I am so excited to share with you my review for The Dragon Warrior e-ARC, which will be released October 15, 2019. This is a novel that I connected to. I want to start by sharing a personal story.
At the age of eight, I immigrated to Canada from China with my parents. I was in a new country surrounded by a language I could barely understand. I picked up English quickly, and it was at least in part because I fell in love with reading. There was a small library in my ESL (English as a Second Language) class and I looked forward to choosing a new book to bring home every day.
Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I continued to read a lot, but I saw a gap in the books that I read and the movies and TV shows that were out there. There were very few books about people like me: people who had black hair and yellow skin, who looked Chinese but spoke English. I remember being super interested in TV shows that had a Chinese character… even if the character was just a secondary role and had no personality.
Thankfully, now in YA (and Children’s literature in general) I’m seeing many more Chinese characters. I love seeing these characters in major or even leading roles, and I love reading stories inspired by Chinese mythologies that brings me memories from my childhood.
Anyway, rant over. Getting on with the show!
Title: The Dragon Warrior
Author: Katie Zhao
Publisher: Bloomsbury Kids
Publication date: October 15, 2019
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
As a member of the Jade Society, twelve-year-old Faryn Liu dreams of honoring her family and the gods by becoming a warrior. But the Society has shunned Faryn and her brother Alex ever since their father disappeared years ago, forcing them to train in secret.
Then, during an errand into San Francisco, Faryn stumbles into a battle with a demon–and helps defeat it. She just might be the fabled Heaven Breaker, a powerful warrior meant to work for the all-mighty deity, the Jade Emperor, by commanding an army of dragons to defeat the demons. That is, if she can prove her worth and find the island of the immortals before the Lunar New Year.
With Alex and other unlikely allies at her side, Faryn sets off on a daring quest across Chinatowns. But becoming the Heaven Breaker will require more sacrifices than she first realized . . . What will Faryn be willing to give up to claim her destiny?
Inspired by Chinese mythology, this richly woven contemporary middle-grade fantasy, full of humor, magic, and heart, will appeal to readers who love Roshani Chokshi and Sayantani DasGupta.
I loved that this novel was inspired by Asian mythology! Erlang Shen, Nezha, and Guanyin were in my favourite childhood stories, and it was amazing to see these Chinese mythology figures come back to life in this novel. I also loved how these folk tales were incorporated in a way that is relevant for the modern audience. For example, there was one scene where Guanyin rode away on a cloud while sending text messages on her cell phone, which I thought was brilliant and hilarious.
I liked the main character, Faryn, who was brave, intelligent, and full of girl power. It was empowering to watch this girl kick butt! I also liked the dynamic between Faryn and her kid brother Alex. They loved to tease each other, but at the same time you could tell that they loved each other a lot.
Family was a strong, recurring theme in this novel, which I loved. Although The Dragon Warrior took place in the U.S. and featured a main character who spoke more English than Mandarin, I loved how it highlighted family which is a strong value in Chinese culture.
This was a fast-paced novel that definitely did not lack in action and plot twists! There was never a dull moment.
Lastly, I loved all the Mandarin words sprinkled throughout the text, from sun-nu-er (grand-daughter) to baozi (steamed bun), which brought all the feels for my home country :’)
As much as I loved all the Chinese mythology interwoven with the plot and the world building, I wasn’t too clear about how magic worked in this novel. In some cases it seemed like praying to the deities was able to solve some of the problems…. but not others. Why not pray about everything? This part got me a bit haha.
There was a teeny tiny element of romance in The Dragon Warrior that I couldn’t get into yet. Then again the romance was really just in its beginning and it seems like there will be a second book coming up…… so I will wait to see what happens!
If you’re looking for a fun adventure featuring an awesome Chinese-American heroine, and a whole cast of Chinese mythological deities, then The Dragon Warrior should be on your shelf!
About the Author
Katie Zhao is a 2017 graduate of the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English and Political Science, and a 2018 Masters of Accounting at the same university. She is the author of Chinese #ownvoices middle grade fantasy THE DRAGON WARRIOR (Bloomsbury Kids, October 2019 & 2020), as well as a young adult author. She is a mentor for Author Mentor Match. She is currently open to freelance editorial services for young adult and middle grade manuscripts.
About the Blog Tour
Thank you to Shealea and Caffeine Book Tours for hosting this awesome blog tour! Please see the graphic below for the blog tour schedule. Click here to read the blog tour launch post.
Lastly, if you are curious about this book, check out the #CBTTC Twitter Chat that will take place October 12! (Info below!)