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Over absolutely unjustified allegations of racism (the book hadn’t even been published yet), the author herself voluntarily “apologized” for her racism in her book and withdrew it from publication.
Horrible mistake. Grievous error.
Fortunately, not long later she realized this was all part of some ridiculous campaign against her that had nothing to do with racist themes in her story (the story was based on elements of the author’s ethnic and national past) and everything to do with the bad character of her opponents. She went ahead and released her book for publication. That was November 2019.
So how did the book do when real people read and reviewed it:
“Zhao shines in the fast-paced and vivid combat scenes, which lend a cinematic quality that pulls readers in.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Zhao is a master writer who weaves a powerful tale of loyalty, honor, and courage through a strong female protagonist. . . . Readers will love the fast-paced energy and plot twists in this adventure-packed story.”—SLJ
“Blood Heir is cinematic storytelling at its best. A stunning new voice in YA, Amélie Wen Zhao has drawn characters who are as complex and captivating as the fantastical world she’s built. Get ready for a retelling like you’ve never seen before.”
—Adrienne Young, New York Times bestselling author of Sky in the Deep and The Girl the Sea Gave Back
“Sure to keep readers turning pages…. Perfect for fans of Amy Tintera or Sarah J. Maas, but readers should prepare for plenty of heartbreak.” — Booklist
“[A] pointed exploration into the consequences of exploitation and the defining nature of choices.” — Publishers Weekly
“Ana is not the typical damsel in distress.” — Kirkus Reviews
I’ve never been impressed by the “big buzz” reviews, but then there are others.
For myself, I’d have to say that while I can see a lot of the personality of the author in her writing, the characters weren’t entirely compelling. It was indeed a YA novel, and while, many of which serve adults well, they don’t always “do it” for me.
Yes, I can see how some uninformed minds might consider this racist, but human trafficking, exploitation, and totalitarianism are themes replete in human history. This is a wider tale of humanity’s cruelty to others and should be read in such a context.
Probably the greatest victim is our heroine herself Ana who, all things considered, could have used a break every once in a while.
As of Amazon reviews in general, out of 497 global ratings (as of this writing), 84% were four and five-star, which any author should be proud to receive.
I think a lot of reviews, like mine, were shaded by the initial controversy, which is a shame, because it means in some since, the Visigoths won. No, not in the ultimate sense, but enough to take away from a clean, pure assessment of the novel.
That is what good storytelling and real justice is all about.