Reviews

Phoenix Extravagant, by Yoon Ha Lee

lojovski's review

Go to review page

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

5.0

sebrittainclark's review

Go to review page

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

4.0

This was such a good, short read. The world building with magic pigments that bring automaton to life was fascinating, and I loved that this story in a world full of war, conquest, and colonization was told through the perspective of an artist, not a traditional fighter. 

becktothefuture's review

Go to review page

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

2.0

superpuffin's review

Go to review page

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

Go to review page

adventurous funny

4.25

isabella_hansen's review

Go to review page

5.0

Absolutely amacing.

pfadfinderin's review

Go to review page

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

Go to review page

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

Go to review page

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

Go to review page

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.