Reviews

Shanghailanders by Juli Min

capeannie's review

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emotional mysterious reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character

3.5

More of a series of interconnected storage stories about the same family than a novel. Beautifully written, but somewhat frustrating because the stories move backwards in time and I found myself wanting to know what happened next.

jaylee_books's review

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adventurous emotional reflective 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

4.0

poppetreads's review

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mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

me_alley's review against another edition

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

2.75

it is a family drama, but the chapters go in reverse.   We start in 2040 and work our way back to 2014.  That is kind of interesting.  The reader sometimes knows more than the characters on the page; you know their future.   It would be better if I cared about them, though. 

avidreadr's review

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emotional reflective slow-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

This novel has incredibly realistic and fleshed out characters. The whole Yang family was fully fleshed and bursting through the pages, which is pretty impressive since the reader doesn’t spend too much time on any given moment or character. The story is told in vignettes, in varying perspectives, with little narrative connection across the chapters. Except of course, for the Yang family - they are the life blood of this novel and reading it, you really do get to know each character so uniquely. 

This isn’t a book with one big denouement or one main character. It looks at a family, and explores how each person has their inner self that exists alongside but separate from their familial self (at least IMO). 

More thoughts : this book is really impressive as a debut. Really focused prose and engaging writing. If you go in expecting a quieter read I think it would be more enjoyable than expecting a drama filled plot

jessesuth's review

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3.25

i'm tired of reading about miserable people

sarahjsnider's review against another edition

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3.25

This is more about vibes than plot revelations. Don’t expect too many major secrets to be revealed, just perspectives on the characters. Upper-income Shanghai is so different than the rest of China that the familiar parts were more rare than in other Chinese fiction. 

kat_fields's review against another edition

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dark emotional reflective sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

This book is more vibes than plot (the backwards structure means that it feels like a collection of short stories), but it is wonderfully written. 

mhmrose's review

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emotional hopeful lighthearted reflective relaxing 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? It's complicated

5.0

A dazzling debut for Juli Min. Shanghailanders has such a unique plot that it stands out in Contemporary fiction, yet is written in a smart, simplistic way that doesn't overwhelm readers and keeps them engrossed in the tale. I fell in love from the first page and read Min's novel in a few days, engrossed in the interesting combination of science fiction and family drama. Min created a beautifully human novel that weaves humanity, family, love and time together in a heartfelt message as time moves backwards on the Yang family.

I highly recommend Shanghailanders if you love contemporary fiction, a unique science fiction novel or a good family drama that tugs your heartstrings without immense sadness.

Thank you, NetGalley and Spiegel & Grau for sending me an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

leeuhhhh's review

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4.0

3.5/5! I have such mixed feelings because I found the reverse chronological order very hard to follow, but also so vital for the premise of the book. As a debut, this was a huge risk to take and I think for the most part, it paid off.

The book delved into themes of family, relationships, and marriage, and provided a unique perspective on different cultures and how time impacts various aspects of life. Overall, this was an enjoyable and highly unique read, but I almost wish it was longer because I didn't have enough time to fully connect with any of the characters.