The Dragon Warrior
by Katie Zhao
“A debut novel inspired by Chinese mythology, this middle-grade fantasy follows an outcast as she embarks on a quest to save the world from demons—perfect for fans of Aru Shah and the End of Time and The Serpent’s Secret.”
I should really read more about a book before I pick it up.
As a member of the Jade Society, twelve-year-old Faryn Liu dreams of honoring her family and the gods by becoming a warrior. But the Society has shunned Faryn and her brother Alex ever since their father disappeared years ago, forcing them to train in secret.
Then, during an errand into San Francisco, Faryn stumbles into a battle with a demon—and helps defeat it. She just might be the fabled Heaven Breaker, a powerful warrior meant to work for the all-mighty deity, the Jade Emperor, by commanding an army of dragons to defeat the demons. That is, if she can prove her worth and find the island of the immortals before the Lunar New Year.
With Alex and other unlikely allies at her side, Faryn sets off on a daring quest across Chinatowns. But becoming the Heaven Breaker will require more sacrifices than she first realized. . . What will Faryn be willing to give up to claim her destiny?
Review spoiler: I loved this book.
The tempo and pace of the story was so good. The writing during intense (i.e. fight) scenes was just right and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I love it.
This book also finds that elusive balance between simple entertainment and education. Throughout this story there are MANY references to customs, traditions, beliefs, imagery, and more within the Chinese heritage. Phrases or new words are thrown into the story and then, with perfect timing and tact, the author lets the reader know what that new word means and how it fits into the story. You barely realize you didn’t know it two sentences ago.
As a whole, this book is similar to the Aru Shah series I am also enjoying, but Ms. Zhao does that education bit I just mentioned just a little better. While Reading about Aru Shah, there were several times when I had to find some outside sources to help me understand all the new information I was getting.
I was a bit taken aback by some of the dialogue within the book – young teens calling the others “losers” and other names, blaming and lying about the others, and so on. I’m sure this is just me as a mom ready to stop them from this type of thing. Maybe it comes off more relatable or funny to the Middle Grade audience for whom it is intended?
Lastly, I was incredibly disappointed by the ending. [read with intended sarcasm, please.] The cliffhanger at the end of the book is very frustrating, because who knows when the next book will be released?!?
The Final Verdict
My rating: 4.5 stars
Would I recommend? Yes