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