The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

Summary:
When Rin aced the Keju, the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies, it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard, the most elite military school in Nikan, was even more surprising.
But surprises aren’t always good.
Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.
For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .
Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.
The Poppy War (The Poppy War, #1)Review:
Another book down for the BookTube SFF Awards reading! I’ve been slowly trying to get to all the books nominated for these awards. The Poppy War is one I’ve heard nothing but good things about. So, I was surprised to find that I didn’t like it as much as I anticipated I was going to.
This is an adult historical fantasy that had quite a lot going on. I thought I was going to get a story of our main character going away to school and learning about how to lead an army or something else political in her country. But instead I got that, plus some war.
I loved the main character. Rin was sassy and sarcastic and didn’t take anyone bullshit. Just because she was a war orphan didn’t mean that she didn’t earn her place in the school she’s come to. And she doesn’t let anyone push her around. I loved it. She made me laugh quite a few times.
But the further into the book we got, the less I liked the story. As the country starts going to war is when I started enjoying it less. There were a few parts I had to skip pages because it was too gruesome and graphic. I didn’t love that. I know it’s adult fantasy, but I’ve read my fair share that didn’t have scenes like The Poppy War.
Aside from this, I thought the story was interesting and cool, but things happened so quickly. I would have liked for the story to slow down just a bit and get more into the details that happened in the beginning. I thought the mythology and the world were really intricate and interesting and thought I didn’t love The Poppy War I’m still planning to read the sequel.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.