The Poppy War
R. F. Kuang
I understand the appeal. The second half of this book was amazing.
I say the second half was amazing because the first half was basically already written. There were way too many similarities to my favorite book, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It legitimately felt like I was re-reading Kvothe's time at the University with different character names. Kvothe is a lonely orphan with everything to lose by not gaining entry to the University, same with Rin and the Academy. Kvothe has a petty War going on with Ambrose, Rin with Nezha. Kvothe studies under the place's craziest teacher that never teaches anyone and is thought to be a crackpot but can make the wind blow (Elodin), and Rin does the same with Jiang. Both have that ONE teacher that absolutely hates them and makes their lives hell. Shit, even the exams were exactly the same. It was just too much in common to ignore. I already read and loved that plot too much to see it reused for a different purpose.
That was where the striking similarities ended and where I started to appreciate the different plot of this book. I liked that the focus was on Shamans and how people believe the Cike are so beyond weird that no one would believe how they have their powers anyways. I liked how there was focus on genocide and revenge, while also showing the devastation of War and how soldiers are primed to think only of their orders and not to consider the humanity of their enemies. I think that there are a lot of underlying themes I'm hoping come into play in the next book. I like that Rin is turning into an anti-heroine (hehehe) and that we can see the source of her madness and the conflict within her. I like that she's made some horrible decisions and now has to live with her guilt. I like that the book shows how some politics/stories are created to cover up the mass destruction of those in power.
It seemed like a long book, but it was worth it. If the beginning had even a bit more contrast to TNotW, I would have been much happier with it.