Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Girl King #1

The Girl King

Rate this book
In an empire of flames, they must rise from the ashes.

Sisters Lu and Min have always known their places as the princesses of the Empire of the First Flame: assertive Lu, will be named her father's heir and become the dynasty's first female ruler, while timid Min will lead a quiet life in Lu's shadow. Until their father names a new heir—their male cousin, Set.

Determined to reclaim her birthright, Lu goes in search of allies, leaving Min to face the volatile court alone. Lu soon crosses paths with Nokhai, the lone, unlikely survivor of a clan of nomadic wolf shapeshifters. Nok never learned to shift—or to trust for the empire that killed his family—but working with Lu might be the only way to unlock his true power.

As Lu and Nok form a tenuous alliance, Min's own power awakens, a forbidden magic that could secure Set's reign . . . or allow her to claim the throne herself. But there can only be one emperor, and the sisters' greatest enemy could very well be the other.

This sweeping fantasy set against a world of ancient magic and political intrigue weaves an unforgettable story of ambition, betrayal, and sacrifice.

481 pages, Hardcover

First published January 8, 2019

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Mimi Yu

2 books170 followers
Mimi Yu was born and raised in rural upstate New York. Her hometown is the site of both the Women’s Rights Convention (1848) and the largest active landfill in New York State (ongoing).

She currently resides in the SF Bay Area of California, and soon she will live near Chicago. She has never been a midwesterner before, but she does enjoy a good casserole.

Besides books, Mimi likes quilting, gardening, drawing, picking up heavy weights, and pop music. She has four planets in Aquarius. She knows a little bit about a lot of animals, and far too much about cats.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
391 (18%)
4 stars
738 (35%)
3 stars
663 (32%)
2 stars
213 (10%)
1 star
65 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 519 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,946 reviews292k followers
January 12, 2019
"I am going to win back my throne."

See, here's the thing. I've read this book before. Many times. Hundreds of times, it feels like. The Girl King sounded good, but it does absolutely nothing that hasn't already been done by countless YA Fantasy books.

What we have here is another young woman looking to reclaim her throne. She journeys around with standard Hot Dude™ and hopes to recruit the Yunians, a group of people with magic, to her cause. It's not a short journey, either. I was ready to forgive the book for being so long because I thought it was a standalone, but it turns out we can expect at least one sequel.

» The Characters
The book is written in third person, which probably doesn't help us warm to the characters. This was a real problem for me. I couldn't care about anyone.

The three third-person perspectives are that of Lu, badass warrior and heir to the throne, her sister Min, younger and weaker and - for the most part - used as a pawn by everyone in the book, and Nok, a slipskin who can sometimes become a wolf. Nok feels interchangeable with most YA fantasy love interests; Lu feels interchangeable with most YA fantasy badass heroines. Only Min remotely stood out, though perhaps for the wrong reasons. Her naivete and self-pity quickly grew tiring.
They never really liked me, she thought, not for the first time, but still, it stung. No one does.

» The Plot Journey
What is with these journeys? Long, dull treks in which the heroine and potential lover must spend so much time together-- oh my, what could happen?

Thankfully, we returned to the palace for Min's perspective in between Lu's journeying or else I might have died of boredom.

» The Twists/Reveals
Obviously, I'm not going to give anything away, but there is NOTHING that comes as a surprise in this book. The earlier twist can be guessed in the first couple of chapters, and come on, did anyone reading this really believe for a second that ?

I really expected something more from The Girl King. Unfortunately, it is almost indistinguishable from other YA fantasy books. Give it a few weeks and this will have blended into all the rest in my mind. If you are on the lookout for fantasy inspired by East Asia, I recommend The Poppy War, Girls of Paper and Fire or Forest of a Thousand Lanterns instead.

CW: Attempted rape; murder; addiction.

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
Profile Image for emma.
1,822 reviews45.6k followers
October 10, 2018
Dear The Girl King,

It's not you, it's me.

Gang, it's heartbreak hour. It is devastation o'clock over here in my brain. Because this book sounded good as hell and in many ways for many readers probably would be good as hell - but for me, it just didn't work.

This book is, on paper (ha ha book jokes), very Cool. It is sister-centered (usually something I love). It is Asian-inspired. It is high fantasy. It is unique.

But never, not once, did it ever really grab my attention. I just never felt interested. I was bored. Synonyms.

In a lot of ways, this was like an Asian-inspired Three Dark Crowns, except for some inexplicable reason the universe granted me the ability to be interested in Three Dark Crowns. That book is objectively not any more interesting than this one, and yet here we are.

I also found the romance in this to be really unnecessary, but that's a different point.

Bottom line: This book was just meh for me, but that is a textbook me problem.

Thanks to Bloomsbury for the ARC!! <3


this book had me at "girl king"

(i.e., it had me by the title)

(because the title is The Girl King)

(and that sounds rad af)
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,625 reviews5,068 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
November 23, 2019
DNF @ pg97

I really... really hate doing this. I want to love this book so badly. I was hooked on the idea of it when it first came out, and I hyped it up so much in my own head that I did a little happy dance when I got the ARC and everything. But honestly, I just can't connect with this at all. I'm not interested in the plot, I can't connect with the characters, and the writing isn't doing much for me. I do love the main character, Lu, because she's an angry, feisty little warrior, but the perspective shifts to the other characters are dragging miserably and making me dislike this book.

This is one of those rare times where I'm choosing to DNF a book early and avoid rating it, because if I continue far enough in to warrant a star rating, I know it won't be the one this author deserves. The Girl King will be an incredible read for many readers; sadly, I'm simply not one of them.

Thank you so much to Bloomsbury YA for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Aentee.
136 reviews439 followers
January 11, 2019
Listen. I might not have enjoyed this book, but white people saying it’s not Asian enough and that the characters might as well by named “Kate and Mark” is straight up slander. There’s so many Asian inspired elements and the author obviously worked really hard on the world building.
January 7, 2019

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

To be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about this book. THE GIRL KING is another book in a long line of "strong female" heroine-centered YA fantasy novels being marketed to young adults, and it doesn't do anything that's too different from what's already on the table, apart from being an Asian-inspired kingdom with a heroine who's a person of color. I get that people of color don't have the luxury of saying that they're fatigued by tropey fantasy novels, since they don't even have that degree of rep, but at the same point, it's frustrating to pick up a book that promises to be different and ends up just being more of the same.

