Review: The Girl King by Mimi Yu

Title: The Girl King
Author: Mimi Yu
Genre: Fantasy
Source: ARC via BookExpo
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Publication Date: January 8th 2019
Hardcover, 496 pages

Two sisters become unwitting rivals in a war to claim the title of Emperor in this richly imagined, Asian-inspired fantasy for fans of Renée Ahdieh and Sabaa Tahir. Sisters Lu and Min have always known their places as the princesses of the Empire of the First Flame: the eldest, assertive Lu, will be named her father's heir and become the dynasty's first female ruler, while timid Min will lead a quiet life in Lu's shadow. Then their father names their male cousin Set the heir instead, throwing both girls' lives into chaos. Determined to reclaim her birthright, Lu is forced to flee, leaving Min to face the volatile court alone. Lu crosses paths with Nokhai, the lone, unlikely survivor of the decimated Ashina, nomadic wolf shapeshifters. Nok never learned to shift--and he has no trust for the Empire that killed his family--but working with the princess might be the key to unlocking his true power. As Lu and Nok form a tenuous alliance, Min's own hidden power awakens--a forbidden, deadly magic that could secure Set's reign . . . or allow her to claim the throne herself. But there can only be one Emperor, and the sisters' greatest enemy could very well turn out to be each other. Told in three distinct points-of-view, this first book in a sweeping fantasy series weaves a story of ambition, betrayal, and sacrifice.

I met Mimi at BookExpo in 2018 and she is so sweet and amazing (and has some pretty amazing tattoos) and it easily one of my highlights of the conference. But The Girl King has sat on my bookcase since June when in November I finally decided to give The Girl King a try and I made it about 20% before I put it to the side and said I would go back to it. It sucks when you are really excited for a book and then just don't love it. Sadly that was the case with The Girl King. It is beautifully written Asian inspired fantasy that will have you immersed from the first page. But my relationship with this book is: "It's not you, it's me." 

The first few chapters I was really intrigued and eager to learn what was going on. Like I said, The Girl King is beautifully written and Mimi did not spare one second on building her characters. Each POV is distinctive and you could just tell by their voice whose POV you were reading from. The world is lush and the traditions are beautiful. Mimi created two sisters who are complete and total opposites and each with motives of their own for wanting the throne. 

My biggest problem was that by 50% point of The Girl King nothing much had really happen. Where the book started off nicely with world building that made complete sense, but the halfway mark my head was spinning. This totally might be a me issue and maybe with The Girl King not being the book for me. But this book is almost 500 pages long, so by pretty much 250ish pages I really wasn't sure what was going on. The time frame also jumps a lot, so in Min's POV suddenly a month has passed by but it doesn't seem like that in Lu's POV at times.  

Overall I really think The Girl King just wasn't for me and it was more of a me issue then the actual book. I do encourage you to pick this book up because it does contain beautiful writing and it has been loved by so many so far. I am excited to see what Mimi is going to write after The Girl King with all things considered. 

(2.5 stars!)

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