The Dragon Republic

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 06 Aug 2019

Member Reviews

Thank you to Harper Voyager and NetGalley for the chance to review this title. 

Let me preface this by saying if you have not read THE POPPY WAR yet and you're reading this review because you're my friend and just hanging out on Goodreads looking at your timeline, READ IT. It's the raw, exciting, heartwrenching fantasy you've been waiting for. 

Oh man, okay so this starts after the third Poppy War ends and Rin is teetering on the edge of sanity after what she'd done. Her addiction to opioids and past are dragging her down. She was the most annoying character ever at this early point, but I understood where she was coming from as a person of loss. She did some pretty effed up stuff and lost the person she more or less dedicated her existence. She wanted to be numb. Thanks to her friends, the Cike, and some unlikely allies, she finally gains control of the situation and her powers. Siding with the Dragon Warlord, she thrusts herself back into a war that may or may not tear her apart. 

Rin runs you through her introspection and her struggles, and it hurts. It hurts to be a spectator to her agony. Part of me wanted to shake her like a rag doll and tell her to buck up. I was lucky to have only read the first book a few months ago, so the plot was still new to me. I remembered every character. It wasn't only Rin dealing with her past, but also her school friend Kitay and frenemy, Nezha. Everyone has their pain, and some even wear it on the outside. These kids have been through the wringer, and it shows. 

Kuang's writing is flawless. It is what drew me into THE POPPY WAR, to begin with. Rin's sass and cursing saw me relating her more often than not. She's written a character with strength and flaws, that sees through her past, but not without a severe struggle. Enemies come at her from all sides, and trust is something that does not come easily to her. If you HAVE read TPW, you know you are in store for some gritty story-telling, and this one does not disappoint. It follows no rules, but it's own. There was next to no predictable moments. 

What I'm trying to convey is that I am so in love with these books, and I will follow Kuang's career until my dying day as long as she churns out books like these.
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All the words of wonder that I can think of at the moment would be censored if I actually wrote them down, since most of them are of the four letter variety, Sigh. Anyway, rarely does a second book surpass the first one (at least in my opinion) but wow... This was an action packed, roller coaster of an adventure. 

Would I recommend? F*** Yes! 
Advice: Read the first one beforehand, "The Poppy War."
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This ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the publishers and to Netgalley!!

I don't know how I'm supposed to write about this book because I spent the last ten percent of the book screaming and crying and am actually typing this with tears drying on my face. So much happens that I also don't know what to start with, or end with, or even think about. Every time I think about something that happens in this book, I either get incredibly upset or start laughing because that's the only way I can deal with what happens in this book! Cool! 

The Dragon Republic, the sequel to one of my -- possibly, my favorite -- favorite books of 2018, had a lot to live up to. The Poppy War set the bar so incredibly high in its characters, world, and plot that I was worried this book wouldn't live up to it, but I'm very happy to say that it did, it does, and it broke my heart even more than the first one did. R.F. Kuang proved she could write about war and its atrocities in the first book; she proves she can write its aftermath and its shockwaves in this book. I'll have a more in-depth review when the book is released, but for now, I'll talk about a few things:

1. I love these characters. I love Rin so, so, so much. She is so complicated and so real and so full of mistakes.

2. The internal work Kuang does here is so captivating and difficult and I thought it was one of the best parts of the book. Rin has suffered and done so much and Kuang doesn't forget that, doesn't let her brush it away, doesn't pretend it didn't happen just for an easier narrative or so she can move onto the next plot point. More than anything, I think this is the most admirable aspect of the book. 

3. But the plot doesn't suffer! It does have a pacing issue not unlike The Poppy War, but I don't mind it because I think what happens was necessary to inform everything that happens in relation and in reaction to each other. I don't know. I understand the pacing point, but I would also read more, more, more of this if I could. (Sorry I keep reading "what happens" so much. It's hard to be vague about this when all I want to do is scream about it in detail.)

4. I cannot stress this enough: R.F. Kuang is a Chinese author writing about Chinese people!!! She understands!!! SHE GETS IT!!!!!!!!!!!

