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Girl Giant and the Monkey King

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Eleven-year-old Thom Ngho is keeping a secret: she’s strong. Like suuuuper strong. Freakishly strong. And it’s making it impossible for her to fit in at her new middle school. In a desperate bid to get rid of her super strength, Thom makes a deal with the Monkey King, a powerful deity and legendary trickster she accidentally released from his 500-year prison sentence. Thom Eleven-year-old Thom Ngho is keeping a secret: she’s strong. Like suuuuper strong. Freakishly strong. And it’s making it impossible for her to fit in at her new middle school. In a desperate bid to get rid of her super strength, Thom makes a deal with the Monkey King, a powerful deity and legendary trickster she accidentally released from his 500-year prison sentence. Thom agrees to help the Monkey King get back his magical staff if he'll take away her strength. Soon Thom is swept up in an ancient and fantastical world in where demons, dragons, and Jade princesses actually exist. But she quickly discovers that magic can’t cure everything, and dealing with the trickster god might be more trouble than it’s worth.


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Eleven-year-old Thom Ngho is keeping a secret: she’s strong. Like suuuuper strong. Freakishly strong. And it’s making it impossible for her to fit in at her new middle school. In a desperate bid to get rid of her super strength, Thom makes a deal with the Monkey King, a powerful deity and legendary trickster she accidentally released from his 500-year prison sentence. Thom Eleven-year-old Thom Ngho is keeping a secret: she’s strong. Like suuuuper strong. Freakishly strong. And it’s making it impossible for her to fit in at her new middle school. In a desperate bid to get rid of her super strength, Thom makes a deal with the Monkey King, a powerful deity and legendary trickster she accidentally released from his 500-year prison sentence. Thom agrees to help the Monkey King get back his magical staff if he'll take away her strength. Soon Thom is swept up in an ancient and fantastical world in where demons, dragons, and Jade princesses actually exist. But she quickly discovers that magic can’t cure everything, and dealing with the trickster god might be more trouble than it’s worth.

30 review for Girl Giant and the Monkey King

  1. 4 out of 5

    CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨

    Friends, this was wonderful and so... wow, just, what a journey. If you love the sound of a book that has Sun Wukong (Monkey King) led by a spunky and relatable Vietnamese-American teen packed with Vietnamese mythology, then you'll adore this. - Follows Thom, a Vietnamese-American 11-year old who has a secret: she's really strong - like, really strong. When she makes a deal with the mischievous Monkey King to get rid of her strength, Thom gets swept in a world of celestials and gods and legends - Friends, this was wonderful and so... wow, just, what a journey. If you love the sound of a book that has Sun Wukong (Monkey King) led by a spunky and relatable Vietnamese-American teen packed with Vietnamese mythology, then you'll adore this. - Follows Thom, a Vietnamese-American 11-year old who has a secret: she's really strong - like, really strong. When she makes a deal with the mischievous Monkey King to get rid of her strength, Thom gets swept in a world of celestials and gods and legends - but will giving up her strength be worth it? - This is a book that takes its time, but I really enjoyed the pacing. We get a holistic image of Thom's life - her relationship with her loving but overbearing mother, her life at school and not fitting in, her new friendship with a mysterious neighbour, and also her journey to get rid of her powers. I felt like everything was nicely developed and I enjoyed that. - The story explores and grapples with being a diaspora Asian kid in a place where there are no Asians; how alienating and lonely it can feel, and how that alienation can turn into ugliness and rejection towards their heritage. - The fantastical elements in this book were awesome! It was so much fun to see Hoang's take on Heaven. - I'm looking forward to the sequel! The ending sets up great stakes for the next book without compromising depth and satisfaction of this book. - You can tell that this story is personal to the author - and I really liked that. Content warning: mild fantasy violence, bullying

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rachelle

    I love this story so much. Van has created an incredibly fun, adventurous, and heartfelt book. I cannot wait for the rest of the world to meet Thom and the trickster Monkey King!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Van Hoang

    I have worked so hard on this story of my heart, but so many people helped me get here and poured just as many hours into this book. My editor Mekisha Telfer shaped this story into something beautiful and brought these characters to life. My agent Mary C. Moore fanned the flames and helped me create something out of nothing. Aurora Parlagreco designed the beautiful cover, with illustrations by Phung Nguyen Quang and Huynh Kim Lien. So many others on the team at Roaring Brook Press and Macmillan I have worked so hard on this story of my heart, but so many people helped me get here and poured just as many hours into this book. My editor Mekisha Telfer shaped this story into something beautiful and brought these characters to life. My agent Mary C. Moore fanned the flames and helped me create something out of nothing. Aurora Parlagreco designed the beautiful cover, with illustrations by Phung Nguyen Quang and Huynh Kim Lien. So many others on the team at Roaring Brook Press and Macmillan contributed so much to make this book possible: Taylor Pitts, Allyson Floridia, Celeste Cass, Connie Hsu, Jennifer Besser, Mary Van Akin, Cynthia Lliguichuzhca, Melissa Croce, Kathryn Little, Olivia Oleck, and Caitlin Crocker. And of course all my readers, it wouldn't exist without you. Thank you thank you thank you 💛🧡❤️

