Author: Cindy Pon
Series: Book 1
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Get it Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Signed/Personalized at the local indie Mysterious Galaxy
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?
Thank you Simon & Schuster for the review copy!
When I read the last page of this book, I was practically stunned and basically laid on my bed, contemplating it for a solid 10 minutes before opening this review. Probably THE Young Adult Science Fiction read of the year, Want left me just wanting more. More of the immersive and vivid futuristic Taiwan setting, more of the diverse band of misfits who come together to fight against the system, more of the forbidden love romance that is as light as it is deceptive. Want was captivating from beginning to end, capturing a heist with Asian characters that is utterly unforgettable. I urge science fiction lovers and readers looking for an exhilarating adventure to hurry up and put this on their TBR!
The book begins with the main character, Jason, kidnapping a girl for ransom. This girl, Daiyu, is discovered to be the daughter of Jin Corporation, the company that his group of friends are infiltrating for their mission. Immediately in the beginning, we see the discrepancy in class. On one hand, there are the yous. These are the wealthy, posh residents who flaunt their privilege in special suits that allow them to enjoy clean air and low temperatures. In Mandarin, you (有) actually means “to have.” Meis, on the other hand, are the large majority of the population. Mei (没) means “without,” and they are without genetically modified bodies, without clean suits, and without money. Jason falls under the meis, as his mother died when he was 13 due to sickness and lack of funds to bring her to the hospital. The setting of Taiwan in the future is not a clear one. The sky is orange at best, tinged with brown usually. Pollution is the leading cause, and what only makes it worse is that the company that makes the suits that allow the yous to have clean air, Jin Corporation, is only fueling the environment’s downfall.
We’re soon introduced to Jason’s band of friends, who are all so unique and quirky in their own ways. They all are talented meis, looking to fight against the unjust system and advocate for clean air and less pollution, making the life expectancy longer than 40 years for the meis and life less desperate. There is the bossy yet brilliant Lingyi, as skilled of a hacker as she is organized as the leader of the group. There is the mysterious Iris, flexible and quiet, but extremely dependable. Arun is the scientist in the group, while Victor is the charming one. Last of all, Jason is the one who is chosen to infiltrate Jin Corporation. He sees himself as the dispensable one, and is willing to do anything to protect his friends and the cause they’re fighting for.
“Me, I’m like the other 95 percent of the meis in this country – without. We want and are left wanting. I’d be lucky if I lived to forty. I’m almost halfway there.”
When the group takes the money they received after holding Daiyu ransom to disguise Jason as a you, he is immediately drawn to Daiyu, even though she does not know it’s him under his disguise. Although she is the daughter to the founder of Jin Corporation, she’s extremely empathetic to the meis and wishes for clear, blue skies. I really loved her character and the fact that even as a sheltered you, she clearly was proactive in taking control to fight what she believes for as well. Even though Jason is on a mission, he can’t help but develop feelings for her. The romance was extremely sweet and a slow burn with a good dose of attraction upon meeting. Featuring rock climbing lessons, clandestine rides in the air, and extravagant galas full of color and posh, the buildup to their relationship was as gorgeous as the end result. Jason ultimately finds himself trapped between the duties of his mission and the feelings for Daiyu, the empathetic girl who has stolen his heart.
“Loving someone was risky. Loving someone left all your weaknesses exposed.”
The action and world-building was just spot-on. Pon writes with clarity and empathy, discussing issues that are extremely relevant in today’s world. One that really sticks out to me, personally, is the huge role pollution and lack of activism for the environment plays. Just the other day, my dad in China told me of a sandstorm in Beijing where everybody either stayed home or went out with masks. Unfortunately, wearing masks is becoming more and more of a norm in the cities of China. And honestly, the first steps to fixing that is watching out with what the factories are producing (just as Jason and his friends work against Jin Corporation). I also loved how Pon expands on the world, making it so vivid and real. The cultural references were among my favorite things: from scallion pancakes to raosong bao to comparisons with the Monkey King and Jay Chou’s music in the background… I honestly could not get enough of it.
Want had just everything I love in my books: active discussion on current issues, endearing and unique characters that just breathe life, a light yet extremely sweet and layered romance, an exhilarating heist and mission that works against the system… what more could a reader want? The fact that it features all these relatable references make it also super close to my heart. I absolutely adored Want and the unforgettable journey it took me on. I highly recommend this one to readers for the most fun – and feelings – you’ll probably experience in a while. My own emotions ranged from heartbreaking to adrenaline-pumped to blushing giggling to bittersweet resignation to extreme anger (for the characters). I have no doubt other readers will enjoy the heck out of this one as well.
They also have an INCREDIBLE interview with Cindy Pon, so check it out for sneak peeks at the sequel and the preorder link + goodies you can get with a signed book, over here!