Hi everyone I hope you’re doing well!! This post is a review for Xiran Jay Zhao’s debut novel Iron Widow. Thank you to Penguin Teen Canada and Netgalley for sending me an advanced review copy in exchange for an honest review </3
Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
Genre: YA fantasy, sci-fi, (some historic aspects too)
Pub Date: 21st September
[TW: misogyny & femicide, rape mentioned, physical & emotional abuse, suicidal ideation, alcoholism, blood & gore depiction, murder, torture]
Synopsis (from publisher):
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.
Wu Zetian was inspired by China’s only female emperor (Wu Zetian). Zetian had two goals: avenging her sister’s death, and taking down the patriarchy. Iron Widow is an intricate story about the girls in Huaxia who were treated like they were nothing, they were toys in the patriarchal system, they had no rights and no voice. They were expected to bow down to the patriarchy, they were expected to make sacrifices because “women can sacrifice”. Zetian wanted to take down this very system that killed her sister and thousands of girls.
This book had everything I’ve wanted to see in a YA book and I loved it. All the characters were Chinese or Asian, Zetian wanted to take down the patriarchy, and the setting was so interesting too!! Each of the characters developed in their own ways and I enjoyed reading about that. There was also a healthy polyarmorous relationship between the 3 characters and it was written beautifully. Li Shimin was one of my favourite characters because he was just cool. I’m going to leave it at that.
I loved how Xiran combined historic practices like foot binding in the futuristic world of Huaxia. The depictions of emotions were real and extremely well written and I applaud them for writing it in such an amazing manner.
I cried towards the end of the book and the ending left me- let’s just not even talk about it *cries*. This is my sign up for Iron Widow #2 if you’re wondering 🥲✋
In conclusion Xiran Jay Zhao wrote an amazing book and everyone needs to pre-order it right now <3
Find my reviews on Instagram over here!!
Thank you for reading this review and I hoped you liked it!!
Sending incoherent screams about how Zetian was so cool and I’m in love with her now,
FlyIntoBooks - Book Reviews
Wow a lot of trigger warnings it is not funny! I hope the book isn’t all gore and violence especially if it’s YA?
Hi yes the book is definitely YA, it’s 14+ having a lot of trigger warnings doesn’t mean it isn’t suitable for a young adult audience!! 🙂
FlyIntoBooks - Book Reviews
Haha I was more thinking about me! I’ve read a few of Karin Daughters books and I was pretty shocked. Having a looking at the trigger warnings reminded me of that time lol
Phoenix @ Books With Wings
Great review! I’ve been wanting to read this for a long time, so I’m really glad that you enjoyed it! It sounds awesome!
Ahh thank you so much!! It’s a really great book I hope you enjoy it when it comes out!!
Cherelle @ A Bolt out of the Book
so happy to hear that you enjoyed iron widow! there’s been a much hype about it and i’m confident it’s going to live up to all of it! lovely review ❤️❤️
AHHH thank you so much!! AND YES iron widow was an awesome book <3