  4. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Klassen

    3.5 rounded up Girl Giant and the Monkey King follows the story of Thom Ngho, a strong and badass Vietnamese American girl, and the mischievous Sun Wukong, or the Monkey King. I loved that the author chose to endow a girl with super-heroic strength, a trait almost exclusively given to men characters. She felt powerful and full of agency even when she has moments of indecision and makes mistakes. This gave some of Sun Wukong's background and storyline without turning the book into a complete retel 3.5 rounded up Girl Giant and the Monkey King follows the story of Thom Ngho, a strong and badass Vietnamese American girl, and the mischievous Sun Wukong, or the Monkey King. I loved that the author chose to endow a girl with super-heroic strength, a trait almost exclusively given to men characters. She felt powerful and full of agency even when she has moments of indecision and makes mistakes. This gave some of Sun Wukong's background and storyline without turning the book into a complete retelling of his life and mythology. It also includes dragons, heavenly schools, and Boy Giant. So, if you're looking for a primer before diving further into Chinese and other countries' mythologies and folklore, this would be a good place to start most likely. That was my favourite part of this book, learning about the different figures and their personalities. I also really liked the complexity in the relationship between Thom and her mother. It's not an easy relationship but the difficulties are softened with love and care. The story dragged on a bit too long in between the exciting bits and I'm not entirely sure if I'll read the sequel. This book leaves off on a gigantic cliff hanger which I tend to not enjoy as it lacks closure and satisfaction upon completion. This trick will probably work better on kids and when the rest of the books are available to read right after that big, exciting ending! Definitely for fans of Percy Jackson and Aru Shah. Content warnings for: racism, bullying, feelings of shame in cultural heritage, parent/child separation, scenes of violence (mostly comical).

  5. 5 out of 5

    USOM

    (Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) Middle grade books with mythology are probably my favorite middle grades. Ever since Rick Riordan's imprint, I've become obsessed with books that make mythology and diverse cultures more accessible for younger readers. While Girl Giant and the Monkey King might skew a bit younger than some of the other Riordan stories, it shares the discussion about culture. Set in a contemporary set (Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) Middle grade books with mythology are probably my favorite middle grades. Ever since Rick Riordan's imprint, I've become obsessed with books that make mythology and diverse cultures more accessible for younger readers. While Girl Giant and the Monkey King might skew a bit younger than some of the other Riordan stories, it shares the discussion about culture. Set in a contemporary setting, Thom struggles to accept her powers and identity. This struggle became emotional to me as she does not want to embrace her Vietnamese roots (for culture day and lunch boxes). How her differences mark her apart from her peers in her new school and how, despite her ethnicity, she doesn't seem to be able to just fit in. For me, middle school was about trying to fit in, figuring out who we are in the midst of our peers, and how it feels to know you're the Outsider. full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Pam

    I received an electronic ARC from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group through NetGalley. An excellent entry in the current world mythologies books. Van Hoang focuses on Vietnamese gods and introduces readers to the various immortals in this culture. Thom doesn't understand why she's so strong and tries to hide it. Not easy to do when one soccer kick not only scores the goal but breaks the back of the net and continues on; she also injures the goalie when it hits her too. Her mom and she have mo I received an electronic ARC from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group through NetGalley. An excellent entry in the current world mythologies books. Van Hoang focuses on Vietnamese gods and introduces readers to the various immortals in this culture. Thom doesn't understand why she's so strong and tries to hide it. Not easy to do when one soccer kick not only scores the goal but breaks the back of the net and continues on; she also injures the goalie when it hits her too. Her mom and she have moved to the other side of the country - California, to keep her safe. Accidentally releasing the Monkey King launches adventures beyond the human world and the ending is open so book #2 can pick up the quest. Readers will relate to the swirl of emotions and choices Thom makes as she figures out who to trust. She makes several mistakes along the way just like any other young teenager. She also learns and attempts to solve the situations she created. The character interactions allow readers to feel like they are standing beside them and experiencing the adventures too. Looking forward to the next book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    April

