I haven’t watched Avatar in years now, but I still remember loving the found family, the friendships, and the political drama. Seeing The Rise of Kyoshi, I was SO excited to jump back into the world. As I kept reading, I fell in love with Kyoshi, her struggles, and her sapphic storyline! Keep reading my book review to see all the other things I loved!
F. C. Yee’s The Rise of Kyoshi delves into the story of Kyoshi, the Earth Kingdom–born Avatar. The longest-living Avatar in this beloved world’s history, Kyoshi established the brave and respected Kyoshi Warriors, but also founded the secretive Dai Li, which led to the corruption, decline, and fall of her own nation. The first of two novels based on Kyoshi, The Rise of Kyoshi maps her journey from a girl of humble origins to the merciless pursuer of justice who is still feared and admired centuries after she became the Avatar.
The Rise of Kyoshi has everything I love in a story: a bisexual MC, an underdog, a fierce heroine, and a story of found family. There were so many moments which tore holes in my heart with how emotional they were. The ways in which Kyoshi feels so alone and undeserving, but also is thrust into this mantle of power. The Rise of Kyoshi is a story about Kyoshi training as the Avatar, but it’s also about the nature of power to corrupt, how to be a good leader, and the ethical dilemmas in politics. It’s a rich and complex story with a fabulous cast of characters at the center.
Kyoshi, my precious Kyoshi, is a character who tugs at my heart strings. Growing up on the street has left Kyoshi unseen and felt unloved, so when she suddenly becomes the Avatar, Kyoshi’s whole identity must change. Who can we trust in this myriad of politics, betrayals, and power moves? The Rise of Kyoshi is one of those brilliant ethical and political books grounded in great characters. I loved all the other side characters, who I am excited to see more of in the sequel, and I ADORED the queer romance storyline.
Plus watching Kyoshi’s growth throughout the book was truly a journey. There’s so much development as Kyoshi has to figure out who to trust. She also discovers that not everyone is who she thinks. Power turns us all into monsters if we let it. Our teachers are formative in our life, and how can Kyoshi find the right ones? Seeing Kyoshi grow into herself, expand and take up room, and find love makes my heart burst with emotion.
Some of the events at the end felt tied up quickly and one of the events felt PRETTY anticlimactic. Even reflecting on it, I’m wondering why because I HAVE THOUGHTS. Which is the only thing holding me back from HIGH KEY obsession.
I just finished last night, so my emotions are high! I loved this book so much. I wasn’t sure what to expect, since it’s been so long since I saw Avatar, but I am so in love. I cannot wait for the sequel and if you like Avatar, fierce underdog heroines, queer romances, or found family, just go ahead and get both now.