August 23rd, 2011

YOU'RE NOT MY DAD

Review: Fury of the Phoenix

Title: Fury of the Phoenix
Author: Cindy Pon ([profile] cindypon)
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Asian Fantasy, Folklore
How I got it: personal purchase (via Indiebound)
Where to buy it: From your local indie bookstore; from Powells; from the Book Depository.
In a nutshell: Fury of the Phoenix is the beautiful follow-up to Cindy Pon's debut novel Silver Phoenix, which was one of my favorite books of 2009. When we left our heroine, Ai Ling, things had settled down for her considerably after a long and tumultuous journey to the capital of Xia (the fictional country based on China's historical Xiang Province), and an epic final confrontation with the villain. Fury of the Phoenix not only picks up where Silver Phoenix left off, but sets us right down in the middle of the action, with Ai Ling fearlessly chasing down a ship bound for the West in order to protect Chen Yong, the hunky dreamboat who's traveling to look for his long lost father.

Ai Ling has had visions that evil awaits Chen Yong, but what she doesn't expect is that instead of launching her into new adventures, her journey will pull her deeper into the past, entangling her further with Zhong Ye, the man she recently killed. In order to finally be free of him, she will have to understand him, as well as the mysterious Silver Phoenix.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Do the characters make you want to rip your own face off? Not at all.

Does the plot make sense? Yes. This book is actually a bit of a surprise (and this seems to be a consensus garnered from my brief perusal of reviews across the internet), in that it centers around the plot of the first book rather than plunging us into a new adventure, which I think most of us were expecting to be Chen Yong's search for his father. It's a risky move, but IMO it pays off beautifully.

Is the prose abysmal? Never. Cindy Pon has sharp, vivid characterizations but a very subtle way of rendering them: she doesn't mire you down in detail or try to be snappy, and her prose style is just flat-out pleasurable to read, in a way few YA authors are.

Does it end on a cliffhanger only designed to make you buy more books? No! At first I thought it might not be accessible to people just picking it up without having read Silver Phoenix, but I've changed my mind: there's enough context, and enough to enjoy in Cindy Pon's prose style, that readers will enjoy this book even if they're coming to it cold.

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Above all, though I am disappointed with the whitewashed cover, and I wanted more of the fairy tale and folklore aspects that made the first novel so unique and remarkable, there was enough in this book to deliver an extremely satisfying and beautifully penned resolution to Ai Ling's tale. In the end I just wanted more of everything: more female characters, more folklore, more food :D :D :D, more sultry moments of UST between her and Chen Yong, more of the hot captain, more of Silver Phoenix--just more of everything.

Which of course, leads me to say that I hope everyone who bought and enjoyed Silver Phoenix will support the sequel. You will want a copy on your shelf. And if you haven't read Silver Phoenix (my review is here), omg what are you waiting for, READ IT, READ IT!

We need writers like Cindy Pon. We need her commitment to telling stories about grace, love, and forgiveness, and we always need her luminous writing style and her proud heroines. I can't wait to read whatever she writes next.

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