Cover Image: Iron Widow

Iron Widow

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Member Reviews

THIS. BOOK. I’m not even sure I can put in to words (coherently at least) how much I love this book. It was so unique. The writing and the characters were magnificent. It’s all about girl power and not needing men and crushing the patriarchy. Then you throw in queer love stories?! YES PLEASE! I’m going to be very impatiently awaiting the second book!
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This book follows Zetian as she becomes a concubine pilot for the mecha pilot who killed her sister.

I knew the main concept behind this book, butt I hadn't read the full description of the book and I'm really glad I hadn't because I was completely surprised by a plot point that was mentioned in the description. 

I also knew going into the book that there was a poly romance, and I really liked that aspect of the book and seeing the different relationships between all three characters develop. I actually would've liked to see even more
time dedicated to the romance.

I thought the whole concept was really intriguing and I liked reading it; but I did feel like there were a few things that could've been fleshed out more. I felt like there wasn't quite enough worldbuilding, so understanding everything putting everything in context could bea little difficult. The writing also felt very tell and not show at times. 

I am really intrigued to user what happens in the sequel, especially with how the ending of this first book
played out

rating: 3.5/5
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I’m so sorry I wasn’t able to read this book before the release date, I just wasn’t able to read anything sci-fi/fantasy at the time due to mental health and attention span. But I’ve truly only heard good things about this book!
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This book was one of my most anticipated reads of 2021, and it was everything that I wanted and more.  Xiran Jay Zhao’s writing kept me locked in this amazing sci-fi world with badass characters and incredible asian and LGBTQ rep! Plus, I love the author’s tiktok (@xiranjayzhao).
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This story blew me away just like I knew it would. Xiran Jay Zhao is forever iconic for the barriers they have broken with this novel and as someone who doesn't typically gravitate towards sci-fi, I couldn't help but be caught in the world, story telling and characters.
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an extremely intriguing and captivating story, but the writing was very obviously that of a debut author which pulled from the experience. furthermore, there were some parts of the story that i found to be overdone such as the themes surrounding feminism and gender equality during the war and zetian's personality as a whole. i could not reconcile her outbursts with the way she was written and described throughout the story. i still very much enjoyed it and the politics involved throughout, however. i look forward to the sequel.
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Where to begin with Iron Widow?? I don't think I've ever read anything like it and I loved every second of it. There are so many layers to this amazing book. I would love to be able to see this adapted probably as a movie but I will take anything you give me. I was ready to read book 2 immediately after finishing and once I started I didn't want to stop. The characters, the world building, the everything was just top tier. Thank you for writing this and putting it out into the world.
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Yes to this book. Yes to being the nightmare. Yes to relentless action and vivid characters and skull-fucking the patriarchy. Yes to breaking molds. Yes to how many times I hooted with delight.

I can’t wait to have this in my hands so I can highlight so many lines.
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Iron Widow is a spectacular novel that combines sci-fi and East Asian in a breathtaking way. I loved the main characters and I hope we see a corruption arc for Zetian in book two!
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Thank you to NetGalley, Penguin Random House Canada/Penguin Teen, and Xiran Jay Zhao for the opportunity to honestly review an e-arc of Iron Widow.

This book was a wild ride from beginning to end in the best possible way.  The premise was very interesting, being called “Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid's Tale” and felt exactly like that.  It is an interesting blend of historical Chinese influence and futuristic technology that creates an original backdrop for a feminist story of revenge.

The characters are complex and intense, more so that in most Young Adult books that I have read, and it makes them feel more genuine considering the character’s back stories and current predicament.  I love the polyamory representation between the three main characters. It seems entirely natural and is a refreshing break from the typical and often overdone love triangle.  

Iron Widow is action packed from start to finish and I am so looking forward to picking up the next book in the series when it is released!
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I have sat on my review of Iron Widow for an entire month now and I still don’t think I have the words to describe the epicness that is Iron Widow.

It is the feminist book, not a but THE and 
is my standout book of 2021 (and I know I’ve said that a lot about other books this year but this is it- this is the one).

Zetian is who I want to be when I grow up (I say this at 25 but still). There are so few characters that truly inspire me, I might fall in love with many and have my favorites but very few of them give me courage to stand up, grind my fears to dust and kick the patriarchy where the light don’t but Zetian is one of them. 

What I especially loved bout reading from Zetian’s POV was her thought process unfold- whatever awaited her or whatever obstacle she had to handle she would be hesitant but then kind of break down the situation and question, why- why should she be afraid, why would this limit her? Why does she have to be the one afraid- and to me that was the the most inspiring. We all have our doubts and holdbacks but it’s a matter of how you go about handling them that counts and Zetian is the perfect example of that. 

And this world, it just kept getting more and more elaborate. There were bits of information scattered about that just kept building and building and while initially I was just fascinated by Xiran’s creativity, it wasn’t until the end that I saw the full scope of her planning and creativity. I’m still kind of mind blown… and anxious as hell. I’m literally in tatters awaiting the sequel with that cliffhanger. 

I saw early reviews for Iron Widow (they were all raving with compliments) and while I took them into account I wasn’t fully sold on how iconic it would be until I saw the author’s TikToks. Now that I’ve finally read it, I can happily say it delivered on every single level of epicness that was promised. 

