Here there be dragons... and we're always up for a good dragon story!
Faryn Liu and her brother, Alex, are outcasts in the San Francisco Jade Society. Without their Ba, father, they're poorer than the other kids, the other kids taunt them and they aren't allowed to publicly train to be elite Warriors of the Jade Society.
Then during the Lunar New Year Parade through Chinatown, Faryn runs to the store to get medicine for her sick grandfather, Ye Ye, and on the way home encounters a nian -- a demon -- she helps a god slay! But she tells no one, as it's been decades since the gods graced the Society with their presence.
Erlang Shen, the Emperor's nephew, shows up at their banquet and announces a quest with four challenges for the Heaven Breaker -- a human warrior destined to lead the Jade Emperor's armies. If the Heaven Breaker can complete the tasks and wield the staff of power, Fenghuang, and make it to the royal banquet on Peng Lai Island in time, the Heaven Breaker will be installed as the Emperor's strongest general. Fail, and demons will attack and destroy all they know and love in the coming demon-war.
Before Faryn and Alex even get started, the elite Jade Society decides another boy is the Heaven Breaker. He steals her Ba's journal, with all his knowledge about the heavenly island's location. Only with help from another god can Faryn and Alex catch up and complete the tasks.
At that point, the book follows a bit of a formula, but it has a purpose: Faryn fights with the staff, loses and has to ask the gods -- or really, one god in particular, the one speaking to her through the staff -- for help and a "power boost" to defeat the enemy. She never questions who's responding, what their agenda is, or what price she'll be expected to pay for all these bursts of life-saving extra strength.
A fun, enjoyable read with a twist ending!
There's been a slew of fantasy based on cultural mythology published in the last year or so, and so much of it is so darn serious. Downright dark and broody. This tale is anything but.
I had a fun time reading this one, and the author's note at the beginning, "This is cheesy as heck," encouraged us to not take it quite so seriously.
It continues Faryn's fight against the Jade Emperor, and her angst over her adopted brother Alex's choice to become the Emperor's General and lead his forces against humanity. But there's a light-hearted tone to it all that makes it a breeze to read, as opposed to a heavy emotional roller coaster.
This time Faryn and her friends, Ren (half-dragon, light crush), Moli (ghost), and the half-demon spawn kids, Jordan and Ashley, from the New Order Warriors, have to recruit a "new ally" -- the Monkey King. Who's a bit full of himself, despite having lost his most powerful of all weapons, the Ruyi Jingu Bang.
Guess who needs to pull it out of Diyu -- the underworld -- before he'll commit to helping humanity? That's right, Faryn and friends.
Ren takes a little detour at the beginning, which we don't get to see because the book is from Faryn's POV, and to be honest, I was kinda really hoping to get to watch him train in the Dragon Kings' realm. I love dragons, and I wanted to see the author switch POVs, but that's not the way this series is looking like it's going to be written.
In any case, of course nothing goes as planned. Not getting the Ruyi Jingu Bang, not the deal with the Monkey King, and certainly not Faryn's finale encounter with Alex (who I suspect is up to something totally different than what Faryn thinks).
I won't spoil the twists; you'll have to read to find out for yourself! Enjoy!