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Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao -a review

iron widowIron Widow (Iron Widow #1) by Xiran Jay Zhao

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​

To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed. 

Published 28 September 2021|  Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia  |  RRP: AUD$18.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

But I have no faith in love. Love cannot save me.

I choose vengeance.

Kickass cover and a premise of a futuristic world inspired by Chinese historical personages and mythologies?! Bring it On! I was totally excited to start reading this book and before, I knew it, I have read for over an hour and 100+ pages have flown by. I was completely drawn into this world that has giant transforming robots and traditional Chinese fashion (I’m most fascinated by the hairdos!).

I hate the way I’ve contorted myself into what people think a girl should be, ready to please, ready to serve.

Yet I love the power it’s given me, a power that lies in being underestimated, in wearing assumptions as a disguise.

Each chapter was quite short but packed full of plot. The story just kept going and it was really hard to put down. The one thing that really surprised me in this first 100 pages was the protagonist’s anger. I knew she was after revenge (see book description) but she wasn’t just red hot with anger but she was blazing white with rage. Despite her tough exterior though, there were little peeps into her vulnerability and real person she is, if she just can be. These were developed a little further on in the book as she continued to fight for her right to live.

…there’s not a stratum of the world that doesn’t need girls. Maybe we’re devalued precisely because we’re so valuable. The world is too afraid of not being able to obtain and control us to respect our true worth.

And while our protagonist, Wu Zetian, fights to live, she also fights humanity’s enemies so she is surrounded my enemies without and within. Yet, there are some who truly cares about her and as she fights for herself, her ‘sisters’, and humanity, she drew those she loved closer to her. 

Love can be infinite, as much as your heart can open.

Iron Widow is a fast-paced immersive novel with twist upon twist (there is even a twist on the last page of the book!) that will keep you up past your bedtime. A truly gripping fantastical universe and I cannot wait for the sequel.

My thanks to Read3rz Re-Vu & Bloomsbury Australia for this copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

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