In this feminist high-fantasy adventure we follow the story of Zetian, a frontier girl seeking revenge for her sisters’ death. Huaxia, a futuristic version of ancient China, is constantly at war with the Hunduns, an alien species trying to wipe out humanity. And the only way to fight this threat are the Chrysalis, giant transforming robots powered by the qi of two pilots, the female yin and the male yang. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die in battle, as long as the boys can continue fighting. When Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to kill the pilot who murdered her big sister. But Zetian emerges from the cockpit unharmed, her mental strength invaluable, and so she gets paired up with Li Shimin, whose concubine pilots never survive the battle. But Zetian is not one to cower so easily. All her life, she was treated like she was worth nothing, simply for being born female. And when her sister gets sold off to a fate of certain death, it’s Zetians breaking point. She becomes the angry, unapologetic heroine of her own story, questioning everything she was taught to believe and fighting for the freedom and lives of girls who never had a choice.
In her debut novel, Xiran Jay Zhao created a complex, fast-paced story with a classical strong female protagonist as well as two vastly different love interests but without the jealousy so often seen in YA Literature. Readers will love the original take on ancient Chinese culture and the story loosely based on the only female Emperor.
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