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Ratings and Book Reviews (1 19 star ratings
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4.4 out of 5
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    An amazing book in every way

    It’s not often you read a new work you think is important, or comes from a first-time writer you think is going to be important. Roberta Kwang will be important. I started the book thinking I was reading Harry Potter in China, which in itself had a lot that was culturally fresh and new. And I’m thinking to myself “hmm, why didn’t they mark this as a YA book? This is a great book for kids.” This is NOT a great book for kids and under no circumstances should you give it to one, unless you want to scare the absolutely bejesus out of them, and not in a “fun horror movie” way - more like a “first time you learn about the holocaust” kind of way. Kwang’s world is a fantasy Asia, but an Asia based on historical Asia, as in the rape of Nanking and Hiroshima. What starts out as Harry Potter-esque quickly morphs into Heart of Darkness. Kwang is a deft storyteller and The Poppy War will introduce western readers to cultures and histories many have never been exposed to, and she does so in an inventive, imaginative and extremely compelling way. I loved every page of it. I simply could not put the book down. When it comes to modern “kill your darlings” storytelling, let’s just say Kwang has the guts to lap George R.R. Martin. Like Martin her knowledge of history is expansive, there are no saints, and no one is safe. It reads like a mature work of a worldly writer whose imaginative universe seems to know no limits. And now for the really, really scary part: Roberta Kwang is only twenty-two. As in years old. That’s a 2. And then another 2 next to it. Yep. 22. Roberta Kwang will be an important writer. You should read The Poppy War. It is quite simply an excellent book in every way.
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