5. The twists in this... lol.... you guys.... you don't even know.

And now I'm going to go hide in a cave and, like, only think about this book, I guess???? COOL??? THANKS, R.F. KUANG!
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I LOVED the Poppy War, the first in this series.  I was so excited to get an early copy of this one to check out.  It wasn't as good as the first one, but still infinitely fascinating..  A lot more focused on military strategy and fighting, less on the interpersonal relationships of the characters.  The only relationship that was remotely interesting was Kitay and Rin.  I could've had a whole book of just them and would have been happy.  The book picks up in the final third of the book, and then I couldn't put it down.  So still a great book, but not as good as the first one.
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Thank you NetGalley and Publisher for this early copy!

I was over the moon happy when I was gifted this arc by the publisher! It made me finally read The Poppy War and find a new high Fantasy series that I love. Rin is complex character that I liked reading about. 

I found that I enjoyed book two even more than the first one. The world building was even better in the second one. I would have liked more magic but we did get quite a bit of it in the last half. I will be reading more from this author in the future and I cannot wait to find out what happens in book three. 

I will be posting a full review closer to release date.
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4.5/5 stars

Ok soooooooo. That ending. I'm shook. So much went down those last 5 chapters and I need MORE.

Anyways, the development we see from Rin from beginning to end is a complete 180. I thought her very mad and agressive for the first chapters of this book. Reminding me a lot of how the last thrid went in The Poppy War, I found Rin to just piss me off and make me so upset at how she was acting. She was dosed up on opium and struggling with Atlan's loss and having to follow a legacy, so it was completely understandable on why she was acting the way she did. Atlan is always on her mind throughout this book as she struggles to regain control of herself and become someone to actually take charge. Obviously lots of bumps in the road with that, and some more devastating than others. 

Can we talk about Nezha and Rin though? Because that development between them just had me in for a loop! Enemies to friends in such a glorious way, and even then the friendship is a rocky one. Just goes to show that things can turn around for people who started out hating each other. Until, well, you'll see... Kitay is still my #1 best boi though, and those scenes at the end were just brutal. Kitay is the best friend here and I always love reading any scenes he's in!

So yeah, really liked this one! I NEED to know what happens next after all that went down towards the end. I knew something was going to happen, but DAMN. Can't wait to keep reading.

ARC provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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4.5

“‘Nothing lasts,’ said Nezha, at the same time that Kitay said, ‘The world doesn’t exist.’”

This book is packed with action, wonderful friendships, Chinese mythology, edge of your seat suspense, enough mystery to keep you guessing, interesting politics, and best of all — Rin. 

It starts with a bang that puts you right back into the harsh and gruesome world we’d left (kicking and screaming) at the end of The Poppy War. I’ve been in a little bit of a reading slump lately, so I was worried starting such a long book that it would be difficult to complete. Luckily, I was sucked in almost without realizing it was happening. 

The Dragon Republic continues to explore the horrors of war and what it does to people and relationships in the same awful yet realistic way that The Poppy War did so well. The world-building was still phenomenal, as more people, places, and ideologies are introduced.

This is a war book through and through, and the secondary characters and the relationships take a back seat to what’s happening at times. While I definitely prefer the character/relationship aspects best in any given story, the writing in this book held my interest. 

I feel that a lot of what’s covered in this book for Rin is an inner journey, so it felt like there were a lot of times that not much of consequence was happening. The character development happened though, and in a way that felt organic and earned. 

Like The Poppy War, this story burns slowly. It makes you think and come to your own conclusions before taking your breath away. By the end I was completely hooked and desperate for more; I can’t wait for the final book in this trilogy. I know it’s gonna be painful but in the best way possible!

“‘ I thought he was in love with Tearza,’ Rin said. 
‘He loved her and feared her,’ Nezha said. ‘They’re not mutually exclusive.’”
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25. The Dragon Republic, RF Kuang: The simple summary: man Fonda Lee is not kidding with that fucking pull quite.

The longer, more complicated summary: this is a hell of a second book. It’s a brick, yes, and there are 672 pages in it, and some of the early stuff seems like filler. But every piece in this book has a purpose, and is delivered on in the book itself. There is stuff that will be likely further expounded on next book, absolutely. But the pieces all show up again in this book, and for a reason. 

