- 101 in 1001
July 21, 2010
Labels: Book Reviews
Date Finished: July 20
Summary: Ai Ling has been rejected repeatedly by suitors and she is okay with that, even though it brings her family shame. Ai Ling's father leaves for the castle and doesn't return. After a lecherous old man asks for her hand in marriage to pay an old debt by her father, Ai Ling runs away to bring him home. Along the way, monsters and demons are out for her soul. She finds shelter and comfort from Chen Yong and his adopted brother Li Rong
Likes: This was as refreshing departure from the standard fantasy. It has all the same tropes most fantasies do (long quests, monsters, etc...), but the Asian-inspired myths and monsters were a breath of fresh air for me. The writing, while it took me a bit longer to get into, was beautiful and the style was very lyrical and visual. The characters felt familiar in a way and their stories felt familiar, but they came together in a way that was different. For the first half of the book, Ai Ling's ability didn't necessarily feel completely convenient, especially since it seems to endanger the party that she's traveling with. The tension was high when it time to confront the bad guy and I thought it was going to be a total blood bath, but it wasn't. It was a subtle fight and it had me at the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next. (I bet the people at the library were wondering why I was gasping so much)
Dislikes: It had its share of cliches that I was willing to overlook because of the setting and the writing. There were points in time where things were too convenient for the characters. I was mad that the ending was so simple. (Of course there is a sequel so I'm excited to see where the next book picks up).
Overall: I enjoyed this book. However...
I hate how the whole repackaging issue sort of peppered the way I read the book. My biggest question was who were they trying to market this book to? Was it people like me and those who enjoy anime and Avatar: The Last Airbender (I have to spell the whole thing out of these out now so people know I'm not talking about the blue smurf kittens or the epic fail that was the live-action movie) or specifically Asians (who have seen this type of story before according to T). Did they even do any marketing to both markets? If it wasn't for dedicated PoC book bloggers, I wouldn't have known this book existed. And that's a shame because there are thousands of people out there like me in all colors of the rainbow that would like this book, regardless of the cover. If those people are anything like me, they are tired of seeing covers that look like paranormal romances.
That being said, I enjoyed it. Like I said, even though it does have its cliches, it was a nice deviation from the standard fantasy.
Recommended by: Reading in Color. Like I mentioned before, I'm not sure I would have read this novel if I hadn't heard about the repackaging scandal. My library carries this book at another branch, but I wouldn't have known to look for it otherwise.