Book Review – Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor

Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor
by Xiran Jay Zhao

Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor by Xiran Jay Zhao book cover

Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor
by Xiran Jay Zhao

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Book Description:

12-year-old Zack never had many opportunities to learn about his Chinese heritage. His single mom was busy enough making sure they got by, and his schools never taught anything except Western history and myths. So Zack is woefully unprepared when he discovers he was born to host the spirit of the First Emperor of China for a vital mission: sealing the leaking portal to the Chinese underworld before the upcoming Ghost Month blows it wide open.

The mission takes an immediate wrong turn when the First Emperor botches his attempt to possess Zack’s body and binds to Zack’s AR gaming headset instead, leading to a battle where Zack’s mom’s soul gets taken by demons. Now, with one of history’s most infamous tyrants yapping in his headset, Zack must journey across China to heist magical artifacts and defeat figures from history and myth, all while learning to wield the emperor’s incredible water dragon powers.

And if Zack can’t finish the mission in time, the spirits of the underworld will flood into the mortal realm, and he could lose his mom forever.

My Take:

I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing.
I voluntarily read and reviewed a copy of this book.
All thoughts and opinions are my own.

SK Book Review - Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor

Amazing world-building, blending the real with the created.

I read and LOVED Iron Widow. In this unrelated book by the same author, we get the same talent for world-building and story creation in using what is real, while also enhancing and subverting it to the authors will. We can all easily accept the idea of an incredibly sophisticated VR headset because a. we have a certain level of this available to us now and b. movies and stories have forever been prophesizing technology long before it existed. But, what the author does so well is take those things we do know and bends them to their (the author’s) will. It is so fun to read and dive right into the adventure with the characters.

Also, the chapter names are just an added bonus!

Grabs you from the start and never lets up!

The book starts out with Zachary despairing over the lunch his mom packed him for school. By the end of the first chapter, we have established a new side character, a pseudo-villain, a mysterious voice in Zach’s head, and an epic video game battle that is taking place with outside of the game! Things just continue from there. This incredible action story has valuable lessons throughout and makes you question what you really know to be true and what the possibilities could be.

The Final Verdict

SandyKay Book Rating Scale by stars

My rating: 4.5 stars

Would I recommend? Yes

I highly recommend this book for fans of adventures,
gaming, and catching your own pocket monsters!

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