The stakes are upped in this book, in every sense of the word. Remember how the first book was dealing with the expy Chinese and expy Japanese and historical atrocities? Well, I can tell you now that this book fully commits to the time period, and will likely be going even further down that route. The expy British show up, and they are goddamn terrifying in every sense of the word. The true villain of this book is ruthless in every sense of the word, and the level of planning he does to ensure that things come to what he wants to happen is only clear at the end of the book. There are more battles, more low key genocide, and grappling with things like drug addiction, trauma and grief recovery, and regional/personal identity. 

And something I’m really impressed with? For as dark as this book goes, the heroine is never once raped. (She deals with witnessing a rape, and the effects of rape on people around her, but it’s never used as a way to try and make things even worse for her, which I respect from the author.)

I’m deeply impressed with and fucked up by this book, and I can’t wait to see the last book in the trilogy.
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The beginning of the book was a bit confusing because there was a small time gap between the first and second book. The book was filled with many surprising twists and I really enjoyed the thrill. Although Rin is known to be rash and impulsive, I felt like some of here decisions were just blatantly foolish. R. F. Kuang did develop the characteristics of the various members of the Cike, but I felt like some Cike members did not receive enough characterization to provide a feeling of a family as described in the book. The characterization of Rin was amazing and I really enjoyed seeing her improve her own character but at the same time she still maintains her distinct impulsiveness.
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This story was absolutely epic! It picks up where The Poppy War left off. It truly left me speechless.
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I'M GOING TO HYPERVENTILATE!

I'll be honest, sequels scare the fork out of me. I always go into them wondering "Who are these people!?" because I just can't for the life of me keep day to day life and 100+ books vivid in my memory but you know what! I HAD NO PROBLEM GETTING MYSELF BACK INTO THIS STORY.

The Dragon Republic is the second book to the highly praised The Poppy War, but the fans of the previous book don’t need to worry about stumbling into the infamous middle book syndrome here. The Dragon Republic surpassed the previous book’s quality. YUP I SAID IT.  Following the catastrophic conclusion of the first book, The Dragon Republic plunges Rin and her companions into a brand new war. This book is a different kind of book from its predecessor; it’s much more character-driven. Kuang offers an even more deep exploration of Rin's character and it makes the storyline feel more intimate. More importantly, this storytelling style shows Kuang's greatest writing strength as an author - her characterizations. The differences in the cultures and environments of the provinces citizens enhanced the originality of world-building as well as characters’ motivations. 

The action sequences that Kuang put upon the pages of this book was bloody, visceral, and impactful in grabbing my attention. Both the arcane magic and the divine power unleashed in full force during this book were superbly written, creating one memorably vivid and exhilarating conclusion.

Get on this series as soon as you can. I’m already confident enough to say that The Dragon Republic is another success story in the making.
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If the Poppy War wasn't already amazing enough, the Dragon Republic convinces me without a doubt of R.F. Kuang's genius. At the end of the Poppy War, Rin is a mess. She's beyond devastated at the loss of Altan, but also ragingly addicted to opium and unable to control her powers and emotions. The first couple chapters of Dragon Kingdom show her in this same light, and frankly sometimes my jaw would drop at how cold and ruthless she was. I think Kuang delicately crafted a very real look at both addiction, and the grieving process and when you put them together in the same person-it can be disastrous. What I like about Rin is that she is a character with flaws-Kuang doesn't sugarcoat our main character. 
Altan is a very common recurring motif in this one, as it takes RIn all throughout the book to finally, finally get over him and his impact in her life. One of my favorite parts was when she had his trident(his preferred weapon) melted down into a sword(her preferred weapon) after forcing herself to use it to be more like him or honor his memory-kind of like a big "f you" to his negative influence and hold on her and a symbol of her finally being able to stand on her own and hold her own.
Nezha was one of the characters I enjoyed reading about the most in this book, which only makes the ending more like a stab in the back. His struggle to get approval from his dad, not to be overshadowed by his brother...all very well done. A lot of moments in this book he provides a nice balance between Rin and Kitay.
Overall this book was beautifully done, I loved the interpersonal relationships with the characters as well as within Rin herself. There are a lot of military strategizing scenes throughout the book-actually they make up most of the book! Again, I was blown away by how thoughtful and masterfully Kuang thought through all these details. As a reader, it can feel heavy and a lot to take in and that's kind of what made this book a slower read for me.
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“‘I used to be scared of war,’ she said finally. ‘Then I realized I was very good at it.’”

