Happy Friday y’all! I really wanted to get this review out on Wednesday but man y’all, this book took me a little longer to read than I expected (not because I didn’t like it or anything, but because I was too tired to read on Tuesday, didn’t read too much on Wednesday, and then finally was able to carve out reading time yesterday). Iron Widow was one of those books that pulled me in because of the amazing cover and kept me in because of the incredible writing and the really cool plot. Thank you so much to Penguin Teen/Penguin Random House Canada and Netgalley for letting me read an eARC of this book! Iron Widow came out on September 21, so make sure you go grab a copy of the book as soon as you’re done reading my review!
Iron Widow 4/5 Stars
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
This was a super intense (in that there was always something happening, and it was always something BIG) book and man, I was a fan. Also, y’all, lots of potential triggers here, so make sure you’re checking the trigger warnings if you’re at all worried (I saw a good list on one of the first reviews on Goodreads, so I would definitely go check those out). The whole boys transform robots into fighting machines to save the planet from aliens by using the life force from girls concept is so cool- like it would suck if you were a girl who was born into this kind of a world, but reading it was super cool. I’m surprised that Zetian was the only person who had ever questioned authority/asked why so many girls were being killed, but man, I guess propaganda is a really strong tool when used correctly. Characters wise, Zetian annoyed me sometimes but I thought she was a great main character overall. Li Shimin didn’t really seem to have too much of a personality to me (honestly, I can’t really say that it felt like any of the other characters had real personalities), but I think that makes sense and it was done in a way that Zetian’s story/personality/reasons for becoming who she was and doing what she was doing really stood out and made sense. I liked that this book was different and instead of having a love triangle, they had a poly relationship- it worked for them and it fit really well into the way that the characters were written. Plot wise, I was really happy with most of the book- there were some details/sections where I got slightly bored pacing wise and wished things would be just a tiny bit faster (mainly in the last 1/3 or so of the book), but that wasn’t too big of a deal. Overall, I really enjoyed Iron Widow and I cannot wait to read book 2!