That said, THE GIRL KING did a lot of interesting things that set it apart from other disappointments I read over the last year, like FLAME IN THE MIST and GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE. THE GIRL KING has two heroines, a pair of sisters. Lu is the fierce and tomboyish one who has her eye on the throne and thinks up a rather bold and daring coup to wrest it away from her douchey cousin, Set, who also happens to be her fiance. Min is the feminine and passive sister who historically has been cowardly and weak. The best part of this story, in my opinion, is how their characters change over the course of the story. Rather than being rewarded for her impulsive behaviors, as characters like Celaena are in the  THRONE OF GLASS series, Lu's foolhardiness results in negative consequences, and she gradually learns to let go of her impulsivity and confront her biases. Min, on the other hand, starts to become more assertive and angry, and that gradual transformation was really satisfying to see.

As for the world-building, I think Emily hits it on the head in her review. It's Asian-inspired, yes, but not in a way that really seems like the culture was thoroughly integrated into the storyline. Contrast that with a book like Sherwood Smith's THE BANNER OF THE DAMNED, where the customs, religions, and social mores are thoroughly enmeshed into not just the world, but also the plot. I had my issues with that book, as well, but the world-building was lovely. I wish that were the case here. I also think THE GIRL KING scrapes at the surface when it comes to racism, which I ordinarily wouldn't really mind, except that it's a pretty big part of the plot. The slipskin/Kith part of the story, for example, deals with genocide, and yet I don't think this was explored or treated with the gravitas it deserved. It took me a while, for example, to realize that "slipskin" in the book was actually a slur, and even when the characters are called out for using that word there aren't really dialogues and back stories in place to explain why "slipskin" is bad, or the resentment and inequality that give it power.

Yu also includes another nation of people - I forget the name of their country, but they're white - derisively referred to as "pink people" at times. This is also derogatory, and characters are called out for using the word - but, again, the world and the history aren't developed to the point where it's clear why "pink people" is offensive (is pink an offensive color in this culture? does it represent something bad?) or what the relationship is between this other nation that would create that sort of tension.

One thing I did really like about this story was that it's grittier than most YA has been allowed to be. We live in a PC culture, and while I think it's incredibly important to refer to people on their own terms with the words that they choose and be mindful of people's sensitivities and triggers and basically just be a decent human with respect for your other fellow humans, I do think that this fear of offense is watering down YA, to the point where people feel uncomfortable tackling difficult issues or ugly topics for fear of causing offense. THE GIRL KING has violence, it has racism, it has genocide, and it has rape - and yes, looking at the reviews, people were offended by these things, for various reasons, which is their right. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't talk about it, and I felt that Yu made a solid effort to incorporate these concepts into her book in a meaningful way without being OTT.

THE GIRL KING isn't a bad book. It isn't a great book, but I also didn't feel resentful of the time I spent reading it. Part of the problem is the tedious beginning, the reliance on tired fantasy tropes, and the lack of solid world-building to make this kingdom feel like a real place with high stakes consequences. That said, it also did a lot of interesting and even daring things, and ultimately, that willingness to try and be different and take risks was what pushed me over the edge to liking this book.

Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!

3 to 3.5 stars
Profile Image for julianna ➹.
207 reviews264 followers
April 2, 2019
*looks at all of the lower ratings* well, this is awkward

I really just loved this book. I had some mixed feelings while reading it, but guys, the payoff was amazing at the end. It was like And I Darken x Girls of Paper and Fire x The Winner's Curse?? I’m so glad this was my first read of 2019 <3

Also, I was taking notes while reading the book, which I normally never do, and boy is there a long list of trigger and content warnings.

trigger and content warnings for xenophobia, genocide, labor camps, parental emotional abuse, attempted rape, puking, menstruation, cannibalism, physical abuse, fatphobia, sexism, poisoning, strangulation, dismemberment, graphic killing, soiling, infertility, colonization, addiction, and torture. I think that’s about most of them but if I missed any, let me know!

There’s a scene in this book included attempted rape where a man attempts to rape Nokhai (Nok), one of the main characters, and it’s really problematic that the only queer character portrayed in this book is a sexual attacker? If anyone has a copy of the final book, please let me know if the scene is still in there. I know the author didn’t intentionally try to demonize queer people, but it’s still not okay and very hurtful.

So, as you can see, this is a very heavy and dark book. When I first read it, I believed that it was going to be a “classic YA adventure fantasy,” but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it had so much more. The cover’s gray for a reason, y’all. It’s set in a world where there’s mass genocide and colonization (which I’ll elaborate more on later), so a lot of people might feel uncomfortable with this book and that’s completely okay. But I do think that this is a book that a lot of people need to read.

Her mother’s voice echoed in her mind: You can bend to that reality, or you can be broken by it. Let them try to break her, then.

lu, the feisty warrior who should’ve been named heir
Lu is an impulsive, headstrong, skilled fighter who’s had an aptitude for swordfighting her entire life. She’s been trained by a master, and has always been her father, the Emperor’s, favorite. She’s derisively called “The Girl King” by members of the court, and she fully expected to be named as the heir to the Empire. However, the Emperor names Lu’s cousin, Set, as heir instead, which comes as a blow to Lu’s pride and expectations. (which is rude)

Lu’s family is the royalty of the Empire, which means that they have colonized several different lands and committed genocide. And Lu’s growth throughout the story into someone who recognizes the traumatic history of her country and family was truly amazing to see.

nok, the gifted kith who’s been hiding a secret
...The secret is that he is one of the Gifted Kith, specifically the Ashina family. The Gifted Kith are shapeshifters, who can change into different animals. Each family has a different animal they can turn into, and Nok’s family’s animal was a wolf; Nok’s father was a Kith Father, who are the leaders of different families of Gifted Kith. Nok would have been trained to become a leader too, but the Hu royalty murdered most of the Gifted Kith or sent them to labor camps. (Nok is referred to as a slipskin, but that’s actually a derogatory term given to them by the Hu.)

Nok has faced a brutal, dark past and so many people from his life have left and abandoned him and Lu is the first one to stay with him. (Their romance is amazing! It’s slow-burn and like… not super prevalent, but there)

min, the ignored second daughter of the Hu
Min is the mother’s favorite, rather than the father’s, and she’s a young, indecisive and timid girl who’s always envied and idolized Lu. In her first chapter, she gets her first period and is officially declared as a “woman.” Further on, she learns that she has a power and that I really would love her character a lot more if she wasn’t, like, evil and fighting for the colonizing side. I’ve been getting more into antiheroines but it’s not the same when Lu is fighting to help commit genocide… Granted, she doesn’t fully understand the gravity, and is basically manipulated into doing work for Set, but… I can’t really love her.

