May is always one of my busiest months (birthdays, holidays, the first time in the year when the weather gets nice and suddenly we’re not longer cooped up indoors), so when I signed up for the Asian Readathon for Asian Heritage Month, I was worried I was getting in over my head. I was especially nervous because I’d been in quite a reading slump so far this year, but I surprised myself by not only reading six books for this readathon, but also both of my Book of the Month selections and one (of three, sadly) books from my online book club!
All of the books I selected for this readathon were already on my tbr list, so it felt good to knock that number down a bit. I also made it a goal this year to read more books by POC, so this felt like a perfect reason to do that. If I want to read these books anyway, why not do it during a time to celebrate and bring awareness to these authors and stories (of course, we shouldn’t be reading these books exclusively for one month of the year). What I’m learning is that I really enjoy stories about different cultures, especially those that include mythology and folklore from said cultures. Who knew that young adult fantasy still had my heart?
The Asian Readathon had five simple rules, as follows:
– Read a book written by an Asian author.
– Read a book featuring an Asian character who is a woman AND/OR older.
– Read a book by an Asian author that has a universe you would want to experience OR a universe that is totally different from yours.
– Read a book by an Asian author that has a cover worthy of googly eyes.
– Read a book by an Asian author that has a high rating OR was highly recommended.
I found that all of these books covered multiple rules. For example, The Ones We’re Meant to Find was written by an Asian author, had a universe that is totally different from mine, had a cover worthy of googly eyes, AND was highly recommended by a handful of my friends. In that regard, it was easy to reach this goals of the readathon, and I loved the loose interpretations here. It took a lot of the stress away from the readathon, and I had a lot of fun with it!
I went into The Aosawa Murders hoping for a gritty but methodic thriller with a touch of Japan’s culture embedded within. Maybe I should have gone into it with zero expectations, because I found myself incredibly bored and lost. Each chapter is written as a monologue by different people, so the chapter breaks felt jarring and difficult to piece the story together.
I didn’t really catch on until I had started picking the chapters apart and doing all the work myself to see how everything was related. I don’t mind putting in some of that effort when I read, but this felt as if the author deliberately withheld information simply to make it complicated.
I’ve seen plenty of four and even five star reviews, so I think this is a case of “it’s not you, it’s me.”
Gatsby was never one of my favorite stories, but I thought a retelling with a queer, Asian, adopted main character who also has magic powers would be incredible. I loved the concept here, but I wish it had been executed better.
The magic in this story is so slight that it took me a while to realize it was magic that was happening. I wish this had been more developed and explained, because it was the coolest part of the story. Jordan often mentions how passers-by stare at her or make “jokes” about her race, but since she was adopted into a rich, white family, she tended to mostly behave like a rich, white person. It wasn’t until almost the end of the book that her heritage becomes prevalent, and again, it was merely touched on without any depth.
Quite simply, I wanted more from this, and it had so much potential had it been longer.
Genre: fantasy, historical fiction, retelling
I was pleasantly surprised by this book, considering a lot of my friends felt it was dry. I absolutely loved that the story is told from the perspective of the AI and felt it was incredibly well done. It did take a while for the story to have a strong sense of direction, but I wasn’t ever bored because I was so interested in all the characters, including Klara.
I’ve heard people praise this for being one big metaphor, and whether or not it’s that deep is up to the reader, which is what I loved. There are dozens of theories about what really happened at the end, some of which I completely support. I think that’s the beauty of this story. It truly is up to the interpretation of the reader, and we all have different theories and takeaways from what we read.
Genre: science fiction
This was easily my favorite book of the readathon! The story begins with a chase seen and is filled to the brim with action until the very end. The romance here is so bittersweet, and I even found the love triangle to be tolerable as it was believable and flowed well with the rest of the story. I enjoyed seeing Xingyin’s relationships with her friends and fellow soldiers bloom. The mythology was fascinating, and the magical and fantasy elements of this story were all neatly interwoven and fully developed as well. This book is jam-packed and lengthy, but I loved every second of it and couldn’t wait to keep reading any second I put it down.
This story was exactly what I was looking for in a YA fantasy, and I cannot wait for the sequel!
Genre: fantasy, young adult