Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Iron Widow (Iron Widow, #1)” as Want to Read:
Iron Widow (Iron Widow, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Iron Widow

(Iron Widow #1)

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  32,796 ratings  ·  8,626 reviews
An instant #1 New York Times bestseller!

Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid’s Tale in this blend of Chinese history and mecha science fiction for YA readers.

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental
ebook, 386 pages
Published September 21st 2021 by PRH Canada Young Readers
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.23  · 
Rating details
 ·  32,796 ratings  ·  8,626 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Iron Widow (Iron Widow, #1)
anna (½ of readsrainbow)
rep: Chinese-coded cast & setting, disabled bi mc, bi mcs, polyamory
tw: gore, murder, torture, mentions of rape, threats of rape, misogyny, femicide, suicide ideation, abuse, alcohol addiction

Review also on Reads Rainbow. ARC provided by the publisher.

Irow Widow is the feminist agenda, actually.

It’s almost impossible to pinpoint one single thing that ensures Irow Widow is such a spectacular novel, and that’s because all the ingredients are equally amazing. Let us start, though, with arguably th
Xiran Jay Zhao
Mar 22, 2020 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition

The Iron Widow cover with a duel disk edited onto Zetian's arm

PS You can find more pretty art, memes, and the mecha designs on my website! 😛
A series of three artworks featuring Zetian, Shimin, and Yizhi

Been seeing some confusion about this so thought I'd clarify here: this book is not historical fantasy or alternate history! It's a story set in a totally different sci-fi world with characters who are only inspired by historical figures from across Chinese history (not just the Tang dynasty). Lots of creative liberties were taken for thematic purposes, so the character
chai ♡
"Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid's Tale in a polyamorous reimagining of China's only female emperor"

I have finally gotten around to reading this book and I AM SO GIDDY WITH EXCITEMENT LET’S GO
May 04, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I need to preface this by saying I enthusiastically requested this arc because Xiran is one of my all-time favorite influencers. Their commentary, videos, etc, I love them. But this book is bad.


-Feminist story
- Alt love triangle (MFM poly it seems?)
- Scifi/alt-history
- Chinese history inspired
- Big robots
- Bisexual rep

Back to the book itself, the tagline is Pacific Rim meets Handmaid's Tale (It does rely a lot on Pacific Rim) Zetian is a young girl who offers herself up to pair with
I'm upset that a book marketed as a feminist breakthrough only portrays feminism as something extremely violent, which is actually a harmful stereotype that this book, which prides itself on breaking stereotypes, perpetuates. It's supposed to be this revolutionary feminist book, but it just preserves misogynistic ideas under the guise of being empowering. For all of its sweeping talk about breaking barriers and supporting women (which I do love, just not paired with what actually happens in this ...more
mina reads™️
Polyam instead of love triangles in YA? We stan. The rest of the story left alot to be desired though.

ARC Provided by the Author & Caffeine Book Tours

"This world does not deserve my respect. It is not worthy of my kindness or compassion."

I’ll be completely honest, when I read the author note at the start of this book I knew I was about to fall in love with a new story. Xiran Jay Zhao lets the reader know that you are about to get a love letter to Chinese culture, Chinese history, and the only female Chinese emperor! The author does not shy away from the ugly things, but always shines
Nov 03, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this book was badass. literally i felt so powerful reading this. Zetian has such a strong and ruthless personality which was so refreshing to read about. she’s morally grey, need i say more?

the characters in this book are the best part. i wasn’t invested in the plot but these characters were relatable and fierce which made up for it. between the 3 main characters, there were such cute moments that made me all giddy and happy inside. they have my whole heart.

there was romance in here but it was d
Jul 30, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-worst
Take a shot every time you read the line "nipple eyes"

Let me preface this review by saying I am genuinely a fan of Xiran’s other content. I have been following them since their book deal was first announced and I love their insights into Chinese history, so naturally I was so excited for this novel. To say I'm disappointed is uh... a severe understatement.

