Mimi Yu dives deep into the world of the mystical, magical, and treacherous in The Girl King. The first in what I am sure will be a series of books highlighting girl power and can-do attitude.
If you are looking for a book chalk-full of family drama, slips, trips and falls into destiny, and a touch of magic and romance, then this book will fill your gas tank. Lu and Min are sisters. And while they share a blood tie, that’s about all they share. They are written as characters as different as different can be. But they both find themselves as sources of power and must decide on how they will wield that power.
Sprinkle in a boy (man) who not only can change into a wolf but might be the savior of all those animal spirits who once could meld with humans, and you have a recipe for epic warfare. While Lu chases her throne, she joins forces with Nok who is fighting his own demons. Nok has loves and losses along the way and just when you start to count him out, he appears back again. When he and Lu team up with a group of gods/demigods (not entirely sure what category to put them in) an epic battle ensues.
Overall, this book is well-done. Set in the oriental mode, you’ll find a lot of mysticism, flowy robes, and oriental settings. Don’t expect elaborate details and stunning scene setting like you see in Julie Dao’s novels, but there is enough here that the surroundings don’t fall flat. The characters are rounded and complete, although they do get a little predictable at times. It becomes obvious early in the book just what role the characters are going to play and therefore the movement of the plot is very dependent on the interactions within the cast circle then any character self-discovery.
The main two characters are evenly balanced between two girls and two boys with one of each tossed in at the end as the plot concludes. However, while the cover may appeal more to girls, there is enough action and adventure in the novel to not be so overpoweringly girlish that male readers won’t enjoy as well. The magic and fantasy in the book are pretty straightforward and easy to follow, so those readers not entrenched in the fantasy realms won’t feel lost or overpowered.
The Girl King is most definitely set up as the first in a series. In fact, the last few chapters are so concentrated on set up for the next novel that they did fall a little flat and felt as though they had less substance and more build up. Hopefully we won’t be left waiting too long for the next installment. Overall a good read for those ready to tuck in with a longer novel.
Review of an Advance Reading Copy
This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Profanity/Language: 7 religious exclamations; 10 mild obscenities; 4 derogatory names; 2 scatological words.
Violence/Gore: Bullets and arrows shot through air or aimed at persons; sparring with wooden swords; nails dug in deep to another’s skin; depictions of girl’s first menstruation; reference to men being killed in various accidents and battles; cup magically explodes inflicting cuts; 2-page attack by dogs with bloody injuries depicted; attempt to cut another with knife; murder committed by use of poison; prison guards beat prisoners; slap to face; multiple multi-page battles (Ranging from 2 to 20 pages) that are very graphic and violent in their depiction of injuries, death and carnage; soldiers discuss genocide.
Sex/Nudity: Several hugs and kisses; hand-holding; nuzzle another’s neck with nose; hands caress upper body of man; man attempts to sexually assault another man (stopped prior to act).
Mature Subject Matter:
Racial and socioeconomic conflicts; death; war; rape; abandonment; marriage infidelity; ethics; genocide; robbery; murder.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
References to opium use; drinking by young adults and adults of wine and home-brewed spirits; smoking.