Iron Widow
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ibsn13: 9780735269934

Big robots,

fighting off aliens,

piloted by pairs of young men and women (mostly boys and girls), with the men draining the life force from the women (often killing them in the process).

Wu Zetian, eventually becoming the Iron Widow, is sold to the army by her family to become a concubine-pilot. She has a plan to avenge her sister, burn the system to the ground and build it back up again.

Dayummmmmm this was good.

I’ve never read YA before and it seems like I’ve been missing out. Iron Widow felt so raw and exploding with anger and love in equal measure. The action scenes moving between vivid descriptions of the pair-piloted robots smashing aliens into bits and Wu Zetian’s experiences in the dreamy “mind realm” shared with her fellow pilot were really cool. They kept the energy high while allowing the Iron Widow, as well as the reader, to be shown instead of told about her partner’s backstory.

Wu Zetian’s transformation into the Iron Widow was riveting. I loved watching her go from being very small and powerless, fighting her way to the top and forcing everyone else to respect the strength she had all along. The romantic relationships that evolve along the way felt real but also ripped straight from a k-drama in a way that I loved. I wasn’t planning on being very enthusiastic about the romance in this but watching these relationships evolve over the course of the novel was very enjoyable. I can’t lie, I was swooning over these men.

Well, Xiran Jay Zhao gained one more die-hard fan today. I can’t wait to read her other novel Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor soon and pick up the sequel to Iron Widow as soon as it’s released next year.

I’ve opened my mind to the world of YA - things will never be the same.

Wish me luck.