Friday Firsts – The Poppy Wars by R.F. Kuang

May 4, 2018


Friday Firsts is a new meme that will run every Friday here on Tenacious Reader. It will feature the first few sentences/paragraph of my current book and my first impressions as well. It’s meant to be a quick and easy way to share a bit about what I am reading, and I would love to hear others join in sharing their current reads as well.

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
Also by this author: The Poppy War
Published by Harper Voyager on May 1st 2018
Pages: 544

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Chapter 1

“Take your clothes off.”

Rin blinked. “What?”

The proctor glanced up from his booklet. “Cheating prevention protocol.” He gestured across the room to a female proctor. “Go with her, if you must.”

Rin crossed her arms tightly across her chest and walked toward the second proctor. She was led behind a screen, patted thoroughly to make sure she hadn’t packed test materials up any orifices, and then handed a formless blue sack.

“Put this on,” said the proctor.

“Is this really necessary?” Rin’s teeth chattered as she stripped. The exam smock was too large for her; the sleeves draped over her hands so that she had to roll them up several times.

“Yes.” The proctor motioned for her to sit down on a bench. “Last year twelve students were caught with papers sewn into the linings of their shirts. We take precautions. Open your mouth.”

Rin obliged.

The proctor prodded her tongue with a slim rod. “No discoloration, that’s good. Eyes wide open.”

“Why would anyone drug themselves before a test?” Rin asked as the proctor stretched her eyelids. The proctor didn’t respond.

Satisfied, she waved Rin down the hallway where other prospective students waited in a straggly line. Their hands were empty, faces uniformly tight with anxiety. They had brought no materials to the test— pens could be hollowed out to contain scrolls with answers written on them.

“Hands out where we can see them,” ordered the male proctor, walking to the front of the line. “Sleeves must remain rolled up past the elbow. From this point forward, you do not speak to one another. If you have to urinate, raise your hand. We have a bucket in the back of the room.”

“What if I have to shit?” a boy asked.

The proctor gave him a long look.

“It’s a twelve-hour test,” the boy said defensively.

The proctor shrugged. “Try to be quiet.”

Rin had been too nervous to eat anything that morning. Even the thought of food made her nauseated. Her bladder and intestines were empty. Only her mind was full, crammed with an insane number of mathematical formulas and poems and treatises and historical dates to be spilled out on the test booklet. She was ready.

Kuang, R. F. (2018-05-01). The Poppy War: A Novel (Kindle Locations 71-91). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.


My First Impressions

I am absolutely loving this book. It hooked me from the very beginning. The description of the anti-cheating protocols sounds insane, so I immediately want to know what kind of test this is, how she will do, and what it means to do well. I am enjoying the style of writing. It is, to put it simply, just very, very readable, the kind of writing that instantly pulls you into the story and gives you an idea of the type of “personality” the book or main character will have.

What are you reading right now? Did it start out strong? Feel free to share in the comments


  • Tammy @Books, Bones & Buffy May 4, 2018 at 8:33 am

    I want this book so badly! I think it’s going to have to wait a while, but one of these days?
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  • fanfiaddict May 4, 2018 at 9:44 am

    The Wolf by Leo Carew. Starting out pretty strong. Really enjoying it so far!

  • Lisa May 4, 2018 at 10:52 am

    I really did love this book. Let me know your thoughts when you get to the latter half. 😀

  • Melliane May 4, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    yes I saw a great review about this one
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  • Ted Jackson May 4, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff. So far really good! I hear a tv show is being made from the book and I can see why.

  • Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky May 4, 2018 at 9:10 pm

    Reading the exact same thing as you, and I just finished chapter one! 😀 I completely agree–it’s super readable and I’m excited to get to know Rin better.

  • Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum May 4, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    This book is so good! It’s funny though, because the “personality” of it does change near the end, which is why I’m curious to hear what you think once you get to the final part 😀
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  • Maddalena@spaceandsorcery May 5, 2018 at 10:59 am

    I love books that drag you in with such a strong beginning: it’s as if the author grabbed you by the shirt with no intention of letting go. Not that I would go, at this point… 😀
    Thanks for sharing!
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  • sjhigbee May 6, 2018 at 6:33 am

    I’ve heard of great things about this book and I’m glad that you are enjoying it so much:)).