With war-shamans, Chinese mythological monsters, and a fully-realized social world and back story based on Chinese history, Rebecca Kuang’s The Poppy War is a stunning, distinctive, and completely original debut. Her lead character, Rin, is now the type example of the kick-butt heroine. An outsider — orphan, peasant, dark-skinned — she claws her way into and through the elite military school at Sinegard. Armed with terrible powers taken from the gods, she faces the most extreme moral quandaries of how far she will go to protect her country and to avenge her people. Open the front page, and the story sweeps you away. I can’t believe this is the author’s first book: so accomplished, so powerful, so wonderful! And so, so recommended!
-- A Fantastic Firsts Pick from David
When a freak auto accident kills a driver on the remote roads outside Duluth, Jonathan Stride is disturbed to discover that the victim appears to be a "ghost," with a false identity and no evidence to suggest who he really was. Alarmingly, a gun is found in the car--and the gun has recently been fired.
The next day, Stride learns that a Duluth college student has also vanished, and he worries that the two incidents are related. But what would have put an ordinary young woman in the crosshairs of a man who has all the hallmarks of an assassin for hire?
Stride's investigation of the girl's disappearance leads him into the midst of a film crew in Duluth, where a movie is being made based on a case in Stride's own past. The actor playing Stride is Hollywood royalty, an award-winning icon who has charmed his way to the top of the box office.
But Stride soon hears whispers that his cinematic alter ego has a dark side . . . and in trying to expose the truth, he makes a powerful enemy who will stop at nothing to protect his reputation.