After Lu runs off and tries to find an army, Min becomes betrothed to Set in place of Lu, and her subdued desperation and willfulness comes out as it is revealed that there’s a dark spirit within her. She’s desperate to provide children for Set and be a good wife and to be recognized as an equal to her sister, and it’s just so so sad to see her spiraling down in madness and witchery.

”You are afraid.”
Her mother leaned in close, her gray eyes regarding [redacted] with some strange mixture of tenderness and brutality. “Then be afraid,” she whispered.

the actual pace of the story
Okay, so… this book is slow and it takes quite a while to actually get to some of the points that are mentioned in the synopsis, but… it’s just kind of like an investment that you put your time into and you get this immense satisfaction and payoff. We get these amazing different lands and settings and yes, this is a traveling book, but I actually love traveling books? So leave me aloneee.

This is very like And I Darken in that sense- it’s a great story, but it just takes time to build it up and it results in something amazing. However, I actually… didn’t enjoy And I Darken as much or put as much effort into staying with the story tbh, but that may be because The Girl King is an East-Asian inspired fantasy and I’m ownvoices for it! So, of course!

I was very engaged in the story and paying attention, but mostly, it was very slow-paced and I was surprised that Nok and Lu’s first encounter was around 150 pages in. (Like, WHAT) This book seriously intimidated me at first, and I’m lowkey proud that I finished it.

other things
There is xenophobia present in this story, but it’s treated in a way that we definitely know that it’s wrong. When Lu refers to Nok as a derogatory term, he corrects her and she starts using the correct terms, so I was kind of confused as to why some felt specifically uncomfortable with the xenophobic aspects in this story. All xenophobia comes from the antagonist and is clearly marked as wrong; Nok and Lu specifically have heavy conversations about genocide. I think that it’s also nice to remember that the author is from a country that was heavily colonized.

I said that this was very similar to the Winner’s Curse for me-- specifically because of how it discussed colonization; however, I… believe that the Winner’s Curse was less heavy on that? But I’m a little fuzzy on the details, because I read the Winner’s Curse quite a while ago.
Profile Image for Jeann (Happy Indulgence) .
1,003 reviews3,298 followers
January 12, 2019
What a disappointment! I was expecting so much more out of this Asian fantasy.

While I liked the Asian setting and the magic system, I found the characters one-dimensional. The sisterly rivalry felt quite forced and I wasn't a fan of Min's character, who I found weak, whiny, naive and even her sister refers to her as "simple". Compared to Lu, who is an ambitious female warrior who wants to take over the throne, it wasn't particularly believable that she would be a contender.

Nokhai's shifter story was interesting to begin with, but quickly wanes later in the book. As a result, I found the book to be slow in pace without a strong plot to keep me reading.

Unfortunately, this one wasn't for me, but I do adore my Asian fantasy reads, especially from #ownvoices authors and I'm glad there are more of our stories being told.

I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Check out Happy Indulgence Books for more reviews!
Profile Image for Vicky Again.
587 reviews820 followers
April 18, 2020
short version: would not recommend.

There's no good way to say this.

I've been really really excited for The Girl King (I'm #OwnVoices for it too, so you know I was super pumped!).

But, this ended up being uncomfortable for me? Part of this book felt pretty problematic, and I'm just really sad and disappointed that this did not work out for me.

I dislike writing negative reviews. I try to be picky about the books I choose so I don't have to write negative reviews. And I avoid writing them when I can do it, and I would have done that for this book if not for some of the issues I had. This review isn't even publisher-associated (the lovely Kristen @ Barnie Bookworm sent me this book) and normally for non-publisher associated ARCs, I just won't review it at all if it was going to be negative.

But this is something I think people deserve to know, and I feel the need to let people know about this book.

Know that I am not the person who decides what is wrong and what is right. Maybe these things aren't actually an issue. Maybe they are. But they ended up making me, an #OwnVoices reviewer, feel uncomfortable, and that I believe has a tiny bit of weight.

First off . . .
The only vaguely queer character in this book is a rapist.

There are no queer main characters. There are no queer side characters. There is only one character who is in one scene who is a guard (named Wailun) who is vaguely queer. Wailun tries to rape Nok (the male protagonist) and this made me really uncomfortable.

Not because of a rape scene and obviously not because of queer characters, but because the only character with even a slight hint of queerness ends up being a rapist? Like what?

And I could have missed something. Maybe there are other queer characters. And there probably wasn't bad intent behind this. But this is a really harmful trope and stereotype that is being used, instead of being deconstructed..

I find this to be an issue? That the only portrayal of queerness is when you're villainizing a character? And one that invokes a very real history of trauma queer folks have experienced?

So yeah. This is up to you, but I've laid out the facts (if you have a copy, it's on page 226-227) and it's up to you to judge if it influences if you read. (Also using rape to further the plot was . . . nice.)

The way they talk about some ethnicities is kind of uncomfortable.

One of the more obvious is how they (Lu and Min, the female protagonists) call the Ellandaise "pink."

I assume this is meant to indicate that the Ellandaise (who are like visitors from another country/kingdom) are white people, yet I feel like it's kind of reductive for the (Asian) characters to use this. It's not deconstructed, and it feels like it was never adequately discussed.

Yes, Lu corrects Min to not say that and it's not a huge problem, but I still think that the overall culture of the book was very anti-otherness.

There's a slur for the Gifted Kith ethnicity: slipskin. And this was also used, and even though Lu stops using it, it never felt like she understood the offensiveness of her words.

There's a lot of different ethnicities, and nowhere in the book did I really feel like they were disabling part of that xenophobia and racism. Sure, they stopped using the offensive words. But just because you don't use hurtful words, doesn't mean you aren't racist.

And so I was just uncomfortable sometimes with Lu and Min and a lot of royalty, and how Lu wants her throne back and is willing to help them now, but in my opinion, she never achieves the level of empathy and respect she needs to treat them as equals.

You can use slurs in a book when they have a purpose. I just didn't think they really added anything to the book.

I felt like some of the violence was almost unnecessary.

This is kind of unrelated to the problematicness, but I just felt like some of the scenes (the rape scene among others) were overly violent for no real purpose.

Yes, violence can be used to make a book better and more impactful. But personally, for me? It didn't contribute to the story. It didn't make the book stronger--it only highlighted Lu's flaws and made me like her less.

I feel like the violence in here was elaborated in a way that was a little unnecessary. I'm not squeamish, nor am I anti violence in books. But this mixed in with my general uncomfortableness with different aspects of the book just made it too much for me.

There were some good aspects, but I don't think it was worth it.

