The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang
Rin struggles through an opium haze to come to terms with her horrific actions ending the Third Poppy War, and fights to maintain her power and her sanity. The only way she can reconcile her actions is to become a weapon—point her and aim. But who will she choose to wield her?
I wanted to love this so much more than I did. The Poppy Warwas one of my favorite books of last year, and I was super excited by all of the glowing reviews. However, this left me underwhelmed.
Don’t get me wrong—or misinterpret those three stars—this was a good book. It just wasn’t one that I was in love with. So it took me a bajillion years (12 days) to read it.
At times I was sucked in, and then my enthusiasm would turn into a slog as I waded through what felt like eons of Rin vomiting, Rin whining, Rin falling into her own vomit, Rin whining some more, Rin bitching at others for whining, Rin jumping from one cause to another, swayed more easily than a dandelion in the wind.
Basically, I was just exhausted by Rin.
Rin hating her power. Rin getting cut off from her power and wanting it back. Rin getting her power and it not being enough.
Rin is literally that kid with the grass is always greener attitude, easily swayed by other’s goals and opinions because it’s so much easier to have someone think for you than to make decisions on your own…and complain about the decisions those same people made because you ceded your own agency.
I was so frustrated why everyone was in love with her/fascinated by her/wanted her/was willing to die for her. I just…I dunno?
Also, I was frustrated by how many of the characters felt under-developed. They existed to further Rin’s development, even when her development would have been served better by grinding her face into her own vomit.
So enough of my bitching.
I did enjoy the overall plot. It was exciting and went to some verrrrrry dark places, and traveled all over the breadth of Nikara with a lot of different enemies and implications and twists and turns. Venka was one of my favorite characters, although I wished that she had been used more, and than Kitay also had more screen time (and less Nezha and Altan because fuck them). The Hesperian allegory was fascinating and the parallels to history were really thought-provoking.
The book thoroughly explored the consequences of sacrifice, and how a minor sacrifice for someone can have disastrous effects for those who aren’t in power.
I just wanted…more? More of Nikara. More world-building—well, more exploration of the world-building.
I don’t know if I’ll continue with the third book, however, mostly because Rin’s character arc (or maybe just her) became really, really boring to me.
But don’t let my underwhelmed thoughts deter you. Check it out for yourself.
I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.
Also, check out my Goodreads reviews for ~spoilers~