The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang – DISCUSSION

I have a lot of feelings about this book even though I DNFed it at around 80%. This will contain spoilers, you have been warned.

Okay, first let’s talk about why I decided to DNF it. I wanted to finish it and maybe I will at some point when I feel mentally prepared. But the reason I DNFed it is because of the really, really horrific sacking of that city. I wanted to carry on reading because I know this is based on an actual fairly recent historical event and I always feel like I should know the stories of the suffering of my fellow humans. Not because I enjoy it, but because it’s the only thing I can do. To know, to get angry and to remember. But I honestly could not stomach it. I have a fairly strong stomach, I would say. I’ve read some pretty dark stuff, but this just got to a point where I just couldn’t. And I appreciate that the author was trying to portray the horrific things that happened but I had to stop. It was putting me in a really unhealthy place mentally. So that’s why I didn’t finish the book, if you have a stronger stomach than I, then maybe you can.

That aside, I still read most of the book, so I have formed some opinions. I really enjoyed the first half or so. I had a few issues, however. One of them – and I talked about this in my last wrap-up – is the way that Rin just destroyed her uterus because she got her period and it freaked her out. I don’t like kids, I don’t want any and my period has frequently made me feel like I want to rip my uterus out of my body and be done with it forever. However, the removal of one of one’s major organs, I felt, was dealt with rashly and it wasn’t really addressed. I would have expected to see at least some pondering on Rin’s part. There was one character who mentioned briefly that it’s the removal of her organs Rin’s talking about, but that’s it. I kind of understand that Rin was scared, didn’t really know or fully understand what was happening to her, having not been told about periods… but, firstly, I don’t think anyone would be so blase about something like that. And secondly, regardless of how scared or in pain she might have been, Rin was clever. It seems very out of character to me for her to not think about this at all. I found it weird. It’s something that I could overlook, but I found it weird enough that I had to mention it.

Another thing I find less easy to overlook is the drug abuse that goes on. The way the magic system works is through the consumption of mind altering substances. I find that very problematic. Because I feel like it almost encourages substance abuse. Yes, Rin grows up around opium addicts and is very against opium consumption. But then she turns around and uses other mind altering substances, including poppy seeds (which are the source of opium) for her magic. Not only that, but her mentor encourages her to cultivate her “magic” and feeds her drugs. Is it just me who finds this very problematic and not at all a good way to construct a magic system? Especially considering how much hype this series has surrounding it. Why is no one talking about this? Or am I just looking in the wrong places.

I still genuinely enjoyed the first part of the book despite my issues with it. I loved the bit at the school. Once the war started, I found it a bit more boring, oddly enough. Like, the new characters, the sikh (not sure I’m spelling that right, I audibooked this) seemed kind of dimensionless to me. I genuinely couldn’t tell you much about them besides that one was water, one was an ape guy, one had a rake and there was a girl who… had a twin? They just seem like token characters to me and it all focuses of Altin and Rin and I found that dynamic quite boring. I stopped reading shortly after that, so I can’t really comment any further. There are still things that I’m really curious about and I would like to finish this book and potentially carry on with the series, but I just don’t know when I’ll be in a sound enough state of mind to be able to read it without it being unhealthy for me. So I thought I’d talk about it, because I wanted to share my thoughts on it.

Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2019 – Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, though originally it was created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the topic is most anticipated releases for the second half of 2019

I am not really anticipating that many books for the second half of the year. I have 6 which I want to talk about. However, there are several more that are books in series I haven’t started reading yet, but I’m anticipating really enjoying. So I can’t really say I’m anticipating the release of these books because I haven’t read any books in the series and it might turn out I actually don’t like the series. But I think that I will love those series. So I’m going to talk about those as well in the second half of this post.


Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff – September 5th, 2019

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I am ready, I have been waiting for 2 years. I can’t wait to read the conclusion to this series. I’m thinking of maybe doing a re-read of the first 2 in August, but I’m not sure yet.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – September 10th, 2019

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This is the only one on this list that is not a sequel. I don’t know much about it and I want to keep it that way, but I think it’s a kind of portal fantasy and I love those kinds of stories, so I’m intrigued and looking forward to reading this.

Monstress Vol. 4 by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda – October 1st, 2019

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I’m currently on volume 3 of this and I’m glad we’re getting another volume this year, because this is one of the coolest weirdest graphic novels I’ve read. I want to know what happens and honestly I’d love to see this as an animation. Someone please make an animated series of this. The world is so rich and the story so unique and gruesome at the same time. I would love to see this as an anime. Studio Ghibli, please get on to it.

The Toll by Neal Schusterman

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I just read Scythe and am currently reading Thunderhead and I’m so glad that I’ll have book 3 almost right away. This is the best utopia/dystopia (I find them to be the same genre, but with different emphasis, really) I’ve read in a long while.

Dispel Illusion by Mark Lawrence – November 14th, 2019

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Any Mark Lawrence book is automatically anticipated for me and I’ve been spoiled this year, I get 4 of them!

Starsight by Brandon Sanderson – November 26th, 2019

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This is my year of Brandon Sanderson, I feel it. I’ve already read 2 Sanderson books, I’ve just ordered Words of Radiance. I’m definitely going to read this when it comes out. Give me all the Brandon Sanderson.

These are all the books that I’m actively anticipating for the seocond half of the year. I’ve read a lot of older books that are in series already completed I feel like, this year, so I haven’t gone into new series as much. And I’ve also somewhat shifted away from YA, which I think is far more promiscuous than adult SFF. However, there are few more series with books that are being released this year that I want to talk about.

The Dragon Republic by R. F. Kuang – August 6th, 2019

This is the second book in a Chinese inspired fantasy. I haven’t read the first book yet, but I’m anticipating really enjoying it. If I do get to it this year, I’m glad that I’ll have book 2 to get to right away if I like it as much as I’m thinking I will.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood- September 10th, 2019

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I still haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale. I own it and I really want to read it (I think I may have put it on my Book Junkie Trials extended TBR), but I don’t know if I will get to it this year. Because I’m nervous about reading it. But I fully expect I’m going to like it and I’m excited we’re getting a sequel.

A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie – September 19th, 2019

I’m putting this in this section because I’ve only read the original First Law trilogy. I have a lot of reading to do before I can get to this, so I’m not really actively anticipating it since I can’t read it right away anyway. But I did really like The First Law and I plan to catch up with this world and eventually get to this. Though it won’t happen this year. Also, I really don’t like this cover. I hope they will release it with a matching cover to the rest of them, because I love those covers. I mean, can you even compare?

Although I see that books 5, 6 and 7 don’t have matching covers, so there’s little hope. 😦