Title: The Dragon Warrior
Series: The Dragon Warrior, #1
Author: Katie Zhao
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Kids
Publishing Date: October 15th 2019
Age Category & Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Synopsis: 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?
Inspired by Chinese mythology, this richly woven contemporary middle-grade fantasy, full of humor, magic, and heart, will appeal to readers who love Roshani Chokshi and Sayantani DasGupta.
**I want to apologize for missing my stop on the #DragonWarriorTour. I have read this book right on time but I suddenly had to take a break from social media. By the time I came back, I couldn’t actually write to the point that I now have 7 pending reviews to finish. And thank you so much to Shut Up, Shealea and Bloomsbury for providing me an ARC of this book for the blog tour. This did not affect nor influence my review.**
I couldn’t be more grateful that I have read this book at the time when I was really feeling down. Dragon Warrior is such a fun and exciting book – though it has its fair share of stressful and heartbreaking moments, and it was just the perfect book to fill one’s heart and lift one’s spirit!
BLENDING OF FANTASY AND REALITY, LOVE LETTER TO IMMIGRANTS AND DIASPORA, SPOTLIGHT ON CHINESE CULTURE & MYTHOLOGY
Dragon Warrior easily blends reality and fantasy, and being in this world is quite an exhilarating and magical experience. It is set in the real world, specifically San Francisco, with a secret society called Jade Society, which originated from China, whose members are trained to fight demons and are allied to the gods and dragons. Dragon Warrior takes us into an epic quest – traveling from different Chinatowns to the majestic island of gods, of a 12 year-old Faryn Liu, a multiracial (Chinese, Turkish, Egyptian, and Greek) who is together with her family, treated as an outcast by their society but turned out to be the legendary Heaven Breaker.
Dragon Warrior is a huge love letter to the Chinese community especially to the diaspora and immigrants. It shows issues diaspora and immigrants often face and feel. Aside from giving huge spotlight to Chinese culture and Chinese mythology, Zhao explores bullying, sexism and colorism within their community. It shows how such negatively affects a kid’s life and how they see themselves and those around them.
IMMERSIVE WRITING, AN AMAZING BUNCH OF GODS AND HUMANS, COMPLEX RELATIONSHIPS
Katie Zhao’s writing easily drawn me into its world, making me instantly invested and sweeping me into an epic adventure. Dragon Warrior is fast-paced, exciting, will make your blood pumping with adrenaline rush, imaginative, but will also make you feel the danger and stress that is present to any epic quest. I love the plot and I was kept entertained at all times with all the humor being thrown in every side and plot twists I didn’t expect.
Dragon Warrior also shows us what it means to be a warrior, a friend, a family, a human. It teaches us to forgive, to learn to accept ourselves, that it’s okay not to fit to the mold your society wants you to fit in as shown by Faryn, despite being treated with prejudice because of her different appearance (darker skin, brownish hair than most Chinese), and how Faryn is physically stronger than her brother who is smarter. The Liu siblings break barriers and tells us that these are normal and it’s okay not to fit to the role your society wants you to assume. And it shows that blood is not the only thing that can determine who your family are.
Dragon Warrior is packed with complex characters and complex relationships which I really loved – from the friendship of Faryn and Moli, to the sibling relationship of Faryn and Alex, to their relationship with their grandfather and father (and I have to mention that I have a soft spot for their grandfather). I liked the complexity of Faryn’s character – just like all the other characters, how she was presented as strong and powerful but with a lot of soft spots and seeing her journey of learning and growing. I also loved how normal the interaction of gods and humans (part of society) in this book. The gods never failed to intrigue me. I enjoyed seeing their distinct characteristics – from those who are good to those who are bad, and loved that there was no shortage of gods to meet in this book.
Dragon Warrior is one of those Middle Grade books we all have been waiting for: diverse, discussing serious and important issues to younger audience, adventurous, fun, and packed with values. Big in diversity, mythology, and adventure, this is surely perfect for fans of Rick Riordan. And if you are a Chinese, a diaspora, an immigrant, this book is written for you. I highly recommend!
Katie Zhao is a 2017 graduate of the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English and Political Science, and a 2018 Masters of Accounting at the same university. She is the author of Chinese #ownvoices middle grade fantasy THE DRAGON WARRIOR (Bloomsbury Kids, October 2019 & 2020), as well as a young adult author.
☕ Book Geek Musings
☕ The Sparrow’s Perch
☕ Your Tita Kate
☕ #CBTTC Twitter chat, hosted by Caffeine Book Tours (@CaffeineTours): 9 PM Philippine time (PHT) or 9 AM Eastern Standard Time (EST)
Have you read The Dragon Warrior? Did you enjoy it? What’s your favorite adventurous MG book? Share your thoughts below!