I wanted to like this. I could have forgiven a lot for this book. But when I finished, I ended up feeling like Zetian – full of feminist rage,
Chloe Gong
May 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely epic. This is the historical-inspired, futuristic sci-fi mash-up of my wildest dreams. Iron Widow charges headfirst into a world of giant mechas and uncompromising characters. The brutal beauty of Xiran Jay Zhao’s writing kept me glued to the page from start to finish.
i had no intention of reading this - it just didnt sound like a story that would work for me. but i kept seeing all of the 5 star reviews and i ultimately caved into the peer pressure. but i should have listened to my gut instinct saying this wouldnt be for me.

i objectively can acknowledge all of the aspects that have made this book successful so far - an interesting sci-fi premise, characters inspired by chinese history, the visibility/representation, and prominent feminist themes. all great st
Nov 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Screaming, shaking, shitting my pants, crying, and losing my mind over this book. I came for the polyamorous and stayed for the absolute mind blowingly crafted world that is the Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Althea ☾
*ARC sent by the publisher -Penguin Teen/Penguin Random House Canada- for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

You know what… the most accurate analogy for this book really is Attack on Titan but it make it mecha Sci-Fi set in a dystopian era inspired by historical China. By that, I mean the vibe with how vulnerable it can be but also violent, and how the lore is made to be.

I do think the writing style could have been a tad more whimisical and nuanced because this one really is in you
Rebecca Roanhorse
Sep 17, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been watching a lot anime lately with my teenage daughter and this YA novel, self-described as Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid’s Tale, felt like spending time in some of the best anime. It's a thrilling, heartbreaking, raging rollercoaster of a book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is probably not one of those crossover adult books; the writing style and characters feel squarely YA to me, and that's just fine. The book need not appeal to adults, as it has its own merits. One of them being ...more
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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

So I think I've developed a reputation on this site for being a bit of a hard-ass, but when I pick up a book, all I really ask for is to be entertained. To me, if an author can't deliver on that one note, they deserve to get a low rating. I was a little leery about picking up IRON WIDOW, even though I really liked the author's YouTube videos, because the YA fantasy genre has basically been serving the disappointment as regularly as an Am
luce ✨ wishfully reading ✨
| | blog | tumblr | ko-fi | |

“But I have no faith in love. Love cannot save me.
I choose vengeance.”

Xiran Jay Zhao has written an ambitious debut novel that should definitely appeal to fans of Pacific Rim & The Hunger Games. Iron Widow is likely one of the most creative books that I've read this year (which is saying something given that atm my read count is around 150+) as it presents readers with a unique blend of genres and concepts: fantasy and sci-fi elements are incorporated in a dystop
Now a Goodreads Choice finalist in Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction!

Iron Widow is utter insanity. I couldn’t get enough of it. I haven’t seen Pacific Rim, but if it’s anything like monster Transformers beating the crap out of each other while tiny humans operate them from the inside, then yes. Yes, that’s exactly what this was.

Zetian has a plan. It’s not a particularly well thought-out plan, but it’s the one she’s sticking to. It’s all really pretty simple; she will volunteer as a concu
Lia Carstairs
I got some Skyward vibes from this and I just loved it so much.

Also Zetian, please marry me.

The Hunduns who are dangeous creatures and are trying to destroy society which lies in the Great Wall ~ the Krell who are also dangerous and mysterious creatures trying to destroy the human race/

Fighter pilots who use Chrysalises (aka mechas) to battle against the Hunduns to defend their home ~ Pilots who use fighter jets to battle the Krell and defend their land

Society is against this one girl
Lucie V.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley (thank you Penguin Random House Canada). All thoughts and opinions are my own.

✅ Characters
✅ Romance (very mild, it does not take much space in the story but it is well done)
✅ Polyamorous relationship
✅ Pace
✅ Plot
✅ Unexpected ending
✅🆗 World-building
❗️❗️ Trigger warnings: mentions of rape, emotional and physical abuse, and alcoholism

This book is really entertaining and gripping! It's a great story about the ugliness of misogyny at its worse, taking
Apr 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3-recommended

✨ Inspired by East Asian mythology?
✨ Pitched as Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid's Tale?
✨ A young woman trying to smash the patriarchy with her own two hands?
✨ A love triangle that ends with a healthy, polyamorous relationship?
✨ Revenge-driven plot?

This book is so queer and Asian, and none of us is ready for the flavor it's about to bring to the world.


