GENRE: Science Fiction, LGBTQ+, Dystopian
“What am I supposed to do?”
Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao was an great read. I normally do not read YA anymore, but let’s be real, this book is more New Adult with its very dark tones and subject matter. I had such a great time participating in the Tandem Collective’s Read-a-Long for this novel, being able to participate in discussions with other Canadian readers, reading the same book with me was just so much fun and a wonderful experience.
Now back to my review! I just want to say, I really think Iron Widow is what Suzanne Collins wishes The Hunger Games was. Not to bash The Hunger Games, that is not the point, it is just that this novel surpasses it incredibly with its nuance and darkness. For a novel that was labeled YA, the subject matter was incredibly diverse and created fruitful discussion. I particularly enjoyed the female anger depicted in the story, in contrast to the MC’s (Zetian) lack of bigger picture view. Without giving spoilers, while Zetian knows she has been wronged and mistreated for being a girl, she doesn’t notice that her mother also suffered in that system, and feels anger towards her. She notices that her family is only pretending to care about her now that she will be the one to bring money home, but doesn’t make the connection that perhaps that is the only reason they gave her elder sister any attention before. Zetian as a narrator isn’t perfect and I absolutely loved it!
I also want to mention Xiran Hay Zhao’s writing style, I personally do not tend to enjoy first person novels, especially in this genre and without a mixed perspective being present, but their writing is so well done, and paced so well, that in moments of anger, or anxiety, I felt that way along with Zetian.
I for one, cannot wait to pick up the second novel, and continue on with this SAGA. There are other aspects of the novel such as the presence of a poly relationship which I was so pleasantly surprised to find considering the genre!