My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I heard about Silver Phoenix as yet another example of a trend that bothers the hell out of me: putting white faces on the covers of books that are not about white people. Thus, I wanted to give this book a bit of support. But, given that Cindy Pon was an unfamiliar author, I opted to check the book out of the library first and see whether this was a story I’d want to own.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t. I’m writing this review several months after I actually read the book, and at this point, I have to admit that I have very little recollection of what it was about–this being a measure of how little it stayed with me. So I had to refresh my memory by reading other people’s reviews of the story, which got me three overall problems I have with the book.
One, I never found any of the characters particularly well-drawn. I often have this problem reading YA, but Silver Phoenix is worse than other YA I’ve written, since the characters were ephemeral enough that I didn’t retain them at all within months of readin the book.
Two, I specifically didn’t care for the heroine’s love interest, and how he was so dismissive of her after one scene where she is almost raped. (Which some might call a spoiler, but which I’m noting here as a potential trigger warning for those who might find that scene an issue.)
And three, the heroine Ai Ling is sadly pretty much a non-entity. I’m calling her out separately from the rest of the cast because, as the ostensible protagonist of the novel, she should have stood out for me far better than she actually did. Yet the book doesn’t give her nearly as much agency as it does her love interest, Chen Yong–and much of what I do remember about the book involves Ai Ling pining after Chen Yong. Which I can do without. One star.