Rin is a war orphan who does everything she can to escape the life of an opium-smuggler’s errand girl and become one of Nikara’s elite trained soldiers. With the country drifting once again toward war, Rin discovers that learning to fight is not the only thing she can do. She can access the gods and hone their powers, though she may possibly lose her mind and soul in the bargain.
That is a terrible description for what is a fantastic book. I hardly know what to say about The Poppy War except that I loved it. It’s messy, gruesome, and the very definition of shades of grey through all types of physical and psychological warfare. Let me say this up front: trigger warning for self-harm and violence against women. This violence (and other violence, of which there is a lot) is written both graphically and tactfully, so that while Kuang never turns away from the reality of warfare, she doesn’t glorify it either. Likely I wouldn’t have been able to read it if she had. Even with all the violence and triggers (for me, it’s drugs, which are a big thematic element), this book was worth it. This mini-review sucks, but I definitely think y’all should give this one a chance. Read the first few chapters and see if it strikes a chord with you. It only gets better from there.