Books Like Iron Widow (6 Book Recommendations)

A thrilling story with pulse-pounding action, breathtaking world-building, and complex characters who undergo deep development throughout their journey – Iron Widow is the perfect read for fans of historical sci-fi thrillers or anyone looking to explore exciting new settings filled with intrigue and fantasy.

Books Like Iron Widow

Authored by Xiran Jay Zhao – there’s no doubt that Iron Widow will take you on an incredible adventure when taken up as your next book.

Are you looking for books that are similar to Iron Widow? If so, you’re in luck! This article will provide readers with a list of books that have the same action-packed and suspenseful elements as Iron Widow. Such as The Poet X, The Mountains Sing, and Cemetery Boys.

Themes In Iron Widow

Iron Widow

Dystopian Worlds

The Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao is a young adult science fiction novel that blends Chinese history and science fiction.

It tells the story of boys in the Huaxia community who dream of piloting giant transforming robots called Chrysalises to battle the aliens that lurk near their Great Wall home.

However, they soon discover that only girls are allowed to pair up with them as pilots.

This revelation puts one girl in an especially difficult position: sixteen-year-old Mabel is the most talented pilot in Huaxia, but she’s also caught between the divided loyalty of her family and her own fight for justice against a patriarchal society.

Power Dynamics

Xiran Jay Zhao weaves together themes of identity, privilege, power dynamics, and more into a fast-paced narrative full of action scenes involving giant robots and thrilling battles with strange monsters.

By exploring universal themes while keeping its Chinese roots closely intertwined, The Iron Widow remains true to its cultural identity while appealing to readers everywhere.


The theme of Iron Widow is primarily focused on misogyny – an issue that has plagued society for so long and still remains relevant today.

This theme is clear throughout the book – whether it’s embedded in the culture of Huaxia, within the structure of its military, or even within Zetian’s own familial relationships.

One particularly harrowing scene was when Zetian recalls being bound by her grandmother to increase her market value – making this message all the more poignant.

6 Books Similar To Iron Widow

The Mountains Sing – Que Mai Phan Nguyen

The Mountains Sing

The Mountains Sing is a captivating novel that has been described by readers as thought-provoking, inspiring, and deeply moving.

This unique work of historical fiction is set in 20th-century Vietnam, intertwining the experiences of two generations of resilient women through the decades between the First and Second Indochina Wars.

With compassionate insight and poetic storytelling, Nguyen Phan Que Mai paints an unsentimental but tender portrait of the beauty, suffering, tragedy, and joy that come with surviving great hardship.

This sweeping epic offers a powerful examination of how an ancestral culture endures war’s destruction.

It celebrates the bonds between mother and daughter, grandparents, and grandchildren, making it a fitting modern-day tribute to the people who have lost homes and loved ones through conflict over countless years.


  • A breathtaking storyline with inspiring and very real themes throughout the book.
  • One of those novels that leaves you a little broken at the end, but worth the heartache.
  • Written from a very difficult but well-thought-out perspective.


  • Some themes may be of a sensitive nature to some readers.

Themes: Fiction, Historical, War, Asia.

The Poet X – Elizabeth Acevedo

The Poet X

Elizabeth Acevedo’s book The Poet X is a young adult novel and spoken-word poem which has been nominated for Goodreads Choice Awards 2018 Best Poetry.

It tells the story of Xiomara Batista, a teenage girl in Harlem who feels unheard and struggles to hide among her neighbors.

As she grows into young womanhood, Xiomara starts to use her fists and fierceness instead of words, as confidence in her body changes how she expresses herself.

The Poet X has been lauded by fans of Jacqueline Woodson, Meg Medina, and Jason Reynolds for its raw yet poetic depiction of teenage identity and survival.

Despite her feeling of invisibility when facing societal pressures from school, family, and religion, Xiomara finds ways to express herself through writing with vivid images that bring readers into her inner world.


  • An enticing novel that touches on some difficult subject matters, but in the most eloquently told way.
  • Written well and readers can easily follow along with the structure of the story.
  • It has been praised by many well-known authors for its poetic yet raw depiction of identity.


  • The story may touch on some difficult topics for some readers to engage with.

Themes: Young adult, Poetry, Fiction, Contemporary, Romance.