Iron Widow to the straights:

Cindy ✩☽♔
All the stars in the world!!!

This book might be everything I've ever wanted in a YA book. EVER.

I always tend to be annoyed when books promise me darkness and bloodshed but fail to deliver. This book, on other hand, lives up to its promises. Zetian is a determined, fierce, young woman with a vendetta. She is not tied down by what society deems as appropriate or the morals and shame they try to force upon her. For all their attempts to oppress her, they only make her more determined to break fre
Iron Widow is an explosive start to a new scifi series which draws on Chinese history and combines it with a futuristic world and technology to create something truly unique. With queer characters and a polyamorous relationship at its centre, a morally grey main character and a feminsit narrative within a patriarchal society, this book is right up my street.

I have been highly anticipating this book since the deal was announced years ago and although it has not become a new favourite as I predict
may ➹
Zetian is so terrifying and merciless and maniacal…… and I think she’s very cool for that!


Lowering my rating from 4 to 3. Iron Widow was quite a fun book to read and I flew through it—its fast pace kept me on my toes, and I was fascinated by Zetian slowly becoming more and more maniacal. Unhinged women are my favorite types of characters, and she was no exception! The writing was also easy to read (if a bit too simple at times), and there were parts that made me actually laugh. This is a very
Samantha Shannon
A triumphant sucker punch to patriarchy – I read it in a couple of sittings, and can't wait for the sequel. ...more
Lex Kent
This was a very entertaining book but not without its problems. I was really excited about this read. While I do tend to read much more sapphic fiction, I love stories about badass women, especially in fantasy and sci-fi settings. This was touted as the Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid's Tale. I thought this was going to be a book about empowering women to take down the patriarchy, with a big badass mech. While yes, this was about badass mechs, I found that it was missing the feminist part of the ...more
J  (Midnight Book Blog)
The characters, the plot, the historical inspiration, the message, the absolutely amazing female lead, and THAT ENDING??? Faith in reading ✓ restored.

Plot: Everything about this world was so fun to read. The Chrysallises were such a cool concept, and I enjoyed learning about different types of Qi and what they mean. I did get a little confused in spots, but I really didn’t care because everything else was just. So. Flawless. I loved the female empowerment, and urge everyone to read the author n
katie ❀
wu zetian, along with her boyfriends, are wholeheartedly invited to step on me.
Era ➴
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me an ARC!

Wow. This is probably the best ARC I’ve gotten.

To be honest, I didn’t really know what I was getting into with this. The synopsis sounded very futuristic/postapocalyptic sci-fi, but as is my custom, I forgot the entire synopsis when I started the book and went in thinking that it was an ancient-Chinese based fantasy.

In reality, “Iron Widow” is somewhat a combination of both those genres, and it’s amazing.

The plot: Wu Zetian lives in a misogynis
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Firekeeper's Daughter
  • Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations, #1)
  • Poison for Breakfast
  • Bridge of Souls (Cassidy Blake, #3)
  • The Never Tilting World (The Never Tilting World, #1)
  • Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)
  • The Mercies
  • Wow, No Thank You.: Essays
  • Catherine House
  • A Good Girl's Guide to Murder (A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, #1)
  • Sword of the Seven Sins (The Seven Sins, #1)
  • Velvet Was the Night
  • Bonds of Brass (The Bloodright Trilogy #1)
  • Deathless Divide (Dread Nation, #2)
  • The Donut Trap
  • Macario's Scepter (Magian, #1)
  • Meet You in the Middle
  • The Nature of Witches
See similar books…
See top shelves…
i'm in a cow suit because 7 years ago i made a promise to my friends to take my author photo in it if i ever got published and i'm sure as hell not backing down ...more

Other books in the series

Iron Widow (2 books)
  • Heavenly Tyrant (Iron Widow, #2)

Articles featuring this book

Looking for new young adult books featuring determined protagonists, sweet romance, and adventures of every kind? Then these authors are...
61 likes · 2 comments
“The entitled assholes of the world are sustained by girls who forgive too easily.” 94 likes
“Men wants us so badly for our bodies, yet hate us so much for our minds.” 85 likes
More quotes…