To tell the truth, I’ve not read any of the author’s previous novels nor have I ever felt interested to. But this novella instantly captured my interest with that gorgeous cover, and maybe that’s me being vain, but I was captivated and the premise also sounded quite promising. So I was very happy when I got the ARC and even more when I picked to read it on the first day of Asian Heritage month.
I have to admit I felt slightly misguided by the blurb. I’m a huge fan of martial arts movies, so I went into this book expecting a lot of fun action sequences but I was disappointed because it isn’t that kind of a story. It was much more of a found family type situation, with lots of humorous banter and a perilous journey for survival. I won’t say I got bored, but the plot did feel mundane at times; but I was much more fascinated when the discussions turned towards the effects of war and its collateral damage, the innocent lives lost, the loss of faith amounting from such experiences and how it changes a person. I also loved that despite the world building not being the strong suit here(probably because it’s such a small book), it’s very queernormative.
It’s an eclectic group of characters but we only get to know two of them very well. I don’t want to talk details and give away spoilers, but they were all on a spectrum from naïveté to shrewdness, patient to temperamental, and it was fun reading their conversations. But I also found it interesting that the author didn’t shy away from showing us that survival came first to these characters, and even their bond might strain if circumstances go unfavorable.
In the end, I had fun reading this little novella and the ending in particular was a very nice emotional touch, leaving us with just enough speculation for a possible sequel. I only wish I had gone into it with the right expectations so that I could have appreciated it more.
PS: Thank you to Netgalley and Tor.com for providing me with this advance copy. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.