Iron Widow

hardcover, 384 pages

English language

Published Sept. 20, 2021 by Penguin Teen.


View on OpenLibrary

4 stars (4 reviews)

Science fiction and East Asian myth combine in this dazzling retelling of the rise of Wu Zetian, the only female emperor in Chinese history

The boys of Huaxia dream of the celebrity status that comes with piloting Chrysalises - giant transforming robots that battle the aliens beyond the Great Wall. Their female co-pilots are expected to serve as concubines and sacrifice their lives.

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, her plan is to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister's death. But on miraculously emerging from the cockpit unscathed after her first battle, the Iron Widow sets her sights on bigger things. The time has come to take on the entire patriarchal military system.

1 edition


5 stars

„Iron Widow“ ist ein lauter, wütender Aufschrei gegen Unterdrückung und missbräuchliche Systeme, die Teile der Bevölkerung als bequeme Ressource verheizen, ohne sie als Menschen zu sehen. Gewürzt wird das ganze mit queeren Charakteren und bombastischen Kämpfen zwischen Mechas und Aliens in einer kreativen Reimagination Chinas.

Everything All At Once

3 stars

I like Xiran Jay Zhao. They're a great content creator and their Twitter is something to behold. So it was only a matter of time until I got to Iron Widow. That time was this week when I had a 5 hour bus journey in front of me and needed something to entertain me.

It was certainly a quick read for my standards. But then, I always seem to eat through YA literature as opposed to everything else I read, even if I go out of it with a sense of dissatisfaction. Which is not really something I felt here, even though the book has left me wanting in the worst possible way. The characters are... fine. Wu Zetian is the main character and thus the most fleshed out. The two love interests (it's an actual love triangle!) are somewhat shallow and everyone else is either window dressing or someone …

UNLIKEABLE CHARACTER AHEAD WOO WOO (and) Ignore the Comp title, but read this book

5 stars

Content warning CW: Abuse of all kinds, death, misogyny, footbinding

avatar for adiva

rated it

4 stars