Review: THE POPPY WAR (THE POPPY WAR #1)

Bewertung: 4 von 5.

by R.F. Kuang



19/25 (76%), 4 stars.
description
The first part of this one is a bland The Name of the Wind fanfiction. Nothing more. That’s what I have to say before delving into depths of my review: It is the characters, the character relationships, and central plot lines from Rothfuss’s masterpiece, transported into a Chinese setting. The second and third parts are an original and haunting, sometimes too gruesome depiction of war and violence, but the first one is a poorly disguised copy of TNOTW.
description
Why do I say that? Let’s start with the characters at Sinegard, shall we? Rin herself is quite original, though she does of course have the same background as Kvothe: she’s part of a minority, she’s also a peasant, she’s also an orphan which means that she faces the same struggles Kvothe had to face when coming to the Academy. There is a teacher who tries everything to sabotage her education (Jun/Hemme).
description
There is a rivalry/hatred with the son of an important nobleman (Nezha/Ambrose) that escalates so much that as one of its consequences, the protagonist isn’t allowed to enter a place what’s central to fulfill his desires and to finish his education (Jun’s martial arts lessons / The Archives). There is that odd teacher (Jiang/Elodin) who does strange stuff and whose lessons are a joke, that teacher only the protagonist can build up a relationship with, that teacher who teaches that strange subject nobody decides to study in the end (Lore/ Naming).
description
There’s that other teacher who supports the protagonist (Irjah/Kilvin), whose lessons offer a respectable field of study that seems attractive to the protagonist. The protagonist has to choose between him and the odd teacher. And so on. Sounds like a lot of similarities? Yes. Too many similarities? Hell, yes! The entire first part of this books is a completely no-go for me. It’s completely natural that books who have a school setting have familiar plot lines, but this is too much. I’m not okay with that.
description
When Rin finally left school because shit happened, things got original, and they got better. I never came to like Rin as a character, but I like the way in which Rebecca Kuang wrote her development, I like the way this world collapses, I like the way the characters are forced to realize they’re just pawns on a chess board. The plot of the second 50% of the book is excellent, the way the horrors of war are depicted is haunting. And sometimes too brutal. Yes, too brutal for ME, of all people. I’ve spent this week writing a colossal, fifty-page-battle with murder and massacre en masse and I have to say: the violence in this one was at times too much for me. It serves a purpose, of course, and it does what the author wants: it explains Rin’s decisions, it underlines the horror of war, but still, I think some things don’t need to be said and shown as graphic as it was done here.
description
The dialogues are excellent, the writing style makes this a fast-paced, true page-turner, the ending is a big, fat BOOM, but it lacks twists and turns. There’s nothing particularly surprising in here, even the Empress revelation was shown before, and as I said, a lot of the characters are from The Name of the Wind. At least Denna isn’t here. All in all this still gets four stars, thanks to the excellent second half and the superb writing style, but the first part really bothers me.
description
Setting 4/5
Dialogue 4/5
Characters 3/5
Writing Style (4/5)
Plot 4/5
19/25

6 Kommentare zu „Review: THE POPPY WAR (THE POPPY WAR #1)

  1. Nooo! The first half of the book is the best part! I absolutely loved the school setting, and the weird mentor and the rivalries are such wonderful tropes that didn’t mind at all that this was something I’d seen plenty of times before, not just in The Name of the Wind. Okay, „didn’t mind“ is an understatement. I loved that those tropes were in here! 😍😂😂 I still felt like they were executed differently enough in this book to keep me on my toes! And I also liked how much of Rin’s education we actually got to see in contrast to Kvothe’s. After all, Kvothe spent more time running after Denna than recounting what he was actually doing at the University 🙄 But I guess I do see why those similarities bothered you, even though I personally loved them!

    And I did like the war themes in the second half of the book, too. Although I do kind of wonder whether that ending might have overpowered Rin a bit too much, if you know what I mean…

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    1. I know what you mean 😄 I just didn’t feel that it was differently enough, obviously 😂 And overpowered? Understatement of the century😂 SPOILER: But her transformation into a mass murderer was convincingly done. She was always some kind of fanatic, not really close to people, so her ending up this way was nicely done.

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      1. I definitely see where you’re coming from! I do tend to go a bit blind regarding originality when it comes to my favorite tropes 😁😊
        SPOILER: And yes, I also thought Rin’s character arc was completely believable! I just kind of wish there had been more of a boundary to the type of magic that is possible. I mean, the ability to wipe out an entire civilization in the blink of an eye is kind of extreme… Wouldn’t badly damaging the capital city have been enough? It felt almost too easy. But maybe that’s also the point of the story. I guess all kinds of atrocities seem almost too easy to the people committing them, which is why we have these problems in the first place. Still, I’m not sure how much I like all this Phoenix business…

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      2. Yes, there’s a lot of Mary Sueism in this book. And just wiping out the Mugen army apparently wasn’t an option… also, The atrocities, yes. Basically, the enemies reach every capital so fast and so surprising that… it almost gave me Reaper at the Gates-vibes.

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