Reviews

Phoenix Extravagant, by Yoon Ha Lee

superpuffin's review

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adventurous reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

vitaminemgee's review

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adventurous funny

4.25

isabella_hansen's review

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5.0

Absolutely amacing.

pfadfinderin's review

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adventurous mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

1nightwing7's review

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adventurous medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

heathwitch's review

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4.0

Phoenix Extravagant is an amazing, breathtaking piece of work which centres a non-binary artist in the middle of a war. All Jebi wants to do is paint, but their life is turned upside down when they are hired by the government to paint mystical symbols on the automaton soldiers — and then discovers the horror that sits beneath all they’ve come to understand as their world. Pretty soon, Jebi cannot stay out the politics that surrounds them…

Drawing on the occupation of Korea by the Japanese as inspiration, Yoon Ha Lee creates a fantasy world unlike any I’ve previously encountered — lavish and extravagant, yet also horrific and brutal. The narrative has a lot to say about colonialism, cultural obliteration, invasions, conquests, love, family, the importance of the arts, and choice. It’s bloodthirsty in places, beautiful in many others, and mysterious throughout. Arazi, the sentient mecca-dragon, steals the show for me despite not being the protagonist.

I particularly loved that the world is so inclusive: LGBTQIA+, polyamory, and other forms of relationships are all considered the norm, and it was a breath of fresh air and freedom. Overall, this was a great standalone with a fun story and the power of one person to stand against tyranny.

Highly recommended.

I received an e-ARC from the publisher, Solaris, through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

macroscopicentric's review

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adventurous emotional fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

This was simple and charming. Jebi is a meek but sweet and determined protagonist, and the parallels to Korea and Japan give the mythology a satisfying sense of having a lot of depth that we don’t get directly from the book. The overall effect is very fairy tales-ish, where the book flows as you’d expect and you get just enough of the magical rules to feel satisfied that there’s a consistent system, but it’s not a naive book and that’s also part of its charm. It’s a fairy tale, there are trials for the protagonist, and some things are unfair, and the ending feels like an ending even though we know there’s more to tell.

osmosead's review

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adventurous emotional inspiring sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

5.0

katiekat's review

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5.0

Jebi was torn between saying 'You are embarrassing me' and 'I am going to take up my brush and make a painting of you that they will talk about for the next 10,000 years.' They said neither.

Clearly, Yoon Ha Lee's writing style really works for me - this was strange and definitely more worldbuilding-focused than character-focused, but I really enjoyed it! (And even though the characters weren't always the most developed, I still loved Jebi, and Arazi)

gayliott's review

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adventurous emotional mysterious tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

5.0

I usually dont like dystopian fantasy but this was really good