The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao
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.
Expected publication: October 15th 2019 by Bloomsbury USA Kids
Before I start my review, I just have to say how much I love that cover! It’s so perfect and I love that I have an idea of what Faryn was supposed to look like.
This was a fast paced book, full of adventure and culture. I thought the author did an amazing job with explaining all the gods/goddesses and the demons. I’m not as familiar with Chinese culture and mythology as I would like to be, but I was definitely able to follow this and also learn from it.
Faryn lives with her brother, Alex, and Ye Ye (grandpa) in Chinatown San Francisco. The Jade Society is a group of warriors that protect people from demons. They teach their boys to fight, but not the girls. They are to go to school and become doctors or something else their families can brag about. Ye Ye has always trained Faryn though. Alex, too, but he isn’t that good. He’s super smart and that is his strength. Their mom died while giving birth to Alex. Their father left on a quest and never came back. He did leave behind his notebook and the kids try to track everything in there on a map. Because Ba (their father) left, the Jade Society completely shunned the family. They are treated terribly by everyone. Ye Ye is also sick. Faryn snuck out during the beginning of the New Year celebrations. Demons haven’t been seen in years. The warriors have slacked on training and now just care about making money. But demons are strongest during the fifteen days of the New Year celebrations (this is the year of the horse). While out getting medicine, Faryn sees what she quickly realizes is a real demon. She starts to attack him and things she’s doing well, but he doesn’t die. A man and his dog show up and end the demon that she injured. Faryn thinks he must have been a god.
While having a celebration in the neighborhood, all the boys and men take turns trying to pick up the Fenghuang. This weapon is said to be only picked up by whoever is to be the next Heaven Breaker. No one is able to lift it. Girls don’t even try. During the celebration, a god shows up and says that the Heaven Breaker is among them and they are needed. Demons are appearing all over again and things are not going well. He says that the Heaven Breaker helped him kill a demon the night before. The Heaven Breaker can control dragons and is said to be the leader of the Jade Emperor’s army. The god gives a quest with different clues to follow. After everyone is gone, Faryn tries to pick up Fenghuang and can’t. She prays to the goddess/gods to have the strength if she really is meant to be the Heaver Breaker. She tries again and is able to pick it up. Right as another demon appears. Faryn is able to kill it with a little help.
Guanyin, a goddess, gives Faryn and Alex a chariot with horses that can fly. Unfortunately for Faryn, Guanyin give the job of charioteer to Moli, Faryn’s ex best friend. Faryn and Alex are always bullies and Moli was horrible to them. The kids take off and have to battle through a lot to get to their destination. Along the way, they pick up Ren, a boy who is also a dragon. They battle against demons, other boys trying to become Heaven Breaker, and even some lower deities. They get some help from the gods, but the kids are also learning that power can sometimes corrupt people. Things do not go as planned and they are left with more problems than they had before leaving.
I think it’s best to go in with as little as possible to enjoy this book. I will warn you that there is bullying, fighting, betrayal, and deaths. And some of those deaths hurt.
I gave this book 4 1/2 stars rounded up to 5. I am definitely looking forward to book two. Thank you to bloomsbury and the Edelweiss for my copy for review.
Have you read The Dragon Warrior? Is it on your TBR?