Rin was an absolute hot mess in the beginning of the book and I love Kuang for that. Rin is SUPPOSED to be a hot mess after everything she has gone through and the trials ahead. She is addicted to opium, the Phoenix is playing pinball with her psyche, and she is still reeling from the war and losing Atlan-the man she was beginning to associate with family.
I felt so bad for her as she struggled with her addiction and her guilt for her brutality, the author does not pull any punches when it came to the truth about addiction and how it not only affects you but the people around you. The Cike begin to lose faith in her and so does she. 
But when Nezha appears and brings her along to his father’s army to stop the Empress, she begins to have faith in herself again.
Rin looks to the Dragon Warlord as a father figure/mentor/teacher and it made me realize how deep Rin’s desire for a family really is. She craves the Warlord’s attention and aims to please him as she struggles to gain her momentum after her addiction.
A lot of old faces are reintroduced and it was almost bittersweet to see how much the war has changed the once spry students we were first introduced to.

Nezha
With Nezha, we see the once rivals become the most surprising of friends.
“Why was it that whenever she looked at Nezha, she wanted either kill him or kiss him? He made her either furious or deliriously happy. The one thing he did not make her feel was secure.”
I absolutely loved their friendship. I was honestly surprised to see how loving and patience he was with Rin. We later learn why and how Nezha can relate to her struggles with her god and powers but wow, did not see sparks of tension and romance in their future.
And the ending!! His betrayal!! Ahhhh, Rin/Nezha, fire/water, it will be epic.

Altan
“Fuck Altan, fuck his legacy, and fuck his trident. It was time she started using a weapon that would keep her alive.”
Altan and his presence continues to linger in this book, actually, his very ghost is threaded into each chapter. Rin struggles to carry the mantle of his legacy and as the last Speerly (that we know of), Rin is more unsure of herself than ever. In the first book, I was as swept up by Altan as anyone-his bravery, strength, ferocity, and my heart tore as we learned about his addiction, rage, and the times he spent getting experimented on. But in this book, Rin learns how to disassociate herself from Altan and strive to be better than him.

Eugenics
Eugenics and racism plays a biggg factor in this book. We are introduced to the people in the west called the Sinegardians. I can only imagine the author used Americans and or Europeans as the example of this big, blonde, blue-eyed race of people. The view Rin and her people as beneath them, nothing more than an inferior race. The use their different skin tone, eye shape, and brain sizes to fuel their hateful beliefs. This reminded me of the Eugenics movement in early American where scientist classified different types of “races” and how white people were more superior because it backed by science (eye roll). 
And it was so upsetting to watch as Rin was literally stripped of her humanity from these people who want to study her. And because she is a Speerly, she was considered even less.
I knew that once the Sinegardians became more vocal about how they viewed the Kitarians that we were a threat and not an ally so I am looking forward for the next book where Rin takes her revenge. 

