The Dragon Warrior (ARC)
Author: Katie Zhao
Publisher: Bloomsbury Kids
Released: October 15th, 2019
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Format: e-ARC (Netgalley)
Characters: Faryn (Falun), Alex (Ah Li), Moli, Ren, Ye Ye, …
As a member of the Jade Society, twelve-year-old Faryn Liu dreams of honoring her family and the gods by becoming a warrior. But the Society has shunned Faryn and her brother Alex ever since their father disappeared years ago, forcing them to train in secret.
Then, during an errand into San Francisco, Faryn stumbles into a battle with a demon–and helps defeat it. She just might be the fabled Heaven Breaker, a powerful warrior meant to work for the all-mighty deity, the Jade Emperor, by commanding an army of dragons to defeat the demons. That is, if she can prove her worth and find the island of the immortals before the Lunar New Year.
With Alex and other unlikely allies at her side, Faryn sets off on a daring quest across Chinatowns. But becoming the Heaven Breaker will require more sacrifices than she first realized . . . What will Faryn be willing to give up to claim her destiny?
Inspired by Chinese mythology, this richly woven contemporary middle-grade fantasy, full of humor, magic, and heart, will appeal to readers who love Roshani Chokshi and Sayantani DasGupta.
I LOVE THIS BOOK. PERIOD. Can that be it? That’s my review, you’re welcome.
Of course not, I’m kidding. First of all, thank you to Shealea from Shut Up, Shealea for choosing me to be part of this blog tour and many thanks to the publisher, Bloomsbury Kids for providing the Netgalley e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Where do I start even? Let’s start with what I love about this book, the overall concept of this book is just brilliant. The first thing I picked out was the celebration of Lunar New Year, or some of us call Chinese New Year and the well known myth of nian. According to the story I’ve heard before, Nian was a demon that came to attack villagers during Lunar New Year and to scare it away, the villagers used red paper that has calligraphy on it, firecrackers and loud noises. This leads to our custom these days to have the lion dance and to put on firecrackers to get rid of bad luck (sort of). I love how the author highlights on the Chinese’s culture, faith and also beliefs. As a Chinese, reading this book, was a pure joy, words can’t describe it. I was even more thrilled when I saw deities being mentioned, Guanyin, Nezha, and Jade Emperor. All of these are so familiar, that it made my heart full reading this story.
Another thing that I fancy about this book is the plot line. Faryn, her brother, Alex and a couple of friends went on a quest to meet the deities and their adventure was just so exciting. It sort of reminds me of Journey to the West, featuring Sun Wu Kong and his friends. I love the fact that every single stop, they would have these challenges, which were to fight someone or save someone. You’ll never know what’s going to happen, each challenge set was thrilling in its own way. I’m not gonna spoil you but the climax though, was a definite game changer. I think it was so well done. The story development was beyond great and that cliffhanger though. When can I get my sequel, Katie Zhao?
The characters are fun, they are very likable. I love Ye Ye the most though, the way he educates Faryn and Alex reminds me a lot of the elders in our family; always going to temple, respect the elders, be kind, behave, tough love, you name it. I also adore the fictional personalities given to the deities. For instance, Guanyin could be so freaking badass and sassy but kind and merciful at the same time. I enjoy that combination a lot! *at this point, I’m just trying to replace love with its synonyms* Not forgetting, the characters development, from their feelings, maturity and mental wise, is another aspect that I personally think is simply wonderfully executed.
The writing style is easy to read. I basically flew through the pages. The author has not just use pinyin for the Chinese characters, she also included the sound system, which I highly appreciated. That kind of effort deserves the world. It made reading those Chinese characters so much easier and they made so much sense to me. However, in this ARC, there’s a mistake I believe in the word hu li jing, I think the li was supposed to be the second sound instead of the fourth because it didn’t make sense when I read the character in the fourth sound. If this is fixed, the final copy is going to be flaw-freaking-less!
That’s basically it. This is a shitty review, I must say, it’s just all over the place. But just know one thing, I LOVE THE DRAGON WARRIOR and IT’S A REALLY GOOD BOOK, so GO GET IT when it’s out.
Get this book at: Amazon | Book Depository
If you actually reach this part of the post, congratulations. Just want to let you know, this creative post was very much unplanned and unintended. As I read the book, I was like: “Let me add a little bit more information for you guys.” So, here is the must-haves during the Lunar New Year! I could do the dos and don’ts but that’s gonna take me years, the list is just too long.
1. hong bao or red packets. Kids love it, adults hate it, especially married couples. Do you know that some of us adults
*cough* me *cough* still get hong bao even though we are not kids anymore, JUST because we’re still single. So, being single is great. Stay single, guys, if you celebrate Lunar New Year and you have kind aunties and uncles.
2. ju zi or mandarin oranges. I call it gan 柑 here in Malaysia. It is similar to normal oranges, but the way you eat it is a bit different, you don’t need to cut it, just peel the flesh one by one. However, as much as we all love how juicy it is, we can’t eat mandarin oranges a lot because it’ll cause you to cough pretty badly. The elders always be like, “Don’t eat the mandarin oranges too much. Not good!”
3. wu si 舞狮 or Lion dance and bian pao 鞭炮 or firecrackers. Lion dance usually would consist of a lion-like costume and musical instruments like drums and cymbals. These two elements are said to bring fortune for a new year and get rid of bad luck.
4. dui lian or chinese calligraphy on red rice paper/Chinese couplets. This is a decoration that one would normally see in households during Lunar New Year. It normally comes in pairs. The words written on them usually means well and to bring fortune for the family.
5. nian gao or Chinese New Year Cake. I’m not sure does this cake differ from place to place but I’ll insert the photo of nian gao that I have eaten all these years. Idk why but it’s always there during Lunar New Year. It’s sweet and sinful and my mum loves to cut it and fried with sweet potatoes dip in rice flour (that has been mixed with water). It tastes so good, I swear.
These are the basic must-haves during Lunar New Year. It might differ from society to society and it could have been more. I hope you enjoy this section of the post.
Disclaimer: All the images are taken from Google images, I do not own it nor I create them, credits belong to the rightful owners.
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About the Author
Katie Zhao is a 2017 graduate of the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English and Political Science, and a 2018 Masters of Accounting at the same university. She is the author of Chinese #ownvoices middle grade fantasy The Dragon Warrior (Bloomsbury Kids, October 2019 & 2020), as well as a young adult author. She is a mentor for Author Mentor Match. She is currently open to freelance editorial services for young adult and middle grade manuscripts.