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From critically acclaimed author Cindy Pon comes an edge-of-your-seat sci-fi thriller, set in a near-future Taipei plagued by pollution, about a group of teens who risk everything to save their city.
Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.
With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.
Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is, or destroying his own heart?
ARC received for review purposes in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I have been an admirer of Cindy Pon’s writing and stories ever since I fell in love with her Asian YA fantasy, Serpentine. I was very excited to read Want. It’s not exactly a genre that I gravitate towards, but I had an inkling that the author would craft an amazing story regardless of the genre, and I was right. Want easily sunk its claws into my attention, and until I finished the book, I was invested all throughout.
First of all, I loved the setting of Want. Cindy Pon painted a futuristic-Taipei that was vibrant, gritty and breathtaking in many ways. It’s a society that is so polluted that people have to wear fancy suits, custom produced by Jin Corp, in order to breathe clean air. Only thing, clean air in this version of Taipei has become a luxury, not a right. I think, for me, what made this world so enthralling, yet terrifying was how much of it rang true. This was incredibly realistic, and 100% something that can happen to our own world in a few years if we don’t take take the actions that need to be taken to protect the environment. It’s a scary thing to think about, but I’m beyond impressed and thankful for Cindy Pon for finding a way to educate her teen readers in a thought-provoking and compelling way through her words. Fair warning, Want may be a dystopia, but it’s not the most intensely action-packed story, which I liked. It’s strengths were in the underlying conversations about power dynamics, the environment, politics and social divisions. By not focusing on nonstop action sequences, Cindy Pon diverts the attention to the important stuff. As you can tell, the world building was magnificent, and that wasn’t the only part that was great about Want.
The cast was also brilliant. I am sometimes wary of reading books with male POVs, but Zhou’s male voice was yet another part that Cindy Pon nailed in Want. He was the perfect kind of hero for a book like this – thoughtful, compassionate, and brave beyond words. I admired his and his friends’ passion for wanting to save their city. His determination and kindness really shone through the story, and I really enjoyed being inside his head. His friends, another lively group of teenagers, were also fantastic. They were intelligent superheroes in a certain way, wanting to infiltrate Jin Corp, and fight to make their world better for the poor. I grew attached to all of them, and by the time the book ended, I was a little bummed out that my time with them was over. The romance in Want was also a part of the story that worked for me. It had a bit of a forbidden feel to it with Daiyu being the daughter of the CEO of Jin Corp. I worried that there would be trust issues since Zhou was playing a role around her, but it was handled thoughtfully. I appreciated the lack of drama when the truth finally comes out to Daiyu. I thought she and Zhou balanced each other out, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of them in the sequel.
I’m thrilled that Want turned out to be a compelling story, and even more excited that it’s a book that features an entirely diverse cast. Add this one to your TBRs, guys. You’re going to love it.