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Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
Published by Penguin Teen on September 21, 2021
my rating: ★★★★ (4 stars)
Goodreads avg: 4.37 (as of 2021-11-04)
I probably wouldn’t have even picked this up if I hadn’t found out that this was a love triangle solved by polyamory plot. But boy howdy I am so glad I did. I liked having an anti-heroine in Zetian. She is fueled by nothing but vengeance and Zhao makes that very clear from the start. She’s selfish, she’s rude, and she will sacrifice anything to get the revenge she requires. She’s flawed beyond measure and I still loved reading about her.
This did lose me in a few places, hence the four stars. At points it felt really rushed to me; I felt like we blew through a lot of plot in just 400 pages and my head was kind of spinning at the end. The end in general felt like it went a little off the rails, although I had guessed the big final twist when I was still at the beginning of the book. I just hadn’t expected it to come up in this installment. I also couldn’t connect to the characters sometimes and struggled to get a real feel for their personalities.
I’m going to chalk all that up to this being Zhao’s debut novel, though, and will say that despite its flaws this is very much a book worth reading if you like YA sff. I’m devastated that I have to WAIT for the sequel but am really excited to see more of this world and its characters — particularly my sweet little triad. Seriously, if anyone has recs for polyamory rep like this PLEASE pass it on.
content warnings: Misogyny & femicide, Rape mentioned, Physical & emotional abuse, Suicidal ideation, Alcoholism, Blood & gore depiction, Murder, Torture (per the Trigger Warning Database).