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Zachary Ying and The Dragon Emperor

Wowwww!!! This #arc floored me, and I learned so so much from it and cannot stop raving about how awesome it is!!!!❤️❤️

Genre: Upper MG Fantasy

Ages: 11/12 plus

Available: Amazon (preorder!!!)

Screening: a few crushes mentioned, some fighting, fantasy aspects like magic, reincarnation, spirits, and mythical god references.

Zachary Ying is a young tween living in America with his single mom. He doesn’t know much about his Chinese heritage, and he doesn’t fully fit in with his gaming friends with his Muslim and Chinese background. While throwing away his Chinese lunch one day (relatable immigrant experience), another Chinese boy appears-this makes Zack a bit nervous, as his dad was executed in China for speaking out against what the government does to the Uyghur Muslims (a different ethnic background than the Hui Muslims of which he is).

But his new friend Simon appears just in time to save his mother from a spirit attack and to get her spirit back, Zack must join Simon, travel to China, and allow an Emperor of China to “possess” him through his VR to strengthen his magic and save China in the whole process!

I mean- this book truly is masterfully written! I can see tween and teen boys being obsessed with reading it, as it has a lot of gaming references and is so relatable! The voice and writing was truly so authentic and the fantasy swept me away! I found myself cheering for Zach and getting emotional for him too at the sad parts.

I loved the Islamic rep!!! Zach’s mother wears a hijab, they practice Ramadan, eat halal food, mentions the Quran, and he is very cognizant of his Islamic identity and it is part of who he is. I loved how he mentions that Ramadan has a Chinese word for it meaning “fasting month” and this shows the diversity of Muslims and is so beautiful to see!

I was obsessed with all the Chinese culture references I learned, including Chinese legends and history and food and language! The author does an amazing job representing their pride in their heritage and culture while also calling out the injustices of the Chinese government- and the author themself is a Hui so it truly felt authentic!

Such a well done book-can’t wait for BOOK 2!!!!!

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