The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Emma, you ask me. Why are you writing this review at 3 am on a Thursday? The answer is because I literally could not put this book down until I absolutely had to.

I say “absolutely had to” because, for the first time ever, I have DNF a book at 85%. Not because it was bad. In fact this book was dense and imaginative and remarkable and one of the most impressive stories I’ve read in ages. It was also brutal and gruesome and horrifying, in ways that impressed upon me deeply. This book is about war at its ugliest. For most of the book I thought I could handle it, but there came a point where the sheer brutality meant that I had to put it down and take a break. There’s a good chance I return to this book and this series later on, but for me personally at this point in time, this book isn’t what I need.

I’m sure I’ll return to Rin and Altan and the Thirteenth Divison eventually, though. The story is as gripping as it is difficult, and exists as a stark and important reminder of some of the more awful realities of legitimate history under the guise of fiction.

Also, if anyone happens to be reading this review before reading the book: PLEASE, PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO CONTENT WARNINGS! I wasn’t fully aware of how truly brutal this book gets, and I really wish that I had been aware of some of the content before proceeding with reading the novel. That being said, MAJOR CW for: war, genocide, graphic depictions of mass murder, torture, self-harm, abuse, sexism, racism, ableism, rape (not directly shown but still horrifying)

Published by Emma Wolfe

My name is Emma, and I am a I'm a Clinical Psychology PhD hopeful doing research in Boston. I am also a book reviewer/blogger in my spare time. I specialize in science fiction and fantasy, but enjoy genre-bending literature of all kinds. I am also an amateur creative writer; my work has been published in national undergraduate literary magazines such as The Albion Review and the Allegheny Review.

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