reading.

The Mini Review

Normally, I include the book synopsis from Goodreads or the publisher, but I’ll just link to it here because it’s super long.

I’ll start off with what I liked. The Poppy War is divided into three parts, and I was really digging the first part. The story had a great momentum and I thought all the characters were interesting. I also got major Harry Potter vibes during Rin’s time at the military school, Sinegard. The competition and conflict between the students was interesting. There was even entertaining tension between the faculty.

One of the major things that got me was the world building. I trudged through the heavy inclusion of the history, politics, and military strategy that was included in the story. I started losing steam at about halfway though the book. Once part two came around and the war started, I had a really hard time. There is a new setting with a whole almost new cast of characters. The blend of shamanism, gods, and war was too much for me.

The Historical Part

It wasn’t until I started writing this review that I learned that the book had major inspiration from actual events in history and East Asian culture. I know very little about the historical context that the author has drawn from. This post over at Read by Tiffany’s blog introduced me to the many aspects of Asian history that is included in The Poppy War and was really helpful in unpacking my thoughts on the book. It probably would have been easier for me as a reader to have a book that is either an epic fantasy OR an epic historical fiction. I feel like it is a lost opportunity to create a story that explores the historical aspect in a more realistic manner.

In the end, this book (and probably the rest of the trilogy) just aren’t for me. There are so many readers who were just blown away by this book. And I am sure that there are still plenty of other readers out there who will love it just as much. **Ends rambling** 😵‍💫

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear what you thought.


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