    Girl Giant and the Monkey King is a creative and engaging take on the meet-the-gods genre. Thom is not only battling the popular bullies on her soccer team, she also has to hide her growing super strength. When she accidentally frees a demon demigod, she might finally get the chance to remove her curse, or find out it's not a curse after all. This story is full of well-realized characters and mythology that will be new to many readers. Also there's Kha, who I would have immediately fallen in *sq Girl Giant and the Monkey King is a creative and engaging take on the meet-the-gods genre. Thom is not only battling the popular bullies on her soccer team, she also has to hide her growing super strength. When she accidentally frees a demon demigod, she might finally get the chance to remove her curse, or find out it's not a curse after all. This story is full of well-realized characters and mythology that will be new to many readers. Also there's Kha, who I would have immediately fallen in *squee* love with as a tween. The last third of the book is non-stop. I cannot wait to read the sequel. I would recommend it to any kid who feels like they don't belong. Also, it's super satisfying to read something by someone you know and discover it's pretty great. :)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jaime Andrews

    Sooooo stinkin' cute!!! Fun mythological adventure and coming of age story about a tiny 11 yr old girl named Thom, her mama and the mischievous 🐒👑 MONKEY KING Yup, that Monkey King. I remember hearing about him, or maybe readin' about him as a kid and I always kinda saw him as the Buddhist equivalent of Loki. This book showed me how right I was. He is a mischievous trickster, manipulative and childlike and wouldn't ya know it, he shows up right when little Thom really needs a friend. Convenient, Sooooo stinkin' cute!!! Fun mythological adventure and coming of age story about a tiny 11 yr old girl named Thom, her mama and the mischievous 🐒👑 MONKEY KING Yup, that Monkey King. I remember hearing about him, or maybe readin' about him as a kid and I always kinda saw him as the Buddhist equivalent of Loki. This book showed me how right I was. He is a mischievous trickster, manipulative and childlike and wouldn't ya know it, he shows up right when little Thom really needs a friend. Convenient, little fuzzy demon god! 🙊🐵🙉 I really liked this book. I listened to it and the voices, accents, effects were so sweet and interesting. About halfway thru i got really tired of Thom's repetitive inner dialog, though and kinda wanted to shake some sense into her but by the end, even that couldn't ruin the story. It moves quickly. The adventure is exciting and well described and Thom shows real growth. The character behaves in a way that makes her a good role model for kids struggling to fit in or believe in themselves. I enjoyed this and even though it's obviously a middle grade book, I really want there to be another one and I'll read it. I intend to get this one for my kids. They love Percy Jackson so much I know they're gonna love this one too. All in all, 4 stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    *Thanks to NetGalley for an eARC of this title.* Thom Ngho is 11, and everything is changing. Her mother just moved her from California - where she was a star soccer player, had an awesome best friend, and you could get bubble tea on every corner - to upstate New York, where she knows nobody. She joined the soccer team in an effort to make friends, but lately she's having a harder and harder time controlling her super strength. It's not a cool superpower, like being able to lift up a semi-truck ( *Thanks to NetGalley for an eARC of this title.* Thom Ngho is 11, and everything is changing. Her mother just moved her from California - where she was a star soccer player, had an awesome best friend, and you could get bubble tea on every corner - to upstate New York, where she knows nobody. She joined the soccer team in an effort to make friends, but lately she's having a harder and harder time controlling her super strength. It's not a cool superpower, like being able to lift up a semi-truck (though she can totally do that), but it's more, kicking a soccer ball so hard the goalie goes backward through the net with broken ribs, and knocking down a lamppost by leaning on it. IT STINKS. Then, she accidentally unleashes the Monkey King - it really was an accident! - and makes a deal with him to help her get rid of her powers. She knows he's a trickster god... but he's been so nice! It's not like she can trust anyone else, can she? Reader's Notes: A well-written demigod story, though Thom really isn't super likeable at the beginning. *Thanks to NetGalley for an eARC of this title.* Thom Ngho is 11, and everything is changing. Her mother just moved her from California - where she was a star soccer player, had an awesome best friend, and you could get bubble tea on every corner - to upstate New York, where she knows nobody. She joined the soccer team in an effort to make friends, but lately she's having a harder and harder time controlling her super strength. It's not a cool superpower, like being able to lift up a semi-truck (though she can totally do that), but it's more, kicking a soccer ball so hard the goalie goes backward through the net with broken ribs, and knocking down a lamppost by leaning on it. IT STINKS. Then, she accidentally unleashes the Monkey King - it really was an accident! - and makes a deal with him to help her get rid of her powers. She knows he's a trickster god... but he's been so nice! It's not like she can trust anyone else, can she? Reader's Notes: A well-written demigod story, though Thom really isn't super likeable at the beginning. It isn't this book's fault that I recently finished another super-strong-girl-meets-the-Monkey-King novel.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ele