Overall
I loved the politics, the military tactics, the reoccurring characters, the slow build, the patient story telling as we get deeper and deeper into the Third Poppy War. I loved Rin in the first book and now I can’t wait to see her progress as she kicks some more ass in the last book.
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Another great book, the second is just as good and riveting as the first book, keeps you turning those pages, great writing.
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What a fantastic continuation of The Poppy War! I love RF Hoang's writing style and can't wait for her next release!!!
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The Dragon Republic is synonymous to legendary. Every character leaps off the page and dances in your imagination. The devastatingly beautiful descriptions and vivid world whisked me away. Beware that this will not be a light read. The book is packed with honesty and brutality. I eagerly await the third installment,
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I might have to sit on this for a while, but I'm wiggling between 3.5 and 4 stars. The writing is incredible, the world building gets richer and richer, and the characters are deep and complex. But every time I put it down, it was difficult to pick back up. There were many chapters that were difficult to read because either it was a lot of war strategy or brutal war scenes, which isn't exactly out of the blue, the first book had plenty of this as well., but I wonder if I was in a bad head space to read such a dark story these past few weeks. I also think I struggled because the characters just hurled tons of terrible, abusive insults at each other- often not in good fun- and sometimes it wore on me. There was also a character death that I 10000% disagreed with and disliked. However! Kuang has certainly matured in her craft, that is indisputable. The last act twist was juicy, and I'll definitely be tuning in to the third book in the trilogy. 

Thank you to Netgalley for the eARC!
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Thank you so much for the opportunity to review this! I appreciate it very much!

Unfortunately, this just did not grip me and pull me in the way that The Poppy War did. I am always wary of sequels, but I go in with an open mind regardless. This just didn`t have the same magic to it; it lost its spark. 

I found myself picking it up and putting down a lot. I didnt care to jump back in when I wasn't reading it.

I wound up dnfing at the 30% mark because I just couldn't keep going. 

I am always sad leaving a less than stellar review when the book just wasn't one I enjoyed or cared for, it is almost easier to leave a negative review than a mediocre not for me one. I dropped the star rating to two stars because of my personal lack of connection to it.

I couldn't connect with the characters again. There was a huge disconnect for me and I don't know precisely why that was.

I adored Rin in book one but just did not care about her at all in book two, which was a problem since she was still the main character. Sigh.

Yet, this might resonate with you and you might think it is amazing!  It just didn't feel that way to me and I couldn't force myself to slog , slog, slog through it anymore.
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There was just no way I was going to enjoy this book.

I loved The Poppy War so much. In fact, it left me in a month-long reading slump—all I wanted was more The Poppy War and nothing else could scratch that itch. It was miserable in the most delicious way.

Of course, my hype for The Dragon Republic was outrageous, so extreme that I knew no author could deliver. Though I was thrilled at the idea of a sequel, I was pre-disappointed. Kuang couldn’t strike twice like that.

To make matters worse, I received this galley in the middle of a reread of all seven Harry Potter books. There’s no book slump like the slump after Harry, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist The Dragon Republic long enough after my reread to give it a fair, clean shot. I was gonna hate The Dragon Republic, because I finished Deathly Hallows on a Friday night and started The Dragon Republic on Saturday morning, knowing in my heart that it was a massive mistake.

And then I finished The Dragon Republic right before midnight that same day because Kuang is an absolute monster of a storyteller and she delivered again. I’m in shock—that Kuang could overpower Harry Potter (HARRY! POTTER!) so effortlessly, because now I’m like, Harry who? Who cares about that dweeb? Not me! And somehow The Dragon Republic lives up to The Poppy War. How did Kuang do it? I feel like I’ve just experienced a reading miracle.

In fact, I think The Poppy War trilogy is the series that adult HP fans have been waiting for. It hits all the same rushing highs and delightful lows, with similar themes and character relationships, but Kuang finds new, fresh notes that make my soul sing.

So begins my next great book slump. This one will be the worst yet—I’m not going to get over The Dragon Republic for a long time.
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I almost gave this three stars, but I couldn't lie to myself. I devoured this book. While it's not the absolute revelation that The Poppy War was, The Dragon Republic is still a well-paced, action-packed fantasy that I have been looking forward to since I finished the first book.

My only complaints were that a lot of moments felt very fan service-y, and that Rin and Nezha's relationship is incredibly frustrating. While their friendship feels natural, I don't know if I believe that they could potentially have a romantic one. Certainly, I can see Nezha believing they could. But if I had to read about another instance of them love/hating each other, I was going to lose my mind. 

The real scene stealer here is Su Daji. I can't wait for her to turn up again. She's probably one of Kuang's most compelling characters, simply based on the mythology built up around her. 

Anyway, this book hasn't even been officially released yet and I am already anxious for the third.
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