I'd rather have not had that reading experience.

I was uncomfortable, and not in the good way that made you think. I think this story had a lot of potential and frankly, it was a pretty good concept and plot. But the way it was executed did not do it for me, and I unfortunately wouldn't recommend.

It might not have been The Continent level of bad, but it was still pretty uncomfortable for me.

If you're looking for a diverse read feat. sisterhood themes, you might want to look elsewhere.

Thank you to Kristen @ Barnie Bookworm for sending me her ARC! All thoughts are my own honest opinion.

Blog | Instagram | Twitter
Profile Image for Melanie (TBR and Beyond).
504 reviews360 followers
January 25, 2019
All Hail The Girl King

Betrayal! SO. MUCH. BETRAYAL. These royals are some shady ass people and I lived for it! I need the second book and the first one is not even officially released yet. #readerproblems

When I read this synopsis. saw the STUNNING cover and then realized it was an ownvoice Asian-inspried fantasy – I knew I needed to feature this book and ask Mimi Yu to come visit us in 2019 on TBR and Beyond. Thankfully, she generously accepted and I’m so glad. I think the members are going to adore this one when we read it in February. The Girl King is about two young princesses. The first, Lu, is very strong, brave, opinionated and determined to do things her way. While the second sister, Min, is timid, polite and does everything that is expected of her. When Lu finds out that she is not going to become the next empress and must marry her arrogant cousin, she sets out to change her fate and everything goes to hell in a handbasket after that.

I also can’t forget to mention my favorite character in this whole story – Nok. I don’t want to say a ton about him or how he fits into the story. I’ll let that unfold for you all as you read. Amazing character and completely surprising plot point involves him. All of the characters are well developed, including some amazing side-characters. I feel like I’ll be obsessed with The Oracle, Vera for a long time! Badass is putting it lightly.

I am not sure if this will be a polarizing read in the YA community or not. The female characters in particular are very fierce but not always likable. I personally loved very flawed characters and I love how many dimensions these young women have in the book. Sometimes I adore them and am cheering them on and sometimes I’m banging my head against a wall from a decision that is being made. I love that though!

The Girl King has complex world building and a really cool magic system. I love that the author takes her time to build it so I fully understood what was going on and became completely immersed. One thing I adored about this book is that there is an EPIC battle scene. They don’t hold back at all and it gave me all the feels and goosebumps. I can’t stop thinking about it. Too often the battle scenes feel rushed, not this one! This one is perfect!

I highly recommend checking this book out when it is released on January 8, 2019. I think this is going to be a huge hit and rightfully so. Give me more of that diverse fantasy because I’m living for the different stories that we are getting from it!

Thank you Bloomsbury. ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Lili  Marcus.
715 reviews405 followers
January 1, 2019
Lu and Min knew their position in the Empire. Lu is to be their dynasty’s first female ruler and Min her shadow. Everything changed after their father declared their cousin Set as the new Emperor instead of Lu. And the events that followed made the sisters rivals in a war to claim the title of Emperor.

All Hail the Girl King.

Who else’s heart skipped a beat after reading that title? THE GIRL KING. The title alone made me go to Edelweiss and Netgalley to request the ARC. H*ck I even thought of sending an e-mail to publishers which I’ve never done before. I was that hyped. It seemed interesting. Sisters rivalry and the words; betrayal, ambition and sacrifice, are mentioned in the blurb. It’s also Asian-inspired. What’s there not to like, right?

Sadly, this book slightly disappointed me. The premise is fine. I really liked the whole concept of the sisters turn rivals and one’s a warrior and badass and the other suddenly learns she has powers. (Not a spoiler because this is revealed in the synopsis on Goodreads.) I don’t know how others see this contrast but for me, it’s a good one. See, the badass one really knows how to fight and the weaker one has some kind of a power/magic. It balances the stakes between the two and I liked that. Also there’s a shifter thrown in the story, an oracle, missing royals, and a cousin. (As you know, cousins are always antagonistic. LOL)

But somehow, the execution and the pace of this book made the book a chore to read at times. I even thought of DNF’ing it. The pace is not really slow as a snail but slower than moderate. Though it started with such ominous prologue, the connections that I’d loved to guess till the end are rather revealed early making the twists and turns through the rest of the book mediocre.

In other word, the execution was a flop making this book seemed just another YA fantasy. And if I’d be very honest, I say I’ve read this one before, except the setting changed and the names are obviously Asian. I also didn’t fully understand the MAGIC. But maybe that’s just me.

Another thing… I love romance (or a hint of it) in every book I read, whatever the genre is, so having the romance in this is completely fine with me. But seeing the whole picture, I think the romance is not really needed.

I wouldn’t mind reading book 2 though coz that sudden shift in Min’s character in the end? I’m curious. But HOPEFULLY, this series stops in duology coz it already became tedious at some points in book 1. And oh, have I mentioned anything about my fave character? No? Well, it’s because there’s none. Everyone’s fine but not more than that. I even dislike their too much inner monologues.

UPDATE #4 : My review will be up soon.

UPDATE #3: Now I know why... An OK read. Review later guys. I need to read more to catch up on my book counts...

2 of my friends already DNF'ed this book but still I'm excited to read this. :)


Got an ARC from Netgalley UK... Thank youuuuuu..

So weird though. I tried requesting this from Netgalley.com and was denied, but WISHED it from Netgalley UK and got approved just a day after I requested it...
Profile Image for Eri.
595 reviews176 followers
January 12, 2019
tw: attempted rape scene

4.5 stars


I have almost no words that can coherently describe how desperately I have longed for this kind of sweeping epic East Asian fantasy that is reminiscent of those 50+ episode historical dramas that had backstabbing family politics, bloodlust, ambition, betrayal, dangerous emotions!, and everything else. Needless to say, this book completely took me by surprise by how far it leaned into the bitterness and complicated feelings with siblings, especially royal ones. I just ????? this book hit all the right notes and while it definitely took some time to build up, once you dug into the politics and all the messy messy emotions and ambitions and cruelty, we had a winner.

this review makes absolutely no sense! but anyway pick this book up PLEASE
Profile Image for Adah Udechukwu.
614 reviews81 followers
January 13, 2019
The Girl King was awesome, spectacular and action filled. I loved it. I loved every moment. The plot of the novel made sense. I am definitely going to read book 2.
Profile Image for Cora Tea Party Princess.
1,323 reviews802 followers
January 16, 2019
5 Words: Family, magic, power, manipulation, control.

Content Warning: Attempted rape, manipulation, violence.

