The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao | ft. Me, Struggling with Photos

Posted October 8, 2019 by Sophia

The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao | ft. Me, Struggling with Photos

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Content and Trigger Warning: This book contains content that may be triggering to some, which we will try our best provide below the synopsis.
The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao | ft. Me, Struggling with PhotosThe Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao
The Dragon Warrior #1
Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books on October 15, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Mythology
Format: ARC, Physical
Source: Publisher

Inspired by Chinese mythology, this high-action middle-grade fantasy follows an outcast as she embarks on a quest to prove herself--perfect for fans of Aru Shah and the End of Time and The Serpent's Secret.

As a member of the Jade Society, twelve-year-old Faryn Liu dreams of honoring her family and the gods by becoming a warrior. But the Society has shunned Faryn and her brother Alex ever since their father disappeared years ago, forcing them to train in secret.

Then, during an errand into San Francisco, Faryn stumbles into a battle with a demon--and helps defeat it. She just might be the fabled Heaven Breaker, a powerful warrior meant to work for the all-mighty deity, the Jade Emperor, by commanding an army of dragons to defeat the demons. That is, if she can prove her worth and find the island of the immortals before the Lunar New Year.

With Alex and other unlikely allies at her side, Faryn sets off on a daring quest across Chinatowns. But becoming the Heaven Breaker will require more sacrifices than she first realized . . . What will Faryn be willing to give up to claim her destiny?

This richly woven contemporary middle-grade fantasy, full of humor, magic, and heart, will appeal to readers who love Roshani Chokshi and Sayantani DasGupta.

A copy of the book was provided for review purposes - thank you! Receiving a copy does not guarantee a positive review and therefore does not affect the opinion or content of the review.

The Dragon Warrior is such a fun and delightful read

I’m 1000% sure the middle school me who got swallowed by Percy Jackson & the Olympians would devour this book as quickly as she inhales all the dumplings, stuffed buns and dim sum. (Look, they’re comfort food.) The Dragon Warrior really brings back the nostalgia of those times. Katie Zhao wrote a beautiful novel that promises fun and adventure featuring Chinese mythology.

Zhao’s debut novel follows twelve-year-old Faryn Liu as she is revealed to be the Heaven Breaker after she crosses paths with a demon during Lunar New Year Festivities. She and her companions set off on a quest across various Chinatowns to find the island of immortals so she can prove she is worthy to take on the role.

But both she and her brother are outcasts in the Jade Society and have been treated as such for years. To the members in her local Jade Society, she’s not worthy of such an important role and it’s not something she plans for either (does any twelve-year-old though?). But despite frequently thinking about ròu bāo zi (I don’t blame her; meat dumplings are delicious), Faryn readily steps into the role even if she might know what she’s doing or feel ready to potentially command an army.

Full of adventure and humor

The Dragon Warrior is a huge nod to my childhood, featuring various deities and other well-known figures from Chinese mythology. They’re full of wit and sass that brought a constant smile to my face as they aided or deterred Faryn and her companions in the quest. The novel brings in aspects of family, tradition and honor, all of which are important parts of Chinese culture. It’s clear throughout the novel Faryn has a strong bond with not just her brother, but also her Ye Ye.

Zhao’s debut novel is a fast-paced, page-turning adventure that is chock full of humor; it’s easy to forget this is a debut as this is extremely well-written, and I loved every second of it. Honestly, the only thing I’m disappointed is there probably won’t be any sequels. (Someone please tell me there will be one???) The Dragon Warrior is an engrossing story featuring Chinese mythology and tying in various aspects of the culture; I highly recommend this to Chinese American readers who want to see themselves in a world where Chinese mythology clashes into the modern world.

the dragon warrior katie zhao

Bookish Photos!
(AKA future Bookstagram photos)

AKA the fun part where I get to thoroughly embarrass myself and fellow bookstagrammers can relate on a core level. I tried recreating a photo from way back in the day on my Instagram and it was a trip. (It still exists, but it’s now archived, so here’s a reference!)


And resulted in this after tripping (pun intended) over a few books. Let’s just say holding your phone camera and trying to time it while holding a book steady with a wrist brace is a challenge.

(Okay, it’s not that bad and The Dragon Warrior is accompanied by some A+ reads according to various members of the community.) In my defense, I owned fewer books and had no access to a near physical library due to remodeling for like a whole year so there weren’t many books to trip on?

the dragon warrior hannahsophialin

Also please know that foam boards aren’t fun to lie on. 😂 We’re struggling less with a few others, though. (Flatlays are much easier to create, but I kind of wanted to challenge myself with recreating on the first one?)

hannahsophialin the dragon warrior
hannahsophialin the dragon warrior

About Katie Zhao

katie zhao

Katie Zhao is a 2017 graduate of the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English and Political Science, and a 2018 Masters of Accounting at the same university. She is the author of Chinese #ownvoices middle-grade fantasy THE DRAGON WARRIOR (Bloomsbury Kids, October 2019 & 2020), as well as a young adult author. She is a mentor for Author Mentor Match. She is currently open to freelance editorial services for young adult and middle-grade manuscripts.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram

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the dragon warrior

Sophia started blogging in February 2012 for the hell of it and is surprisingly still around. She has a GIF for nearly everything, probably listens to too much K-Pop and is generally in an existential crisis of sorts (she's trying her best). In 2020, she graduated with a Bachelor's in Communications and minor in Women's Studies. More of her bookish reviews and K-pop Roundups can be found at The Arts STL.

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10 responses to “The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao | ft. Me, Struggling with Photos


    I feel like it’s been forever and a day since I’ve blog hopped over to your neck of the woods (oof sorry!) and I miss it! I’m so happy you enjoyed your time with this one! <3

    • Sophia

      SAMMMMMMM. I MISSED YOUR PRESENCE. Not just here, but everywhere. You’ve been a busy person, so it’s okay! (And if it makes you feel better, I haven’t visited anyone in um… weeks?) <3

  2. Love the Instagram photos Sophia! You totally did good. I love using other random books in my photos too. hahaha

    This sounds like so much fun!! Middle grade books can be hit or miss for me and I didn’t love the cover so I passed on even trying for this one… and I clearly made a mistake. I love Chinese mythology and would appreciate seeing the clash with contemporary life. I will have to look it up!! It is sad that there isn’t going to be a sequel. Too bad when it sounds like it just got started.

    • Sophia

      Thanks, Dani! I’m not sure if there will be a sequel – at the moment I can’t find any information about it. But for all I know, there could be one and they haven’t announced it yet, or I somehow missed it! If you’re a fan of Percy Jackson, I would definitely not pass this up and give it a try.

  3. Haley

    Aaaaand I’ve now added this to my tbr, it sounds great!!! I loved your review, and your photos are just plain adorable we need more of you in your bookstagram photos lol

    • Sophia

      Ahahaha, I wish I could put more of me, but that would be less fun in the future as I flail about for other books that I’m super enthusiastic about. (Plus do we really want me lying around on a board all day lol?)

  4. Your Insta photos are lit! I still having trouble to take flat lay photos. Like how am I suppose to know how to position books and what prop suit the book lol?

    • Sophia

      Thanks, Rasya! That is a HUGE mood. I ask myself that every time I take flat lays – there’s only so many positions??? What else can I do to spice up my feed? I don’t know, honestly. How can everyone do it everyday?

  5. I am confused Sophia as you say it’s middle grade (and I don’t doubt you) yet it is said to have triggers like drug abuse and sexual content???? That being said I can see that you really loved it!