To conclude, this isn’t a matter of should you read Iron Widow but WHEN? And I recommend now because everyone needs this book in their life.
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4.5. I stayed up to 1am to finish reading this. I love Zetian as a protagonist, I love the polyamory, I love Shimin and Yizhi.
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This book was fantastic! I loved everything about it and cannot wait for more. This was a perfect fantasy and got me right out of my reading slump.
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This story caught my attention right away because it was so different from any other story I have read recently. At least early on it reminded me a bit of The Hunger Games. Wu Zetian is the heroine of this tale. Born in a remote village, she has spent her entire life under a repressive system that feeds up its daughters as sacrifices in an endless war against metal based animal creatures known as Hundun. With the death of Wu Zetian’s older sister, Zeitan vows to get revenge and break the mold even if it kills her in the process. With a rich tapestry of culture and characters, the story seems to be built upon hundreds of years of Chinese culture and ritual. This story also stands out for its continuous breaking of norms for both culture and gender. It’s also quite exciting. I know this is book one and the story will continue, but I was sad to see it end. Review posted to Amazon, Goodreads, Litsy, Facebook, Instagram.
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Iron Widow is a wild and powerful reimagining of China's only female emperor that's unquestionably deserving of all its high praises. With its blend of Chinese history, science fiction, and queer representation, Zhao crafted a novel that speaks to female rage, abolishing gender roles and patriarchal standards, and what someone determined enough can do with the power they're given. It was pitched as Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid's Tale and that's not far off, though Iron Widow feels uniquely its own, and is perfect for any reader looking for a vicious genre-bending story to lose themselves in.
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Wow. Simply wow. I devoured The Iron Widow. I just couldn't get enough of Zetian, of her crusade and her power, of watching her crush the world beneath her feet as she laughs. She's a stunning protagonist, one with questionable methods and morals but that fact just makes it more interesting to watch her as she goes. She's definitely one of the most memorable characters I've read in 2021. I absolutely adore her. 

But she isn't alone! The whole cast really brings something to the table, the good guys and the not. The romance subplot was particularly well-done but the Chrysalis scenes really took the cake for me. Darling in the Franxx gave inspiration there and I loved that. 

The pacing is perfection, it compels you to keep reading without anything feeling rushed or brushed aside. And the worldbuilding! Amazing! The cultural and sci-fi rules of Huaxia came out gradually, just enough so that when the author turned them upside-down you felt it as a reader. Zetian is hungry for the truth and so I am! 

Truly, The Iron Widow is one of the best books I've read in 2021. It hit all the notes I look for in a sci-fi/fantasy novel and then pushed beyond my highest expectations. I can't wait for the sequel! 

Note: I received a free electronic edition of this book via NetGalley in exchange for the honest review above. I would like to thank them, the publisher, and the author for the opportunity to do so.
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To anyone saying that sci-fi is dead in Young Adult, think again. Reconsider having ever thought it.

I knew within the first 17 pages that IRON WIDOW was destined to be one of my absolute favourite reads of the entire year. I was awed by Zetian's ambition and ruthlessness, and I adored the dynamics between her and Yizhi and Shimin (more legitimately polyamorous pairings in YA, please!). There truly are not enough words to express how much I loved EVERY part of this book, and how hungry I am to read the sequel.
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Big thanks to NetGalley for sending me a free eARC of this in exchange for an honest review.
Geez. This was absolutely incredible. How the fuck am I supposed to wait for the next book??
This was exactly what I love to read in not just YA sci-fi, but sci-fi in general. It was dark, gritty, and so so much fun. I adored the fact that we follow such a complex protagonist. I would never say that Zetian is a hero, she falls more in anti-hero for me, and I love it. She is so angry (for good reason) -- it's so refreshing to read a woman who is unashamed to be angry and take it out on the society that constantly tries to bring her down. 
And the polyamory! It was so nice to see a healthy polyamorous relationship in a novel, especially in YA. I loved both the love interests so much, and reading about their struggles and how deep and human they were beyond just being a love interest for our protagonist. All these characters felt so real, it was amazing.
This book is going to do amazing things for the newest generation of sci-fi readers, and I can't wait to watch people fall in love with it as much as I have.
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Thank you so much to Penguin Teen and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. 

HOLY CRAP THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING. I don't even know where to start. The characters? Awesome. The plot? Awesome. The love triangle? I will probably never say this again, but AWESOME. I have never seen a concept like this before, but Pacific Rim meets Eastern Asian culture was SO GOOD. 

I LOVED Zetian, and Li Shimin (my cinnamon roll <3) and Yizhi and everything they did. Zetian was so focused on revenge, and in a lot of stories that goes a little overboard for me, but in this case, I was so invested in her reasons and motivation that I didn't care, no matter what any of them did. I was rooting for it the whole way. 

Some parts were gruesome and very descriptive, but they needed to be, because what was being described was something that really was a large part of that culture. I would be lying though if I didn't say I was cringing the entire time in absolute horror at what I was reading. 

I blew through this book so quickly, and I am DYING to find out what happens after that twist at the ending. I gave this five stars and I NEED book two, immediately.
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First things first, Iron Widow absolutely lives up to the hype. This book was one of the most interesting and entertaining fantasy novels I’ve read in awhile. The elaborate fight scenes made my action movie loving self so happy. And I loved Pacific Rim vibes, but with a very angry girl at the center of the story. Also that twist in the epilogue had me like 😮. I will honestly read anything this author writes and will gladly throw this book at people until they read it.
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