The Girl King by Mimi YuSister Review
This review is a combined effort between me and my sister. We read a book and review it by asking each other questions related to the title we are reviewing. The idea is to provide you with two different perspectives.
This review might contain spoilers! We might discuss any part of the story (sometimes the questions we ask each other might be general, while other times they might touch upon something specific about the ending, etc). If you have not read the book and do not wish for the story to be spoiled you might want to avoid this post!
Series: The Girl King #1
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing on January 8th 2019
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Buy on Bol.com, Buy on Book Depository
Two sisters become unwitting rivals in a war to claim the title of Emperor in this sweeping tale of ambition, sacrifice and betrayal for readers of Sabaa Tahir and Alwyn Hamilton.
All hail the Girl King.
Sisters Lu and Min have always understood their places as princesses of the Empire. Lu knows she is destined to become the dynasty's first female ruler, while Min is resigned to a life in her shadow. Then their father declares their male cousin Set the heir instead—a betrayal that sends the sisters down two very different paths.
Determined to reclaim her birthright, Lu goes on the run. She needs an ally—and an army—if she is to succeed. Her quest leads her to Nokhai, the last surviving wolf shapeshifter. Nok wants to keep his identity secret, but finds himself forced into an uneasy alliance with the girl whose family killed everyone he ever loved…
Alone in the volatile court, Min's hidden power awakens—a forbidden, deadly magic that could secure Set's reign…or allow Min to claim the throne herself. But there can only be one Emperor, and the sisters' greatest enemy could turn out to be each other.
Iris asks Merel:
As pumped as I was for this book, it took me quite some time to get into the story. Did you experience the same?
Yes, I did! I thought the book had a lot of potential, but I had quite a hard time getting into the story, so that was too bad. It also took me a lot time to get invested in the story. When I put the book down because I had something else to do, I never really felt the urge to pick up the book again.
The Girl King has three main characters, characters that I found hard to connect with. Part of it might have to do with the fact that it’s written in third person POV. What are your thoughts on this?
I also had a hard time connecting with the main characters. They felt distant to me, and reading about their stories made me feel rather detached. However, I don’t think it was the third person perspective, since many authors use it. Sarah J. Maas wrote her books in 3rd person POV and I most certainly did not have any trouble getting in to her books, or relating to her characters. I think for The Girl King it had more to do with the writing style, which wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.
What did you think of the Asian elements in the story? Did any stand out to you and/or what’s your favourite element?
I really liked the idea of it, since there are a lot of myths and legends in Asian culture/history that I’m not familiar with, so an Asian inspired fantasy sounded really interesting! I liked the elements that could be found throughout the novel, and I think it’s cool that she used those. I really liked the concept of the Kith in the story, and how there were all these different tribes. I loved finding out that the empire of the first flame used to have gifted Kith as well, namely the tiger, but that they lost the ability somehow. I think the storyline of the Kith made the book quite interesting.
The Girl King is another book in a (pretty long) line up of strong female heroine centred YA books. I think we can agree we both love a kickass heroine, where does this book rate in this line up?
Oh, I suck at these questions! For this one, I’ll be going with Lu, since I didn’t like Min very much to be honest… She annoyed me quite a lot. Lu is a badass! Not only is she good with a sword, she also has a sense of responsibility and loyalty. Moreover, I loved how she learned from her mistakes and the encounters she had. She did not blindly stick to her beliefs that her kingdom had been blameless in some of the darker, more ruthless events in the past. Once she learned the truth, she accepted it and learned to live with it, instead of denying it and insisting that the others were wrong.
In my opinion, Lu is pretty cool. Not just a badass, but also genuinely a good person. So, she ranks pretty high as a person! It’s just a bit harder to think of her when people ask me for some great heroines, since the book did not capture my full attention.
I liked how impulsive actions had consequences in the story, which leads to Lu to learn from her mistakes and confront her biases. What do you think about this?
It always feels good when you read about a character that learns from her mistakes and past, and Lu certainly learned a lot about herself during her journey. Not just Lu though, Nokhai also discovered a whole lot more about himself. I liked how they both developed throughout the story and became bigger than when they started. They learned truths about themselves, the other and the world.