    I was worried I would spend this book comparing it to the original Monkey: The Journey to the West, but thankfully that was not the case. You don't need prior knowledge of the orginal - it takes place during the very beginning of it. Hoang gives all the information you'll need within this book and there is no info-dumping. Unlike many other fantasy novels, including those for children, there are no scenes of intense violence and no bloodshed of any sort is on the pages. I feel the illustrations I was worried I would spend this book comparing it to the original Monkey: The Journey to the West, but thankfully that was not the case. You don't need prior knowledge of the orginal - it takes place during the very beginning of it. Hoang gives all the information you'll need within this book and there is no info-dumping. Unlike many other fantasy novels, including those for children, there are no scenes of intense violence and no bloodshed of any sort is on the pages. I feel the illustrations could've been better, but they were still OK. This novel is a rare case where boy and girl are friends with no romantic connections and a story of appreciating your culture in the faith of ridicule. I also think it would be a good stepping-stone to get some boys more accepting to reading books about girls (it's a sad thought that many boys would refuse to read 'girl's books' no matter how 'girly' the subject matter).

  11. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Really good!! This book was refreshingly original and and yet incredibly grounded. Van Hoang's characters were so well developed and compelling, her the world was immersive, and the dangers and struggles her main character went through put me on the edge of my seat. Wonderful middle grade fantasy read! Really good!! This book was refreshingly original and and yet incredibly grounded. Van Hoang's characters were so well developed and compelling, her the world was immersive, and the dangers and struggles her main character went through put me on the edge of my seat. Wonderful middle grade fantasy read!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    I simply adored Thom and the troublemaking (yet lovable) Monkey King. The story swept me away from the first pages, and I can't wait for Book Two! (The cover is so gorgeous!) I simply adored Thom and the troublemaking (yet lovable) Monkey King. The story swept me away from the first pages, and I can't wait for Book Two! (The cover is so gorgeous!)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michele Knott

    A Vietnamese mythology story, hand this one to your Rick Riordan readers. A fun, quick paced story that looks to be the first in a series.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Beth Mendelsohn

    I received this e-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thom Ngho, age 11, is unhappy. She has just moved with her mother from California to Georgia, leaving her friends behind. She is having a hard time fitting in and getting bullied by two girls on her soccer team. On top of all that, Thom is super strong, like-rip-doors-off-hinges-accidentally strong. During a soccer game, she kicked the ball into the goalie and broke her ribs. Soon she meets Sun Wukong, I received this e-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thom Ngho, age 11, is unhappy. She has just moved with her mother from California to Georgia, leaving her friends behind. She is having a hard time fitting in and getting bullied by two girls on her soccer team. On top of all that, Thom is super strong, like-rip-doors-off-hinges-accidentally strong. During a soccer game, she kicked the ball into the goalie and broke her ribs. Soon she meets Sun Wukong, the mischievous Monkey King demon-god. He convinces Thom that he can help her control her power. However, Thom really just wants her super strength gone. She makes a deal with the Monkey King to get back his cudgel in exchange for making her normal again. But can the powerful trickster god be trusted? I didn’t like this book as much as I thought I would. Thom’s bullies seemed especially cruel. Thom comes across as immature, but she is only eleven. This book introduces many to the Vietnamese gods, many of whom are seen in Chinese fantasy books as well. That being said, I would still recommend this book for readers in grades 3 and up. #GirlGiantAndTheMonkeyKing #NetGalley

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jim Dean

    Really fun adventure with an excellent pair of title characters, whose relationship is an intriguing one - can Thom trust the legendary Monkey King? Loved the world-building here and the focus on Vietnamese mythology, while I also really enjoyed the relationship between Thom and her wonderfully protective mother. The ending has me super-intrigued and desperate to know what happens next; I'm certainly excited for book 2! Really fun adventure with an excellent pair of title characters, whose relationship is an intriguing one - can Thom trust the legendary Monkey King? Loved the world-building here and the focus on Vietnamese mythology, while I also really enjoyed the relationship between Thom and her wonderfully protective mother. The ending has me super-intrigued and desperate to know what happens next; I'm certainly excited for book 2!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tarryn

