New Release Review: Lotus

January 2, 2017 Fiction, Literary 13 ★★★★

New Release Review: LotusTitle: Lotus
Author: Lijia Zhang
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

Summary: This was a slow paced book, but the character and relationship development were touching and believable.

“Surviving by her wits alone, Lotus charges headlong into the neon lights of Shenzhen, determined to pull herself out of the gutter and decide her own path.” However, she quickly finds herself working as a “massage girl” or prostitute while lying to her family about the source of the money she sends home. The men who notice her provide her many opportunities for a chance at security, but each also presents their own dangers. As Lotus struggles to make a decision, she finds it difficult to envision a life of her own due to the guilt and insecurity she feels.

Initially, I struggled to get into this story. The writing was beautiful, but sometimes became too flowery, and the plot felt slow. Throughout, I was curious about what would happen, without feeling driven to find out. However, in the second half of the book, I suddenly saw what the author had been building. Lotus was a complex character. Different pieces of her personality were slowly revealed as she told her story. The relationship she shared with a photographer and with her brother also both grew in complexity and changed in believable ways throughout the story. In the end, this story had some of the most believable relationships I’ve read. They were at times beautiful and at times tragic in perfect balance. Sometimes extremes in romance seem too clearly fictional to me and this book didn’t have that problem.

I actually did end up with one complaint though. Comments from both Lotus and the photographer suggested that men are essentially victims of their sex drive. This is a myth that drives me a little crazy. It was a small thing though and not enough to ruin my enjoyment. It also often seemed that the photographer cared about Lotus because she was compliant and powerless. This second point might have troubled me more if it weren’t true that many of the characters enjoyed the control they had when they felt like the more powerful person in a relationship. I think this was actually an interesting and non-gender biased theme that the author explored. Overall, I thought that the author’s portrayal of gender and power was thought-provoking and handled well. Recommended.

13 Responses to “New Release Review: Lotus”

  1. Sarah's Book Shelves

    I remember seeing this in the 2017 catalogs, but I don’t think it’s for me right now. Flowery language bothers me…especially coupled with a slow plot. BUT – thank you for writing a review that enabled me to see if it would work for me…regardless of how it worked for you!

  2. Amal (AMB)

    The author’s portrayal of gender and power sounds interesting. I don’t know if this is the type of book I’d pick up, but its themes interest me. A few years ago, I served on a jury in a case involving massage parlors (the women were not the defendants). It was a world I knew nothing about until then.

    • DoingDewey

      I wasn’t sure about it, but I ended up really enjoying it and it was definitely thought-provoking. Being on a case like that seems like it could be very hard and very depressing, depending on the circumstance.

  3. Heather

    I have this one in my queue from Netgalley and I do plan to read it. I’m glad to hear you liked it even with your minor complaints. I’m sure the gender/power dynamic will be interesting to me too.

  4. Jenny @ Reading the End

    Hahaha, your one complaint sounds like it would irritate me too. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become less and less patient with the thing of men being victims of their sex drive, and the thing of women being, like, uniquely virtuous compared to men. I feel like those are gender myths that often persist even among people who tend to be more liberal in their views of gender roles? And as such I find them particularly maddening. :p

  5. Toady

    Ya, I don’t go for over flowery writing either. I am glad that all worked out pretty nicely, and that the second half payed off. It sounds like a read that I might enjoy. It’s good to be warned about your one complaint before reading it. I tell you, that sort of thing doesn’t set well at all for me. Nope.

    • DoingDewey

      I feel like I was saying this somewhere else just recently, but I really don’t have any patience for this sort of thing any more. I think the election has made me even grumpier about it, for fear views like this are more widespread than I had thought. Ugh. Anyway, I did end up enjoying this a lot, despite this problem.

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