Not for me

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Typically I don't like to write spoilers in my review but unfortunately I won't be able to give my opinion about the book without it.

At first, I wasn't familiar with the Three Kingdoms that this book was inspired by so I went in with an open mind. After I completed the book, I went back and read a summary which didn't help too much. Luckily, Joan explained the inspiration and comparisons found in this novel with the Three Kingdoms. I could easily see where the similarities came into play but I did not let that change my perspective of the book.

Strike the Zither starts off pretty interesting. Right at the beginning, the book starts off intense as Ren is on the run from Miasma, the dangerous warlordess. The only way to distract Miasma from Ren's party is to pretend to defect to her which goes surprisingly well. Zephyr successfully distracts Miasma from Ren's party to go towards the South where Zephyr wants to convince the governess there to really side with Ren. It was all interesting and that was pretty much the first part of the book. The pacing was decent and kept me interested enough to see what was going to happen next. Then the second part happens and that's where the story completely loses me. Not lost as in I didn't know what was going on, but lost my interest and I was finishing just to finish.

The story reveals that Zephyr is actually a God who was put into Qilin as a punishment from the Masked Mother for causing the famine. As a God, Zephyr was not good. But once Zephyr was able to receive her Qi back, she couldn't get the mortals out of her mind. However, Zephyr's body was past the point of re-entry. So what does she do, but inhabits Lotus' body where the spirit had no chance of re-entering. I just did not like Zephyr as Lotus. It all felt too weird and honestly, I felt like everyone was almost dumb for not realizing that Lotus wasn't acting like herself. Seriously, the only time Zephyr sounded like Lotus was for the few sentences she caught herself on. If they were all as close as they were supposed to be, I think it'd be pretty obvious that something was off with Lotus. But anyways, I just did not like this part of the story. It felt so disconnected from the beginning and Zephyr as Lotus just did not work for me.

Then the "twist" happens. Granted, I didn't really see the twist coming, but I also didn't care enough to try and see it coming. It was alright, but definitely not unexpected. It just followed the line of bad characters that I don't care for doing more things that made me dislike them more.

And now the characters. At the beginning, it was clear the Zephyr was definitely arrogant and then the revealing of her as a God made sense. It made me like her a little more because Gods are confident but in a human form, I can tell how that confidence came off as arrogant. Even though Zephyr at the time didn't know she was a God, I'm sure some of that Qi could easily leak into her mortal self. As Lotus, though, I just couldn't take it. Zephyr said she did all this for Ren but it seemed more like she did it for herself. Clearly Ren hated this and would have never sacrificed someone in order to obtain her goals. This was made as "this is why strategists do this" but again, Zephyr absolutely went beyond Ren's beliefs but tried to justify as it was for Ren. When it boils down to it, it is absolutely clear that this was for Zephyr's ego.

Then there was the whole Crow romance, which I could have bought if there was any time put in between the two of them. The brief interactions that happened in the book, did not provide enough for me the feelings that Zephyr had gotten. And beyond that, I really didn't care for any of the other characters. I think the only one I semi liked was Tourmaline.

Overall, Strike the Zither by Joan He just was not for me. If you reached the end of this review, you can tell that I had a lot of issues with it. Personally, I did not like the decision made in the second half of the book to put Zephyr in Lotus' body. There were a whole bunch of issues with it for me. I also did not really like any of the characters or the so called romance that was budding between Zephyr and Crow. I think some people will look past everything that didn't work for me and I can't wait for other people to love this book. However, this was a pass for me and I will probably not continue this series.