Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon 2009
IQ "What was the use of being strong in a past life? Would she be strong enough in this one?"
The quotes in this book weren't too incredible, but the book was still good. The beginning was a bit slow for me. It took a little while for me to get interested, but once the action picked up (Chap. 3 or so) it was fine.
No one wanted Ai Ling. And deep down she is relieved—despite the dishonor she has brought upon her family—to be unbetrothed and free, not some stranger's subservient bride banished to the inner quarters.
But now, something is after her. Something terrifying—a force she cannot comprehend. And as pieces of the puzzle start to fit together, Ai Ling begins to understand that her journey to the Palace of Fragrant Dreams isn't only a quest to find her beloved father but a venture with stakes larger than she could have imagined.
Bravery, intelligence, the will to fight and fight hard . . . she will need all of these things. Just as she will need the new and mysterious power growing within her. She will also need help.
It is Chen Yong who finds her partly submerged and barely breathing at the edge of a deep lake. There is something of unspeakable evil trying to drag her under. On a quest of his own, Chen Yong offers that help . . . and perhaps more. Goodreads.com
Ai Ling was one of my favorite characters. She was strong and shy, (but the shyness was more due to the time period in which she was brought up. Proper young ladies were quiet and acquiescing)but her shyness could be frustrating even though it was the way she was supposed to act, it was hard for me as a modern, out-spoken girl to see another girl not always speak up for herself. However, she is very brave in the story, especially when it really matters.
My other favorite character was Li Rong. Li Rong is Chen Yong's brother, and he provides comic relief throughout the whole story. He's funny and very, very flirtatious. "Chen Yong grinned. 'I haven't beaten you enough?' 'The presence of a beautiful woman'-Li Rong bowed toward Ai Ling-'will inspire me to fight harder.' "I loved his mannerisms and his whole storyline.
Silver Phoenix is very action packed and filled with descriptions of places that allow your imagination to run wild. Sometimes, the action got to be a little too much and I wanted to see more details and dialogue given. Certain parts remain unclear, but hopefully some of them will clear up in the sequel (I presume there's a sequel, the ending was definitely left open!). I loved the places Cindy described! Especially the Golden Palace (the Love Lost Tree was my favorite tree, a large tree that had human hearts hanging from it!). Faraway lands with mythical creatures, beautiful scenes of nature and the food. Lots of food in the book and it all sounds so good! For most of the time while I read this, I had a craving for Chinese food :)
I loved the originality of this novel. I'm so frustrated by the lack of fantasy (and sci fi) YA books about people from various cultures/ethnic backgrounds. Silver Phoenix is an excellent contribution to the fantasy category. I highly recommend this book and you don't need to like fantasy to enjoy this book, Silver Phoenix has something for everyone (fantasy, action, comedy, romance). High school and up.
Thanks so much for the book Cindy! And don't forget to enter my contest for Silver Phoenix, it ends Sept. 5 at 11:59 PM CT (tomorrow!).