Better Than the Movies
One star because the main character has a genuinely touching conflict she’s trying to resolve. One star because the main romance is cute if visible from a billion billion miles away.
Minus all the other ones for the multiple toxic tropes that we have to wade through which make literally zero sense in the context of the book.
UGH felt so bad but this book just didn’t do it for me at all. It started out promising–Zhao’s writing style is fluid and imminently readable, and the set up for the world had the right blend of Handmaid’s Tale + eldritch jaegers + vengeance.
But the plot that I thought might take an entire book to finish wrapped up within the first few chapters, and from there it was just one thing after another thing so quickly that I lost all sense of gravitas and scale. Compare with The Last Graduate, where a single event requires pretty much the entire book to plan out and accomplish–the stakes get higher and higher the more that the characters put in effort, because there is so much more to lose.
While I admit that some things did surprise me ([was not expecting “polyamorous throuple” as the relationship end game]), on the whole it was like Chekhov’s Plot Gun. As soon as a topic or idea or issue was brought up, you expected that it would happen because there wasn’t any time to build up the context for said event. It’s also hard to say what exactly are and aren’t the parameters for jaeger Chrysalises–they tended to have whatever power was necessary to deal with the situation at hand.
Unlikely to read on, but might read a summary of the ending to see what happens!