    Thank you Edelweiss for providing me with an ARC of this stellar middle grade novel. Van Hoang is coming out of the gate strong with her debut novel. It was a delight to get to go on this journey. It was a wonderful mix of Vietnamese mythologies with very realistic portrayals of youthful struggles. Thom may be super strong and have a burgeoning friendship with the mythical Monkey King but she’s also struggling with her own sense of self, fears of not fitting in, of feeling alone and abandoned - Thank you Edelweiss for providing me with an ARC of this stellar middle grade novel. Van Hoang is coming out of the gate strong with her debut novel. It was a delight to get to go on this journey. It was a wonderful mix of Vietnamese mythologies with very realistic portrayals of youthful struggles. Thom may be super strong and have a burgeoning friendship with the mythical Monkey King but she’s also struggling with her own sense of self, fears of not fitting in, of feeling alone and abandoned - Thom’s voice is very strong and you FEEL for her. It also helps that the story is beautifully told, specifically the final third of the book. I do feel as though at least the first half of the book felt a little aimless - there was only some semblance of structure but it was difficult to tell what the larger plot would *truly* be until at least 60% of the way through. This isn’t to say that the first 60% of the book wasn’t good - it absolutely was good, very good! But it did feel like it took quite a while for the book to really gain plot direction. But when it took off, it really took off and now here I am, around 3 months before this book is actually even released to everyone and I’m already wondering how on earth I’ll manage until I can get my hands on book 2!! Also, Thom’s mom is 1000% the best character. She’s incredible, I love her, I would die for her. Here are a few quotes (may differ from the final print of the book) that really just solidify why she’s incredible: “Why you upset? Who hit at you at school? Tell me. I sue them. I sue their parents. I sue everyone.” “Good,” Ma said. “They bully you, you punch them once and they never bully you again.” ‘But once Ma set her mind on something, she saw it through, like the time she sued their old temple for teaching antifeminist ideas.’ Girl Giant and the Monkey King comes out December 1st, 2020 and I would absolutely recommend checking it out, whether you’re Thom’s age, my age or literally any age, I think this story has something for everyone.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Linda Klein

    This review is based on an uncorrected advance reader's edition. A real winner! A Vietnamese girl struggles to hide her burgeoning superpower. Add into the mix the trickster of legend, the Monkey King, who claims to be her friend and will help her with her power. He is a trickster, but Thom starts to trust him and agrees to do him a favor. But an unwelcome dragon tries to thwart the plan. Such good detail, wonderful world building, all wrapped up in a real story of a girl's struggle with fitting This review is based on an uncorrected advance reader's edition. A real winner! A Vietnamese girl struggles to hide her burgeoning superpower. Add into the mix the trickster of legend, the Monkey King, who claims to be her friend and will help her with her power. He is a trickster, but Thom starts to trust him and agrees to do him a favor. But an unwelcome dragon tries to thwart the plan. Such good detail, wonderful world building, all wrapped up in a real story of a girl's struggle with fitting in, making new friends, and being "normal". If you like Riordan's mythological world, you need to read this book, because it's much better than those books! Looking forward to the next in the series.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kylie Lee Baker

    This is such a charming and heartfelt story! I'm a slow reader but I devoured this in 2 days. Thom is such a sweet and captivating character that I didn't want to stop reading. I love the concept of the Monkey King as a character and it was executed in such an interesting way, really bringing to life a myth that I grew up with. Overall a really fun read that I plan on giving to the kids in my family when it comes out. This is such a charming and heartfelt story! I'm a slow reader but I devoured this in 2 days. Thom is such a sweet and captivating character that I didn't want to stop reading. I love the concept of the Monkey King as a character and it was executed in such an interesting way, really bringing to life a myth that I grew up with. Overall a really fun read that I plan on giving to the kids in my family when it comes out.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ami Schroder