See my Book Beginnings thoughts.
Blog Tour: Book Review: The Girl King by Mimi Yu.

I loved The Girl King right from the start, it was a fast paced roller-coaster of a read, and I couldn't put it down.

I think my favourite character was definitely Min. She's very much a product of her upbringing in how she bears herself, but she still has a spark of something despite it. She's a pawn used by other characters, but it was like I could see a glimmer of something deeper there whenever she was on page. And I felt that I could often really relate to how she felt too. I feel like a lot of the other characters in the book really underestimated her, and I'd like to see how that develops in the next book.

I love the way the story was filled with twists and turns. I did absolutely see the first "twist" coming, but I was eager for it to get the story going. I was ready for it. My little cliché-loving heart jumped for joy when it happened. The Girl King was full of political intrigue, a huge journey of discovery, the pettiness and small dangers of court life, and the consequences of the actions you undertake.

I really enjoyed the magic of the world in the Girl King. There was something about the book as a whole that felt epic. I loved the politics of the story, the way toxic relationships were explored.
Profile Image for Ellie.
573 reviews2,084 followers
November 27, 2018
THAT ENDING I AM SCREAMING I can’t wait for book 2 ajdskkdjdjdj



I literally only heard of this book 5 minutes ago but that was more than enough time for me to decide that I NEED THIS SO MUCH
Profile Image for Eleanor (bookishcourtier).
544 reviews110 followers
May 16, 2019
This was such a solid book, and I cannot understand the low ratings and mixed reviews for this one! I thought that for a debut it was really really good, and I definitely found myself wondering if this author is actually a debut author after all. There are so many good things about it (and yes maybe there were a few things I didn't love as much), and all in all I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy, kickass female characters and awesome magic systems.

The Girl King is an Asian inspired YA fantasy following sisters Lu and Min, who are the princesses of the empire. The two of them are very different: Lu is basically just this angry bean that wants to punch something, and does quite a lot of stuff without thinking, and sometimes she can be quite naive, not because she's unkind, simply because she doesn't realise the consequences for other people, while Min is much quieter, overshadowed by her sister who is bold and can get away with everything, while she is fearful and afraid of getting into trouble. I really liked both of these characters; they felt really dynamic and real, with a good balance of flaws and qualities. I'm not quite in love with them yet, but I think that could definitely happen later in the series. They both also had really good arcs - Lu learns to open her mind and realises what life is really like for the people in the empire, and realises the naiveté of her good intentions. Min has a dark descent into a sort of twisted cruelty in which she thinks she is doing the right thing. Her arc was really convincing - there was no drastic change, and the author charted it perfectly, so it feels very natural for her character. I love dark characters like this, and even though Min sounds weak and fearful, her character is actually very compelling and I think she might be my favourite. We also followed Nokhai, a Gifted Kith from the Ashina clan whose family was killed by the empire. He is such a sweet potato and I loved the fact that he wasn't a 'brooding bad boy' like I was worried he was going to be. All of the characters turned out differently from what I expected, actually.

The world and magic system were really interesting and worked well with the story, but some parts maybe needed a bit more development. We don't really get a sense of what the empire is like, geographically and sort of the hierarchy system, but I do get the sense that this will be explored later in the series. I would have loved to see more of the religion and different types of magic, but again, the sequels may bring this to light. And on a positive note, I did feel like the history was interesting, and the world and plot worked well together - no info dumping here!

The writing and plot was really well done. I was really impressed by the writing style - its nothing flowery or anything, but the turns of phrases are really beautiful and it felt very sophisticated. It makes me want to read more from the author. Also, the way we were given information was flawless - as I said above, there were no info dumps, but you also weren't thrown into the story with no hope of knowing what was going on. The only criticism that I would suggest is that the plot did flag a little in the middle, what with some of the travelling and not much happing. The big battle also didn't feel very climactic, although maybe that was just me.

In all, I really loved this book. I will definitely be continuing with the series and anything else this author decides to write. The concept was also fabulous and I loved the idea of two sister's fighting for the throne. Also, there are feminist themes, but the female strength is subtle and I really liked that too. This was so masterfully brought together, and the threads all come together in the story as if this author has many published books - nothing is blatant, clumsy, or too 'in your face'. The main thing that kept me rating it from five stars is some detachment from the story and the characters that meant that big plot points didn't have enough meaning for me.
Profile Image for Samantha Shannon.
Author 27 books18.7k followers
October 25, 2018
The Girl King is incredible. I expect it will be one of the most talked-about debuts of 2019, and rightfully so. It's beautifully wrought, with rich and atmospheric descriptions and complex worldbuilding. I'm a huge fan of the way the female characters were given the space to be anything, whether that was angry, powerful, ambitious, cold, protective, family-oriented, clever, hot-tempered, devious – anything. Nokhai was great, but Min and Lu are the real stars of the story. Both were fascinating protagonists and I was equally invested in their stories.

There's room for so much more of this world and story, and I really hope we get it. Either way, I can't wait to see what Mimi Yu does next.
Profile Image for Aila.
911 reviews32 followers
July 6, 2018
4.5 stars

An absolutely enthralling, East Asian-inspired fantasy debut! Readers, watch out for this one. All three POV's deliver on unique characterizations that will set a tense storyline that will grip you from start to finish.

“Beauty as a weapon - one that required honing and care, like a sword. But also like a sword it could cut both ways.”

The Girl King promises heartstopping action in the midst of destinies woven across the characters’ timelines. Whether readers are attracted to Lu’s tough demeanor, Min’s soulful naivety, or Nok’s caring attitude, all the characters bring a wealth of personality and voice to the page. I really enjoyed reading their exceptionally flawed point of views, and can’t wait to the continuation of this story. Yu masterfully writes a beautiful culture and background amongst unique characters that are ready to change the world they live in. The only question is - is the world ready for them?

Trigger/Content Warnings: menstruation, emotional and physical abuse, intense violence, addiction, trauma

Thank you Bloomsbury for the review copy!
Profile Image for annelitterarum.
207 reviews1,363 followers
July 21, 2021
Bonne lecture au départ, concept accrocheur, mais ça se laisse traîner en longueur dans le dernier tiers qui est d’ailleurs la partie la plus classique dans le genre du YA fantaisie. Lecture agréable pour son atmosphère, mais qui ne sortira pas au bilan de fin d’année.
Profile Image for Ardent Reader.
221 reviews212 followers
January 28, 2019
3.5 stars

The book was not much interesting as I have expected. Nothing happened specifically to grab my attention.
Honestly, the title was the only thing that attracted me.