All and all this book was a bit ‘meh’ for me. Tell me what was your favourite thing about The Girl King and what was your least favourite thing?
I know what you feel, since I pretty much felt the same. I was really excited for this release, and it felt a bit like a let-down. Which is too bad, because the concept wasn’t bad! And while answering your questions, I also realised that both Lu and Nokhai’s characters were quite well developed, yet still it wasn’t what I had hoped for.
As I already mentioned above, I loved the concepted of the gifted Kith with it’s different tribes and how she spun this part of the story. I thought it was really interesting and original! (Which is probably why I liked reading about Nokhai most haha.)
My least favourite thing… Honestly, I really disliked how Min evolved in the story. I get that she and Lu were totally different people, and that that was the reason for their strained relationship, but I felt like Min didn’t try a lot. She acted self-absorbed, constantly felt sorry for herself and everything she had to endure, and remained ignorant of everything else. And look at the consequences of her actions… I think I had a hard time accepting that in the end, she dropped her sister ruthlessly, just so she could get what she thought she wanted. She did not think about her sister, or the rest of the world. So yeah, I didn’t enjoy reading about Min, even though I was quite interested to read about her learning to use her powers. Even when her magic had awakened, she still let other people use her (and her powers).
Merel asks Iris:
What did you think about the setting?
I thought the setting was really interesting. When I first heard about this book and found out it was high-fantasy, revolved around two sisters, and Asian inspired I was instantly hooked. In fact, the setting was one of the things about The Girl King that I did really enjoy. I think the Asian setting was really cool and the magic system was really interesting.
Which storyline did you enjoy the most? Which did you like the least?
I think this was my biggest struggle in The Girl King. There are three third-person perspectives, that of Lu, her sister Min, and Nok. I found about halfway through that I didn’t particularly love any of them. I liked Nok and thought his storyline was interesting, but he felt a bit interchangable with most YA fantasy love interests. Lu was badass, yes, but she too felt really similar to many other YA fantasy heroines. And Min… she annoyed me to no end with her endless naivete and self-pity.
All in all, I definitely enjoyed Lu and Nok’s storylines the most. Min’s story line was without a doubt my least favourite.
What did you think about character development in The Girl King?
(I am not going to talk about Min here, sorry, but she frustrated me too much).
Similar to what you mentioned previously I really liked how Lu and Nok grew and learned from their mistakes. They discovered who they were as a person, what they stood for, and faced truths about themselves and the world they lived in. I might not have loved the characters, but I do see that they underwent change and defintely came out for the better!
What did you think about the writing style of the book?
I don’t know. I felt disconnected from the story from the very beginning. It might have had to do with the characters, whom I didn’t really love, or the writing style. Or it might be a combination of the two. What I do know is that the writing didn’t suck me into the story and, especially in the beginning, had to force myself to keep reading.
Usually the male character is the strong and protective one. In Lu and Nokhai’s case the roles were reversed: Lu was the protective one. She was good with a sword and saved Nokhai multiple times. What’s your opinion on this?
This was quite interesting and quite a nice contrast between the two. Nok was’t a warrior, at all. I think this had to do with the destruction and trauma in his past that left him scarred. Especially compared to Lu, he was quite unsure of all that was to come.
It’s quite an interesting contrast, really. (I hadn’t actually thought about it until you mentioned it).
I don’t tend to have a hard time getting into a new world when reading a fantasy book, as I mostly seem to fall right in. However, this time it took me longer, and I really had to make an effort. Can you relate to this?
Unfortunately, yes… It took about a 100 pages for me to get invested into the story. If it hadn’t been a Sister Review book I might have actually put it down and stopped reading. I don’t think it had to do with the fact The Girl King is a fantasy book. As I mentioned before, I think it largely had to do with my inability to connect with the characters and the writing style.
Finally, will you read the next instalment in this series, which comes out February 2020?
I have to think about this. I might pick it up to see if it grabs my attention and to find out whether the sequel is better than the first book. However, right now I’m not really interested in reading the sequel.
- Plot 60% 60%
- Setting 80% 80%
- Writing style 50% 50%
- Characters 40% 40%