    Great new adventure tale! Hand this to fans of Percy Jackson. Warning - this is book 1 so you’re going to have to wait for book 2!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I received an ARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thom Ngho isn't like other girls. She's strong. Like, super strong. Freaky strong. Like tear-the-handle-off-a-car-door strong. Like break-a-window-closing-it strong. Like send-people-to-the-hospital-with-a-kick-of-a-soccer-ball strong. Needless to say, this is not helping her make friends in her new middle school in Georgia--far, far away from California and the Vietnamese community she grew up in. It doesn't help th I received an ARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thom Ngho isn't like other girls. She's strong. Like, super strong. Freaky strong. Like tear-the-handle-off-a-car-door strong. Like break-a-window-closing-it strong. Like send-people-to-the-hospital-with-a-kick-of-a-soccer-ball strong. Needless to say, this is not helping her make friends in her new middle school in Georgia--far, far away from California and the Vietnamese community she grew up in. It doesn't help that her mom has been really cagey about why they moved so suddenly; sure, Ma says that she got a great paying job and found an excellent school for Thom, but how good can it be when Thom sticks out like a sore thumb as one of the only two Asian girls in school and is barely allowed off the bench at soccer games? After a visit to the temple, Thom gets an unexpected visitor: the Monkey King himself! He is sympathetic to her troubles and befriends her, taking her on adventures to his mountain home and helping her learn to use her strength. But when the Monkey King offers to take away her strength for good, Thom leaps at the opportunity. Even though it means taking huge risks. Even though it means breaking into Heaven. Even though it means stealing from the gods. Even though it could mean she loses her life.... I found this debut middle grade novel fun and fascinating. While I am somewhat familiar with the Monkey King legends in Chinese mythology through various retellings and stories, I have never seen the Monkey King through the Vietnamese lens--providing more depth and understanding to one of the most famous (and infamous) names in Asian-based mythology. Thom is also a fascinating character, because she doesn't set out to be a hero or even recruited to be a hero like other kids in mythology retellings like this; she just wants to be a normal girl with a normal life. But it also makes her decision to be a hero all the better. She makes mistakes; she allows herself to fall into pit-traps of adolescence. Thom is growing up, and growing up is tough enough without having super-strength. But she works hard, tries her best, and always tries to do the right thing. The question is, what is the right thing to do? "Girl Giant and the Monkey King" is a magical series-starter, one that is perfect for fans of "Aru Shah", "Percy Jackson", "The Dragon Warrior", and more!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    Girl Giant and the Monkey King is a middle-grade mythology standalone book written by Van Hoang. Desperate to get rid of her abnormal strength and live a normal life, Thom Ngho turns to the trickster Monkey King for help. This book serves as an entry (A book about your heritage or culture) in the Toronto Public Library Reading Challenge 2021. This entry was rather difficult for me, because I didn’t want to read a cultural text about my culture, but a story that featured my culture (Chinese/Vietna Girl Giant and the Monkey King is a middle-grade mythology standalone book written by Van Hoang. Desperate to get rid of her abnormal strength and live a normal life, Thom Ngho turns to the trickster Monkey King for help. This book serves as an entry (A book about your heritage or culture) in the Toronto Public Library Reading Challenge 2021. This entry was rather difficult for me, because I didn’t want to read a cultural text about my culture, but a story that featured my culture (Chinese/Vietnamese). A mate recommended me this book and I was glad that they did. Ever since moving from California to Georgia with her mother, 11-year-old Thom Ngho has felt out of place. She's painfully aware of her Vietnamese ethnicity at her nearly all-white school, and she’s also hiding barely controlled superhuman strength. When she accidentally frees the legendary Monkey King from his prison, the trickster god takes Thom into his confidence, encouraging her to embrace her power through training. Instead, Thom makes a deal: she'll help the Monkey King retrieve his magical cudgel if he’ll take her strength in return. The task requires her to sneak into the heavens without getting stuck there for eternity, and to face off against a host of celestial beings, including a dragon who claims the Monkey King is up to no good. Girl Giant and the Monkey King is written extremely well – it is far from perfect, but the narrative covers all the tiny imperfections. Hoang captures the confusion and frustration of a girl caught between multiple worlds and being uncomfortable with her own identity. As Thom copes with bullies at school and an overbearing mother at home, she tries to distance herself from her family's cultural identity until it becomes impossible to ignore. This entertaining blend of the mundane and fantastical is packed with emotion. All in all, Girl Giant and the Monkey King is written rather well and is at its core, a tale of magic and family strongly grounded in contemporary reality.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Emmy

    *deep breath* Okay. So...I have so many thoughts about this one. Let's take this in steps. For pretty much the entire book, I was totally hooked. I could NOT put this one down! It was so good! I loved the story, how it worked with Eastern mythology (and Wukong is just a really cool character!) and I like how the author managed to balance that with the struggles Thom deals with her "everyday" issues, such as moving to a new town, being one of the only Asian kids at her new school, being raised by *deep breath* Okay. So...I have so many thoughts about this one. Let's take this in steps. For pretty much the entire book, I was totally hooked. I could NOT put this one down! It was so good! I loved the story, how it worked with Eastern mythology (and Wukong is just a really cool character!) and I like how the author managed to balance that with the struggles Thom deals with her "everyday" issues, such as moving to a new town, being one of the only Asian kids at her new school, being raised by a single mother, etc. Honestly, the perfect blend of "special" and "normal" circumstances reminded me a little of Merci Suárez Changes Gears, but with a supernatural twist. When You Trap a Tiger did something similar, but not nearly as well as Girl Giant. Anyway, I was totally hooked. Loved the characters, loved that it was really impossible to tell who to believe in or where your alliances should lean, and then... (view spoiler)[We hit the worst cliffhanger ending ever. And I honestly had to check to see if my book was missing a chapter or something. It was so abrupt. I had the ebook on my phone, looked it up....Nope. That's just where the story ends. Thirty-one chapters, cliffhanger ending; Ma is a cricket, Thom still has her powers, and all the gods of heaven are after her to send her to hell for her transgressions...and the Monkey King betrayed her. And we end with her going to find him, but nothing concrete. I was actually pretty upset. Like, really angry, because I thought that this was supposed to be a standalone. Like, it's 10 at night and I'm shaking my fist in impotent rage over this book. (hide spoiler)] But, I really, really enjoyed it. So, I'm going to to wait. Patiently. Until the next one.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Karen Cohn