Upon the comparison of the main two characters,
Lu's character was much more ambitious than her sister who wants to win her throne back.
On the other hand, Min's character was naive and weak.

But I would very much like to give a try on the next book as I'm curious as to what will happen next.
Profile Image for Darcey.
913 reviews192 followers
June 28, 2019
i had high expectations for this and.... it was ok.

things i liked:
~ the character of Lu was well done and i really liked her, as well as the character of Nok. i was also REALLY looking forward to their romance (i feel like some major romance right now, recommendations?) however i was kinda disappointed - more on that later.
~ i found the storyline and idea really good and quite fascinating, and i was capivated throughout most of the book
~ the world it was set in was really cool! i liked it

things i didn't like:
~ the last 30% or so. i just felt like the storyline declined, as well as the romance and other things
~ Min. i hated her character for most of the book; her weakness, her boring-ness, her POV. however, in the last 30% or so (the only good thing about the end) she became much cooler and i really began to like her character. i love myself some creepy, powerful queen (like Three Dark Crowns hehe)
~ the romance was going well, progressing slowly but surely, but then i felt that the author just really sped it up? i don't know, suddenly they were kissing but not actually talking about it and then the stuff happened with whats-his-name in the in-between. i wasn't a fan.

all in all, this was a good book. not my fave, not a reread kinda book for me, i probably won't read the sequel, but it was good. thanks for the recs anyway!
Profile Image for laurel [the suspected bibliophile].
1,367 reviews376 followers
January 9, 2019
3.5 stars

It was hard for me to rate this one.

So prepare yourself for a big, rambly review that will make no sense whatsoever as I try to unscramble my thoughts.

On the one hand, I enjoyed the premise and liked the varying points of view. I loved the setting, the different beings, and the theme of colonialism/conquerorism that predominated the narrative. I loved the promise of epic greatness.

On the other, I never really connected with any of the characters. Are any, aside from sweet, soft Nok, supposed to be likable?

Lu's character arc felt shallow and barely there, as if she never changes from brash, arrogant princess to a more nuanced leader of an empire, who really understands the consequences of the destruction her father and grandfather had wrought upon innocent kingdoms in their quest for new lands. I felt myself emphasizing with Set of all people—who had actually commanded people and politicked and made allies instead of Lu who thought that because of her blood and weapons training she had the right to be Emperor.

Min's arc was...interesting. She begins as a timid, naive girl who has spent her entire life ignored by her sister and emotionally abused by her mother. Then she meets Set and a really one-sided infatuation begins.

Nok was interesting at well, and I wish that his character had been more fleshed out. He was a good fit to Lu's brashness—he wasn't a warrior, was deeply scarred by the destruction of his family and the death of his sister, and he was soft. He didn't want what was happening to him and was too unsure of what was coming, so unsure and uneasy with it that I just wanted to smack him across his face and snap, "Think of saving your people!"

Some of the world-building felt off as well. There were plot points and characters that were fairly important in the beginning, and then just seemed to get dropped off the face of the planet in favor of new plot points and characters. While one was mentioned several times, it was more of a "oh yeah, wait, I need to save this guy!" minor protest instead of a big revelation. There were aspects of the world that were used as a plot device to show the awfulness and uncaring of Set that could have been delved into further and won't, and there were important parts of the backstory that were brought up that could have had a lot more meaning if they had been explore a bit more.

Overall, my main complaint was that the book felt both too rushed and too slow all at once! The pacing felt off, and it resulted in a lack of connection with the characters, and a lack of me really caring about their fate despite what should have been a really riveting plot.

Okay, enough of me complaining and whining.

I really, really did love the setting, and I love the Asian representation. There have been a billion "princess must retake her throne" books, but having it represented in a diverse Asian setting, and written by an Asian author, is so wonderful. I really felt like plot and concept was fantastic, but for me the execution could have been a little stronger if the romance element was nixed and some character arcs strengthened up a bit.

This is a big, epic fantasy and there is so much that needs to be resolved.

I'm curious what the sequel will look like, and what the future will bring for Min, Lu and Nok.

I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.
Profile Image for Romie.
1,061 reviews1,272 followers
March 17, 2019
it was meh? I mean, it had potential, but it was so basic and didn't deliver. there was a romantic relationship I saw coming from miles away but it was so not needed, and the addition of a kinda love triangle? huh. in the end I'm just disappointed because it could've been so good. I don't think I'll continue with the rest of the series unfortunately (3.25)
Profile Image for Kathy - Books & Munches.
447 reviews156 followers
December 8, 2018
Political intrigue, a character destined to become the first female ruler and then there are shapeshifters? Nobody should even expect me not to read this, want to read this, want to cuddle this and devour it and.. and.. well.. everything.

The writing is superb and drew me in without letting me go. There are different kind of page-turners and this is definitely the kind that originates from fluent writing! Both descriptive but not too descriptive; the perfect balance for me personally.

There were some thought so ugly and so true that once released they could not be unthought. Like a drop of blood spilled on white silk.

I loved the world Mimi Yu created as well. The history, the gods, the magical elements and the political intrigue all got to me. Although there are moments where a lot of it is explained at once, it's also spread out some bit and a "learn as you go"-experience together with the characters.

Which, of course, brings me to the characters! The Girl King consists of three POV's - Minyi, Lu and Nokhai. Minyi and Lu are sisters but couldn't be more different. Min is submissive and quiet, adapting to the people around her and their demands while Lu is the absolute bad-ass of the two. She's called the Girl King due to her ambition to become the next ruler. They are so different and.. well.. they don't really have the sisterly relationship I expected them to have but it does make sense the way it is.
As for Nokhai - easily one of my favorite characters. [The other one I can't even talk about since that would spoil things, ugh!] He's had a rough past and struggles with himself and said past throughout the story. It's amazing to see how he slowly changes.

She suppressed the urge to glance back into his mirror; she already knew what she'd see there. A girl who could be anyone. A Girl who could be nothing at all.

Like I mentioned in the triggers, there are definitely some things to watch out for in this novel. They actually gave me the creeps at times. Sexual assault, intimidation and harassment are present a couple of times and, honestly, it hurts to see it but it's also done in a way you know adds to the story. Sometimes that isn't the case, but I'm glad it was this time. There's also a short description of an animal death during a battle that might get to certain people - just saying.

If there's one thing that took away from my reading pleasure just a little bit, it's how one character in particular kept making these ridiculously stupid mistakes. I can understand someone being naive, but at times it was over the top and.. had unnecessary consequences that could've been avoided. I actually slammed the book against my head once - softly, don't worry - because it was just. so. stupid. That character definitely needs to learn a bit more about self-control!

