As another week passes by, it is time for yet another book review. This time I would like to present The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang. Before I go too far into the weeds, I think it is once again worth mentioning that if the written word is not enough for you, feel free to listen to the SwordsandSports podcast. You can find that shit on iTunes, and maybe one day when I get around to it you can find it on Google Play. This week I recap the super bowl, I beg for money because I lost it all, and make other hilarious comments on the book. 52 books, 52 weeks, 52 podcasts. Join the movement now or die a horrible death.
Alright another unsuccessful promo done so we can move on. I got to be honest about The Poppy War for real, for real. To me this seemed like a story you have read at least 14 times in your life, except the characters and culture is all Asian. I know this is both controversial and brave of me to say. Let me break it down for you clowns out there who are ready to throw me into the fire. The book is essentially two parts.
Part one is your classic orphan goes to school and learns magic tale. I am going to use no gender pronouns here, not to be progressive but to prove a point. It starts out with this kid, the kid is naturally an orphan. The way out of a tough living situation is to get accepted into this special school. The only way to do this is to be super smart. Of course the main character is beyond smart so the kid gets accepted to the school. The school is male dominated, but there are some women. The school is run by Masters, each Master has a specific subject that they teach. But there is a Master that is loopy, wacky, disheveled and frankly childish and immature. Most of the other professors think he is cracked, but of course he is the Master of magic. The main character has a rival, this rival is super wealthy and the son of an important lord. Their antics trying to one-up each other provide a lot of the filler. Eventually the main character has to choose her track. The main character begrudgingly earns the respect of the wacky Master and does a bunch of things that don’t really seem to have a point, but are actually teaching The main character magic. The hunger for more power eventually leads to a schism, as the Master doesn’t think this power should be used for violence.
Is part one The Name of the Wind? Nope. In this book replace Kvothe with Rin, Master Elodin with Jiang, and Ambrose with Nezha. Make everyone Asian and we have ourselves an award winning debut novel. Part 2 on the other hand, is where things take a turn.
At some point in the book, we replace the quaint orphan goes to school tale with an X-men in a fantasy world witnessing and causing massacres story. A littttttle bit different. The second part goes way off the rails, and frankly it is refreshing. Eventually Rin joins this crack team of a magic using military branch and causes absolute fucking mayhem. Not to spoil everything but the kind of amoral heel turn Rin takes is awesome. The second half is a little crazy and disjointed but a ton of fun.
So ends another dope ass review. This book teeters the line between virgin and chad so I place it firmly in the middle. On the one side, orphan goes to school and learns magic is one of my favorite kinds of stories but is def a virg move. On the other hand mass murder is very chad. The two balance each other out, the perfect yin to yang ratio.