    I enjoyed this book so much that I read it in a single sitting. Thom (pronounced Tom) is an American-born girl with a Vietnamese single mother; she has never met her father. At the beginning of the book, Thom, who is in the 7th grade, is playing soccer for her school team, and kicks a ball so hard she injures the goalie on the opposing team. Thom's strength has been increasing to superhuman levels for years, but while she has accidentally broken things for years, she has never seriously injured I enjoyed this book so much that I read it in a single sitting. Thom (pronounced Tom) is an American-born girl with a Vietnamese single mother; she has never met her father. At the beginning of the book, Thom, who is in the 7th grade, is playing soccer for her school team, and kicks a ball so hard she injures the goalie on the opposing team. Thom's strength has been increasing to superhuman levels for years, but while she has accidentally broken things for years, she has never seriously injured another person before. The rest of her team - which has not really accepted her since she moved to the school 2 months earlier - doesn't know what to think, and that includes the coach; how many small, slightly-built girls can kick a soccer ball so hard that the recipient is hospitalized with multiple broken ribs? Thom's mother, concerned that Thom is not making friends, takes Thom to a local Vietnamese temple, where Thom finds a single hair hidden in a display. When she takes it home, it morphs into the Monkey King, a trickster demon-god from Vietnamese mythology. What follows is a grand quest, worthy of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson, as Thom tries to decide if the Monkey God is her friend or her foe, as well as if her new neighbor, Kha, is a friend or foe, as both try to help her (or so they both say) while trying to convince her that the other is trying to use her. Along the way, Thom tries to discover a way to get rid of her superhuman strength, both from fear that she will hurt someone else and to help her fit in more. Thom also directly experiences more of the Vietnamese gods she has heard about all her life, including her missing father. This was an enjoyable and fun read, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys stories with strong female leads, as well as anyone who enjoys mythology.

  24. 5 out of 5

    The Bronze of Immortality

    This was a wonderful book by Van Hoang, and I can't believe it was her debut! I just finished Girl Giant and the Monkey King, and here are my takeaways 🐵 - this is the third book I've read recently with the Monkey King (The Fallen Hero and The Epic Crush of Genie Lo) and honestly I'm very impressed with how it differentiated itself from them with regards to the character of the Monkey King. I felt like I could really feel his chaotic character through the page, and his interactions with Thom were This was a wonderful book by Van Hoang, and I can't believe it was her debut! I just finished Girl Giant and the Monkey King, and here are my takeaways 🐵 - this is the third book I've read recently with the Monkey King (The Fallen Hero and The Epic Crush of Genie Lo) and honestly I'm very impressed with how it differentiated itself from them with regards to the character of the Monkey King. I felt like I could really feel his chaotic character through the page, and his interactions with Thom were so cute! - despite being ~590 pages (at least on the online version I read) this was a remarkably easy read and I soared right through it - the subplot with Kathy was was wonderful! I loved how it explored more subtle forms of racism and toxic relationships, and her character development was lovely - THE ART. It was legitimately so good, and ahhhhh I can't really talk about it because it's just art but it was SO PRETTY. SUCH PRETTINESS. The artists should be PROUD. - Thom's relationship with her mom <3 I really loved how it was depicted throughout the story, and how it showed her mother being imperfect and having good and bad elements (although overall she was AWESOME) and idk it was just nice to read about! Fun relationship! - Thom herself... she's such a fun character! I loved her growth, and idk, she was fun and I rooted for her the whole way through, even when I knew she was making bad choices lol - I hope we get to see more of Jae in the sequel! Loved how she and Kha argued haha

  25. 5 out of 5

    Katie Cat Books

    Middle grade. Fantasy. Monkey King. Story: Thom is your usual soccer playing girl. She's really good at it too but the coach normally keeps her on the bench most of the game. The trouble is, when Thom kicks the ball, she kicks it too much. So much so that people get hurt and have to go to the hospital. See, Thom is strong. And she can't help it. And she doesnt want anyone to know her secret. Language: Third person, Georgia, USA, near present. Vietnamese folklore and mythology and Buddhist religion Middle grade. Fantasy. Monkey King. Story: Thom is your usual soccer playing girl. She's really good at it too but the coach normally keeps her on the bench most of the game. The trouble is, when Thom kicks the ball, she kicks it too much. So much so that people get hurt and have to go to the hospital. See, Thom is strong. And she can't help it. And she doesnt want anyone to know her secret. Language: Third person, Georgia, USA, near present. Vietnamese folklore and mythology and Buddhist religion. Characters: Thom has a superpower of being strong, but she doesn't want it. She breaks things accidentally all the time. She's also embarrassed by her Vietnamese culture and mom, especially when it means she doesn't fit in with other girls at school. A dash of Rick Riordan, a bit of Mulan, and a lot of Monkey King, this book is sure to be a hit. If you've never heard of the Monkey King, this is a great place to start. If you have heard of him before, you can appreciate this middle grade version of him. In addition to normal school worries, Thom has to figure out who to trust and who she can consider a friend, even if that person does come from another world. A surprise cliffhanger at the end, sign me up for the follow up.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Erica