You have all you need within you. I believe that. I believe in you.

I can safely say I do need the sequel of The Girl King in my life ASAP. I loved it and cannot wait to see how our characters will change, grow and what will happen next!

4,5 / 5!
Profile Image for Alice.
295 reviews114 followers
February 21, 2019
3.5 stars

Note: This review contains TWs for sexual assault, genocide

Regarding the common points I've seen about this book:
1. Is it Asian?

Yes. - me, an Asian.
It's hard to miss (turnip cake, anyone?), but some people will definitely miss it if they don't know what to look for.

2. Regarding the slurs

It's in-universe racism and about in-universe peoples. They are fictional racial slurs. In some cases, usage of these slurs is corrected by the characters in-text, but other characters will still use them because guess what, some characters are racist against other fictional peoples in their world.

3. Regarding the "bury your gays" trope + sexual assault scene:

So basically a soldier tries to rape Nokhai while another soldier in his squad is seeking treatment for a wound from Nokhai's master, Omair. In the passage describing it, it's said the soldiers abused their power this way with women, children and also men. Obviously, no one is fucking defending this character's actions regardless if the perpetrator of sexual assault and the victim are both men (see Terry Crews' accounts of his sexual assault). The act of assaulting Nohkai, who happens to be male, does not necessarily indicate the soldier's sexuality. It just means he was going to commit rape (if Lu hadn't stopped him).

I know the initial mention of this can be upsetting to some readers, but it's important to know the context of the aforementioned sexual assault in the story. In my opinion, this was more about the soldiers' abuse of power on the people in Lu's kingdom than killing a gay character for shock value. We don't know this character's sexuality and fyi men who assault other men are not necessarily queer. It's not as if this type of abuse in power hasn't happened historically and in contemporary times.

So, ultimately, it's up to you to decide how you feel about this because everyone (meaning those in the queer community) has a different threshold for what is acceptable and what isn't for tropes like "bury your gays" in particular. To one person this might be unacceptable but to another, they might note that this book shows that there are male sexual assault victims, who are often erased.


Now that those are out of the way...

What I liked:
- Lu, Min, and Set are all introduced with sympathetic backstories.
- Set as a villain. It was very easy to love to hate this guy, even though I could sympathize with his need to beat Lu at everything, which eventually became an obsession, and his drug addiction.
- The sibling dynamic between Lu and Min
- Lu as a character in general. What a headstrong badass. She's straightforward to a fault, but she still sees that she needs to learn from others and friggin' think about what her family is responsible for.
- Min's development. I was living for the meek girl to off-the-rails transition! And ugh the complex she has in relation to Lu. Too close to home. It was probably my favorite thing about this book after Lu being headstrong™ as her MO.
- Magical Furries, y'all.
- Nok's flashbacks to the labor camp Hurt me with a capital H. I thought his chapters were fine, but I was more interested in Lu and Min's. He *does* have a lot of trauma to adresss and the plot is a catalyst for him to start that process.

Needs improvement:
- There didn't seem like there was a grand scheme to things. I certainly couldn't come up with a consistent main theme. The Girl King has a lot of things to offer that are done decently well, but many of the elements didn't feel cohesive enough with one another to help drive forward a main idea or set of ideas. For me personally, I would have loved if there were a heavier focus on Min and Lu's dynamic, but they were apart for the majority of the page count.
- The action scenes and physical descriptions of things were hard to get through. The action doesn't flow well at certain points and the physical descriptions in certain cases didn't have a point than to make you wait for further plot developments.
- The romance-ish thing Lu and Nok have.
- Even though Nok's chapters are fine, I just felt like everytime I was ready to read more about Min or Lu, I was interrupted with some Nok chapter.

Overall, The Girl King is a decent read. Its strong suits lie in the establishment of Lu and Min's relationship with each other and their family. The worldbuilding behind the Gifted Kith's genocide and loss of their Pacts was interesting in itself, but in comparison to the Lu/Min plots the storytelling was lacking in this department because it felt like its own separate story within Lu and Min's book. The plot is a straightforward "Heir reclaims their Kingdom" premise, but all of us who love this stuff know the fun is seeing all the different variations you can write with the same, old premise. If there were a more cohesive feel to the storytelling in The Girl King, I would have bumped it up to a 4 star.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kate.
397 reviews242 followers
October 9, 2020
I’ll be honest. I’m not into “journey” books. You know the type – our intrepid heroes cross forests and oceans and deserts in order to fulfill their destiny. I personally find them boring and an excuse to force character development. But I decided to give this one a try because I’m a sucker for stories where the hero has to fight their way to a throne. Contests between the existing heirs apparent? Fights to the death? Battles between embittered siblings? Gimme!

Unfortunately, I was, in the end, disappointed.

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: I am not completely writing off this series. I’m intrigued enough to buy the next book, and certainly I don’t feel that this book warranted a 1-star rating. While I wouldn’t say that this was a great read (which I’m a bit sad about, considering how much I was looking forward to this), I also did still enjoy the plot.

But ultimately, there is a ton to unpack about The Girl King that just made me uncomfortable. So get comfy, comrades. This is going to be quite a lengthy rant.

First of all, I want to mention something that Vicky @ Vicky Who Reads pointed out. As a queer POC, it doesn’t bother me so much if a book contains POC characters but not queer characters (your mileage may vary, of course). But if a book that contains POC characters does have queer characters, I expect the queerness to be as excellently represented as the POC-ness. But, as Vicky said, that’s not the case here. There’s only one queer character (vaguely queer, to be honest) and he’s also commits attempted rape, so that was super iffy for me. For a more in-depth analysis, you can read Vicky’s review here.

I also wasn’t too enthusiastic about the handling of the usage of slurs. In-universe, there is a race of people called the Gifted for whom the term ‘slipskin’ is a slur. One of the main characters, Nokhai, is a Gifted, and explains to the other character, Lu, who as an Imperial princess possesses privilege, that the term ‘slipskin’ is not appropriate. And while Lu never uses the slur again, her reaction when Nokhai points it out to her tells me that she didn’t really internalize why the word should not be used.

But what really immensely bothered me about the book was how sympathetically the themes of imperialism and colonialism were portrayed. I get that this book is based on ancient China, but it just really rubbed me the wrong way how the imperialism was sympathetically viewed. There’s a particular scene where Lu and Nokhai are arguing about a massacre the Imperial Army committed, and Lu insists that because Nokhai wasn’t born at the time, he can’t refute her insistence that the army only killed combatants and rebels. As a Filipino, this scene reminded me so much of Martial Law Era apologists and historical revisionists.