The Ones We’re Meant To Find – Joan He

The Ones We're Meant to Find

Cee has been stuck on an isolated island, trying to make sense of her past and find her mysterious yet half-forgotten family.

After three years stranded in this faraway place, all she knows is that somewhere in the depths of the bright blue ocean lies a sister named Kay, whom she must find.

Back in the outside world, sixteen-year-old prodigy Kasey Mizuhara dwells in an eco-city designed to preserve natural resources and combat global climate change.

To do their part in preserving the planet, everyone residing in Kasey’s city spends at least a third of their time suspended in stasis pods surrounded by virtual reality – conducting business digitally instead of physically whenever it makes sense to reduce their environmental footprint.


  • Unexpected twists and turns that readers love.
  • A story of survival mixed with sci-fi that works well.


  • The story isn’t for everyone and if you’re not a sci-fi lover, you may struggle to get into it.

Themes: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopian.

Cemetery Boys – Aiden Thomas

Cemetery Boys

Yadriel has a tough challenge ahead of him. Not only does he have to prove his true gender to his traditional Latinx family, but he also finds out that he must go to the extreme measure of calling forth a ghost in order to do so.

With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, Yadriel performs a ritual to summon the spirit of his murdered cousin and free it from limbo.

Instead of his cousin’s spirit, however, Yadriel accidentally calls up Julian Diaz, an intimidating school bad boy who was also murdered.


  • A different take on fantasy themes works well.
  • Great character dynamics throughout the story.
  • A well-written piece of work, and it shows in the reviews.


  • Can be hard to follow at times, but it levels itself out as the chapters go on.

Themes: Young Adult, LGBT, Fantasy, Paranormal.

Last Night At The Telegraph Club – Malinda Lo

Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Malinda Lo’s novel Last Night at the Telegraph Club is a captivating story of love and duty, set in San Francisco’s Chinatown during the Red Scare.

At the heart of this lesbian romance are seventeen-year-old Lily Hu and her love interest, Kathleen Miller.

When Lily asked Kathleen “have you ever heard of such a thing?”, it was a powerful reminder that in the 1950s America being gay was still largely invisible, particularly for women of color.

The two girls didn’t know it when they were slipping through the doors of The Telegraph Club hand in hand, but risking entering a lesbian bar and allowing themselves to admit their true feelings opened up something new and beautiful within them.


  • An inspiring novel that touches on a very difficult time period for the themes.
  • Well written book with enough twists to keep the reader engaged.


  • Some difficult topics are spoken about in this novel.

Themes: Historical Fiction, LGBT, Romance, Young Adult.

A Light In The Sky – Shina Reynolds

A Light in the Sky (Clashing Skies)

The brilliant light of hope has shone upon seventeen-year-old Aluma Banks, who dreams of free and independent flight in the skies from the back of a powerful winged steed.

As the rider hopefuls across Eirelannia prepare to compete in the Autumn Tournament vying for the honor to join the Empyrean Cavalry- a prestigious aerial force tasked with protecting their kingdom’s borders from their fallen rivals, Aluma is confident she has what it takes to prove herself as well.

But while her training and drive should be commended, her loving father insists that she abstain from joining their ranks, out of fear for her safety in the midst of war.


  • Great storyline that has depth as the book progresses.
  • The characters are well-written and engaging.


  • Not all readers find it easy to follow the plot.

Themes: Dystopian, Fiction, Historical, Paranormal.

Final Thoughts

Iron Widow is a great novel for readers who enjoy fantasy and adventure stories.

If you’re looking for more books like Iron Widow, then be sure to check out The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, The Mountains Sing by Que Mai Phan Nguyen and many more!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Has Made Iron Widow Such A Successful Novel?

Jay encourages their followers on different platforms to follow the journey with them as they explore the untouched depths of their characters’ minds, expanding beyond their already impressive collection of works.

Through building more connections between Eastern and Western cultures, Jay allows readers around the world to better understand each other, which bridges gaps between countries despite physical distances.

What Do Readers Need To Know About The Author Of Iron Widow?

Xiran Jay Zhao is an author from a small town in China. Growing up surrounded by the influence of the Internet, Jay has made it a priority to use their platforms to educate and entertain their followers on Chinese history and culture.

With a degree from Simon Fraser University, they moved on to writing science fiction and fantasy while supplementing their passions through cosplays, fashion, and memes.

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Anna Davis