After finishing the Dreamer’s Trilogy, I think I liked The Raven Cycle a little bit better. No disrespect to the Lynch brothers. I’m glad they were able to get their lives together but as I reading this, I sort of forgot that they were trying to stop the apocalypse from happening. Not a minor thing. I was definitely more invested in the emotional journey of Ronan, Declan, Matthew, Jordan, Hennessey and even Carmen then I was in whatever mission they were supposed to be on. It was definitely a journey. I love that these characters who have been through so much that they got the healing they needed and will be able to move on with their lives in a more healthy way. So much time of this novel was spent on their healing journey and their past that when it came time to save the world it was a little jarring. Like oh that’s right. That’s why Hennessey destroyed the Ley line. It’s why Ronan is asleep and Declan is frantic. It’s why all of them are in the state that they were in are catching up with the story. That all being said. I’m glad that this series existed because Ronan was one of my favorite characters from the Raven Cycles and I’m happy that he has got the closure he needed. It was also good to catch up with the Blue and the other Raven boys. I feel like that Maggie left a little bit open that if she wanted to pick up again with Blue and Gansey she could but if she doesn’t. The Raven Cycle and The Dreamers Trilogy were beautiful stories with characters, I’ll never forger and grateful to have spent time with.
I liked the first book so I’m excited to see where this one goes.
This series is brutal and unflinching. It is a really a brutal read. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I truly understood what I was getting into when I started this last month. It was like the one book that people on Booktok seemed to all agree was a must read. I was intrigued that it was a fantasy that was based on East Asian history. Specifically Chinese history. I am not familiar with Chinese history but I definitely recognized the parallels from 20th century China and the Japanese occupation of some areas of the country and the attempted colonization from Western Nations. The Poppy War Trilogy tackles the trauma of colonialism, war, famine, sexual assault and racism. The Poppy War follows Rin, an orphan from a poor southern province of Nikara. Her guardians try to marry her off so she decides to take the test to get into the elite military school and not only passes it, she gets the highest score in her province. This shocks everyone and instead of celebrating it, she is accused of cheating. Things don’t get much better when she arrives at Sinegard. She is looked down for her poor upbringing and dark skin. She has to fight to prove hat she belongs and it isn’t easy. The first day, she makes the enemy of Nezha, the son of the Dragon lord but also make friends with Kitay, the son of a minister to the Empress. The Mugenese, who live on the island of the coast of Nikara, who has tried twice to conquer Nikara in the Previous Poppy wars. After a couple of years at Sinegard, the Mugenese invade and Rin and her schoolmates have to go to war. Rin discovers she is a Shaman and can channel the power of the Phoenix god and summon fire. With great power there are costs and Shamans don’t always have control of her minds. She is constantly fighting to keep her own mind while wanted to have the power. She likes the power it gives her. However, coming to grips with what she can do and how it effects others is hard to always come to terms with. To be clear, Rin does some unconscionable things in this series. There are at times, I just couldn’t justify her behavior but most of the time I could. The biggest criticism, I read about her online was how unlikable she was. And yeah, she’s not so great. She’s immature, stubborn, easy to manipulate and easy to rile up but even when she starts to spiral into madness, it made sense to me. When you factor all that she has been through. All that she had to endure in such short life, it made sense why she would act this way Yes, it is hard to justify but it rang true to who she was.
As the story progresses and we go further and further into the wars, the cost of war becomes evident and devasting. War effects the poor more than it does the rich. It’s not the rich that have to flee their homes or starve. It’s not usually their woman who are raped or their man forced into service. The depictions of all these things are unflinching. There is no shying away from the brutal results of war. It can be triggering. Just as the cruel depiction of colonialism and the trauma of being erased in your own country. The Mugenese were the first enemy but other outside enemy is the Hespira, who represented Western Nations who came in wanted to take advantage of the natural resources. I appreciate how religion played a huge role in the Hespirans plans to take control because often times the role of Christianity is downplayed or unmentioned when we talk about western colonialism. The Hespirans wanted to make Nikara more “civilized” and to do that meant making them more like them and that includes converted them to their religion.
I truly loved this series but it is not for everyone. It is not for everyone. As I mentioned, it does not shy away from the graphic depiction of violence of war, towards woman. Rin is own penchant for committing violence herself is no less jarring. All of this is necessary to telling the story and if you are willing to take it all in. It is worth the ride.
Oh Ronan. What will you get up to now?
Oh Rin. I sort of feel like this an only end one way and I am not prepared.
Okay, so Booktok was right. The Poppy Wars was amazing. I didn’t know it was a series, though!! Woohoo!
For anyone who has seen Encanto will find many of the stories themes familiar. Especially from the beginning. It starts with the Matriarch of the family, Orquidea Divina invited her family back to her magical home for her death. The Montoya’s grew up in her home that always had everything they needed and they never questioned it. When they arrive, things are a miss and her death doesn’t go as planned but family pulls together to send her off. Orquidea was a complicated woman, like most people are but even more so to her family. She was a loving woman who gave all to her family but she was also very secretive and leaves the family reeling if they even knew here. Marimar, her granddaughter in particularly has some feelings about her Grandma. As does her cousins, Ray and Tatinelly. Seven years after her death, they are forced to go to Ecuador where Orquidea was born to discover her past to save their futures. Its basically a story of family trauma and family healing. Again, a lot like Encanto.
That’s where the comparisons end though. This story goes back and forth and the “present day” and the Orquidea’s past. Both storylines entwine to tell the story of Orquidea and the Montoya’s. Before she passes, she tells her family that she can’t tell them who is coming for them and they must find who. Marimar is to me the main character. She inherited the house and rebuilds. I feel like she is the one that is most connected to her. She goes through the wringer in this book but really comes out of it better. She is quite a extraordinary person. She starts out to be very guarded and for awhile she really starts to shut herself off. It’s her way of protecting herself but when tragedy strikes the family and she has to move, she does. It’s really through her eyes that we get to know Orquidea and the Montoya’s family and who they were and what they will become. So, if you like magical realism and Encanto, I think you will like this book too.
I feel like this the one book that all of Booktok can agree on that needs to be read.
I finished my last book and my planned next book is still in transit so I thought it was a good time to revisit a favorite.
I mentioned earlier that I was surprised to find out this book was a trilogy because I thought it wrapped up pretty nicely in the last book. They found Toby, the missing Hawthorne. Avery had picked between Jameson and Greyson but I guess her year wasn’t quite over yet and hadn’t officially inherited the Hawthorne fortune yet and I guess we still hadn’t found it why she was picked. Well all of that was answered and some of it was good and some of it was okay. The fast pace nature of the story telling is still there. The puzzles were more complicated and we have a new antagonist to play against. Tobias Hawthorne was an asshole but I can’t imagine anyone who accumulated that much wealth is a decent person. What he did to Avery is kinda cruel but I do like what she did with the money at the end. How people can play with other people’s lives like this is just horrible? I get that in his way, he was protecting his family but at Avery’s expense. Anyway, Avery got the upper hand so good for her. The Hawthorne brothers got the closure and healing they needed though I do hope they all are in therapy after all of this. And I like how it’s been left open for future books if the author ever wants to return to. So yes, this was a fun mystery series. I highly recommend it.