Lu doesn’t seem to understand what the rest of the characters do: that empires are won through bloodshed and the oppression of other people. True, she repeats to herself the quote, “Your title – your station – your very existence – is built on the subjugation, on the suffering of others,” over and over again, but I feel like this is a cop-out in place of actual introspective character development. Throughout the book, Lu seems more concerned with defending herself rather than righting the wrongs of her ancestors.

I will say this though. I was super interested in the court intrigue surrounding Empress Min, Lu’s sister, and the subsequent discovery of her magical abilities. Her chapters showed great character development, and I’m honestly excited to see where the second book takes her.

Find more from me:
Blog || Instagram || Twitter || YouTube
Profile Image for Emily.
296 reviews1,528 followers
January 29, 2019
This was an interesting YA fantasy debut.

There were some things that I absolutely LOVED. Mentions of menstruation?? OH MY GOODNESS. MORE OF THAT, PLEASE. And thennn we get discussions of how menstruation interacts with the magic system???? Be still my beating heart. Honestly though, for SO MANY girls periods are a point of shame and embarrassment. I absolutely loved how Yu put periods on the page in a YA fantasy book.

I also loved that while we got one female character who could have so easily felt like a caricature of the "not like other girls" strong warrior type female character, instead we get a character that challenges that trope. Too often, authors use the crutch of writing a "strong female character" by writing a male character, and then just changing the pronouns. Particularly in fantasy settings that are generally patriarchal, that type of character most likely would have been derided rather than celebrated--think how girls are labeled "bossy" where boys are "leaders" even today.

The titular Girl King, Lu, exhibits a lot of typically masculine traits--she's a fighter, she's ambitious, etc.--but Yu looks at the ways a patriarchal society would treat a girl like Lu. Lu has to grapple with expectations foisted on her because she's a girl. She also is far from perfect--she is arrogant, brash, a bit impulsive, and those traits all have consequences.

Another POV character is Min, Lu's younger sister. I can see how some people might find Min to be weak, or whiney, or passive. But I REALLY liked the fact that she was a POV character. She's a really interesting foil to Lu. With Lu we get a character who pushes against gender expectations, but with Min we have someone who is largely forced to work within them. Her's is a story of reclaimed agency, though it eventually takes a dark turn.

I liked that Yu explicitly described people's skin tones. This is an East Asian-inspired setting, and I appreciated the fact that we don't JUST get pale-skinned aristocrats, but darker-skinned Asian representation explicitly on the page.

There's a romance in here, but it's pretty underdeveloped (both the relationship and the love interest himself). That whole storyline detracted from the overall reading experience. I also think this is just too long. This needed a heavier editing hand, as parts dragged and some POV transitions felt incredibly jarring.
Profile Image for Megan ❀.
434 reviews207 followers
October 12, 2019

ARC provided by Bloomsbury via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts and review.

It was okay. The Girl King doesn't have any glaringly bad issues, but neither does it do anything particularly remarkable. I know this story. I've read it a hundred times before. This is a book about a princess trying to reclaim her kingdom, and the only difference is that it's not in a European-inspired setting.

The highlight of this book for me was Min. Min isn't a character I see often in YA, and so I was especially drawn to her. She's frustrating. She allows herself to constantly be pushed around and used by others, and never stands up for herself. But because of her inaction and lack of will, it built my sense of suspense for when she would finally push back. And when she did, oh, it was satisfying as hell.

Lu was super disappointing for me. Lu is the same character we've been seeing since Divergent or Throne of Glass: the badass female character who is so impulsive and full of pride that her personality always puts her in danger. She lacked nuance to set her apart from the heaping pile of #strong female characters in YA, making her instantly forgettable and generic.

Nok was...fine? He wasn't the hyper-masculine YA love interest, which was refreshing, but overall I just found his character bland. His chapters bored me. His chapters bored me worse once the insta-love kicked in. Yup, that's right folks, this book features the same insta-love you find in every other "princess must reclaim her throne" YA fantasy novel.

What really carried this novel, besides Min, was the writing. I find a lot of YA authors have writing that's too simple or disjointed for my tastes, but Mimi Yu's prose flowed well and the descriptions were nicely executed. While I think this book was a little too light on the world-building, enough effort was put into the writing to make its Asian-inspired world feel tangible. This isn't the paper-thin world-building you'll find in other YA fantasies. I'm still confused on the magic system, however.
Profile Image for Sophia (Bookwyrming Thoughts).
656 reviews230 followers
January 8, 2019
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I wanted to like this book.
In fact, I wanted to love The Girl King. Sisters! Rivals! Betrayal! Family! War! Mimi Yu's debut smells of an action-packed adventure with sibling rivalry, magic and court politics that would be hard to put down. Bonus points for #OwnVoices.

But much disappointment has occurred.
Bookwyrms, much disappointment has indeed occurred. I spent loads of time deciding if I should continue trekking my way through The Girl King or calling it quits. Eventually, at 50% through, I decided to call it a day because we don't have time for books that aren't enjoyable.

We're not going to talk much about the problems involved.
"Slipskin" feels awfully weird for a shifter/werewolf influence, bookwyrms. Sure, it's "slipping" out of one's "skin" and into another "slipping" into another "skin." But is it just me, or do I think of something gross and slimy at the thought? 🤔

And let's not get started with "pink." I legit thought of newly born babies.

Vicky from Vicky Who Reads has this covered in more detail in her review. (I guarantee you her post is 100x more professional.)

I didn't connect with anything in The Girl King.
Sure, I went to at least halfway through the book, but it was a whole lot of back and forth reading between this book and another one. I didn't care about the storyline or the world, even though I could relate to some of the cultural influences included. Despite enjoying Lu's fierceness, I ultimately didn't care about Lu or any of the other characters involved. I found myself interested in continuing the book at some points, but at the same time, I didn't really care.

This review was originally posted on Bookwyrming Thoughts
Profile Image for Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard.
1,144 reviews244 followers
February 9, 2019
4.75 / 5 stars

Holy crap! This book took elements from like EVERY ya fantasy series that I love and then made them work and focused on the sisters and their relationships instead of the romances (can I get a damn amen?!). The pacing was great, the characters were really well defined and I loved all of the influences/parallels of real world colonisation infused (the opium wars, for one). My only criticism is that the magic system and paranormal aspects need to be more fleshed out and explained because it really lacked structure
Displaying 1 - 30 of 519 reviews

Join the discussion

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.