Ahoy there me mateys! I received this fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .
Title: she who became the sun
Author: Shelley Parker-Chan
Publication Date: TODAY!! (hardback/e-book)
This book lured me in with its promise of a story of a girl who takes the place of her dead brother who had been destined for greatness. It is set during the timeframe leading to the founding of the Ming Dynasty in China. There is also LTGBQ+ representation. This should have been a recipe for love. Instead, I sadly got an abandoned ship at 32%.
To be fair, I loved the set up and the beginning of the novel. I enjoyed how the main character, Zhu, is so determined to live that she rejects her fate and steals the path of her dead brother. Is she really going against her fate or was the switch fated all along? I felt that her time in the famine and the destruction of her family was extremely evocative and engrossing. I also enjoyed her time in the monastery.
However, there are huge jumps in time where we miss Zhu’s personal development and this leads to a series of vignettes without the connective tissue. I wanted the missing sections and, frankly, found the given plot to be rather boring. The pace was uneven. Then the author chose to add in some new POVs. I didn’t mind the introduction to Ma but really didn’t enjoy the sections of the eunuch Ouyang which were tiresome. The last straw for me was how easily Zhu helped win her first battle. As the book progressed, Zhu accomplished her goals with very little insight into her thought-process and seemingly little hardship.
This book ended up not to me taste. But given how many five star reviews I have seen, I am in the minority. Arrr!
So lastly . . .
Thank you Macmillian/Tor-Forge!
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
“I refuse to be nothing…”
In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…
In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.
When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.
After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.
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