Iron Widow – Xiran Jay Zhao

Happy Friday! This week is the #TransRightsReadathon over on Bookstagram and BookTok. This is a time to read and amplify as many trans, nonbinary, and genderqueer books and authors as we can in the community!

This was recommended to me by one of my friends on Bookstagram

IRON WIDOW – Xiran Jay Zhao (Released September 21st, 2021)

Book Description:

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.

My Thoughts: 4/5 stars

The characters alone kept me fully engaged in the story. Also, the comparisons to Pacific Rim are spot on and now I’ve found my excuse to watch it again. Do you like some historical elements mixed in with your science fiction? A morally gray, bad ass female lead? A mesmerizing new world? Well, I have the book for you! Even though the romance elements weren’t the main focus, I liked seeing a love triangle in the form of a polyamorous relationship, something I don’t see often in books (YA or otherwise).

While I don’t read YA a ton, I think this was a good mix of a lot of genres that I enjoy. The inspiration from Chinese history and mythology mixed with a futuristic world was something I was surprised had worked well together and made for a unique reading experience. I’m excited for book two and can’t wait to see where the author takes us next!

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