Nancy O'Toole's Reviews > Silver Phoenix

Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon
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's review
Oct 03, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: library, young-adult
Read from October 01 to 03, 2010

Ai Ling has reached an age when she is supposed to marry. When she is rejected by her betrothed her future is uncertain, but Ai Ling has no idea that the immortals have more in store for her than the life of a subservient bride. She finds herself embarking on a journey to the capitol, a journey that will put her face to face with demons she has only read about in stories, brave warriors, and a terrifying villain who wants nothing more than to make Ai Ling his bride.

Silver Phoenix is Cindy Pon's debut into fantasy fiction. Obviously inspired by Asian culture, Silver Phoenix takes familiar and beloved fantasy tropes and tells them in a new and interesting way. As someone who loves Asian Fantasy, I knew that I needed to pick this book up the moment I read about it. Ai Ling is a fantastic heroine. She's feisty and brave, but can also make rash decisions with dangerous consequences. I found her incredibly easy to route for. The secondary characters, such as brothers Chen Yong and Li Rong, are just as easy to like. Perhaps the story's weak point is in it's less complex characterization of it's villains, but as they only make a brief appearance near the end, they really don't have as much time to make an impact.

Silver Phoenix is first and foremost a young adult adventure story featuring a quest-like storyline with a climatic ending. For the most part, it progresses much like you'd expect an early Tamora Pierce book: a fast-paced tale filled with mostly innocent fun. But when you least expect it, the story can take darker turns. I have to give credit to Pon for not being afraid to venture into darker waters, as I felt it made the book less predictable and heightened the sense of danger. There were a few instances where I was gasping aloud at certain developments. I also found the ending (which did not come out quite how I expected it) to be very suspenseful.

Silver Phoenix is a fantastic story filled with great characters, and nail biting peril. This book should have wide appeal to different types of readers. Fans of Asian-inspired fantasy novels such as Kara Dalkey's Little Sister, and Alison Goodman's Eon: The Dragoneye Reborn, should gobble it right up, as should fans of anime, or anime inspired projects (such as the TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender). Fans of more traditional fantasy, such as Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley, should be able to relate to the fast paced adventure story and it's feminist undertones. One thing that saddens me about this book is the news that they have repacked the series for both the paperback version of this novel, and future novels. Instead of the beautiful and vibrant cover art as seen on the hardcover copy, the series will now feature token paranormal cover art with a racially ambiguous model. This decision misrepresents a truly original series, and may cause fantasy fans to pass up the book due it's paranormal cover art.

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Reading Progress

10/01/2010 page 104
31.0% "This book reads pretty fast! So far I'm enjoying the heroine and Asian-inspired setting."
10/02/2010 page 246
73.0% "Still enjoying the book. It got surprisingly dark for a little bit there!"

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