Review: Yellowface

Review: Yellowface

Rating: 2 out of 5.

*I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

When Juniper Song witnesses her rival Athena Liu’s death, she does the unimaginable: she steals a manuscript about the contributions of Chinese labourers to the war efforts during World War I. She submits it to her agent as her own work. From there, June receives a career revival; she makes the lists her debut failed to reach, and she is invited to significant events that shunned her years before; Liu’s story makes her a star. But how far can she go living in Liu’s spotlight? Or will someone from their past drag her back into the shadows? 

I genuinely commend R.F. Kuang for traversing into a genre that is not typical of her fantasy sphere, but I did not enjoy this as much as her previous releases, which is true heartbreak. Yellowface is dark and grim, a witty tale about the state of the publishing industry and the erasure of non-white voices. Kuang knows how to write messy people, and Juniper Song might be the greatest example of that. I thoroughly enjoyed how the story highlights several problems within the publishing industry.

Perhaps, in her way of being meta about publishing, it felt too much. At one point, I was just wondering if I was reading my Twitter timeline. Yellowface is undoubtedly well-written, but the narrative voice was perhaps unbearable and repetitive to the point where even at the end, where we see her antics reach their peak, I was glad to be done with her. 

This book will be great for another reader, but for me, it just wasn’t working. In an attempt to be satirical, Yellowface falls flat in a tale that I would call Book Twitter on a regular Monday.