    When Thom's super strength first showed up, it was bad enough. She used to love playing soccer but now she can either barely tap the ball or hit it so hard it injures people. Now her mother has moved her across the country and she's struggling to fit in. At her old school there were plenty of Asian-American kids, but at her new school it makes her stand out as she gets bullied for her 'strange' ways. Then she accidentally unleashes the Monkey King and her life is changed forever. She's heard the When Thom's super strength first showed up, it was bad enough. She used to love playing soccer but now she can either barely tap the ball or hit it so hard it injures people. Now her mother has moved her across the country and she's struggling to fit in. At her old school there were plenty of Asian-American kids, but at her new school it makes her stand out as she gets bullied for her 'strange' ways. Then she accidentally unleashes the Monkey King and her life is changed forever. She's heard the stories about how he's a trickster, but he seems nice enough. And he's the only one who seems able to help her with her powers. Soon she discovers all the stories her mother told her are true and she has no idea who she really is or who she can trust. This fantasy story based on Vietnamese mythology drew me in from the first page. Thom is a great character and it's easy to relate to her struggle to fit in and confusion over who to trust. The Monkey King is charismatic, but mischievous. Her new neighbor seems nice but is clearly hiding something. And Thom's mother loves her but refuses to tell her anything about her father. It certainly kept me guessing and resulted in a few surprises. A fun adventure story for all, highly recommended.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Eileen

    What a delightful story set in Vietnamese mythology! I felt for Thom Ngo throughout the book, from her frustrations with losing her friends in CA to being in a school in Georgia where she is the odd duck and one of two Asians in the school, to having to bring "ethnic" food to lunch and being bullied by the popular, aka mean girls for standing out. Not to mention her freakish super strength, which she is trying to keep a secret. As things ramp up, she doesn't know who she can trust and that's whe What a delightful story set in Vietnamese mythology! I felt for Thom Ngo throughout the book, from her frustrations with losing her friends in CA to being in a school in Georgia where she is the odd duck and one of two Asians in the school, to having to bring "ethnic" food to lunch and being bullied by the popular, aka mean girls for standing out. Not to mention her freakish super strength, which she is trying to keep a secret. As things ramp up, she doesn't know who she can trust and that's where she eventually learns not only who she is but who she wants to be. She realizes that there are some things she can't control (like being given super strength), but she CAN control how she uses it. My only sadness about finishing this book is that it leaves you kind of hanging, although some things are resolved (like she at least figures out some of the people she can trust). This was really a great story and I can not wait for the next installment! I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Katie Mac

    I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is a promising #OwnVoices debut novel and a compelling start to a series. The pacing is such that the book held my interest the entire time (though Thom and her Ma were incredibly frustrating and unlikeable at times). I loved learning more about South Vietnamese culture and mythology, and there's enough action to propel the plot forward at an often-breakneck pace. It's always tough to read a galley with a cliffh I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is a promising #OwnVoices debut novel and a compelling start to a series. The pacing is such that the book held my interest the entire time (though Thom and her Ma were incredibly frustrating and unlikeable at times). I loved learning more about South Vietnamese culture and mythology, and there's enough action to propel the plot forward at an often-breakneck pace. It's always tough to read a galley with a cliffhanger, but it made me even more excited to continue the series and recommend it to the library's middle-grade readers who are looking for a multicultural fantasy series.

  29. 5 out of 5

    George P.

    Girl Giant and the Monkey King is a wonderful story about an 11-year-old girl that moves from California to Georgia and finds herself trying to fit in in a mostly white school. Of course, to make things worse Thom is super strong which doesn't help at all, and her decision to make a deal with the Monkey King might just end up making a mess of it all. This middle-grade novel touches on cultural struggles that a lot of minorities deal with growing up, and in many cases as adults too, in an attempt Girl Giant and the Monkey King is a wonderful story about an 11-year-old girl that moves from California to Georgia and finds herself trying to fit in in a mostly white school. Of course, to make things worse Thom is super strong which doesn't help at all, and her decision to make a deal with the Monkey King might just end up making a mess of it all. This middle-grade novel touches on cultural struggles that a lot of minorities deal with growing up, and in many cases as adults too, in an attempt to fit the mold of what society has deemed to be an American while at the same time making the story fun and interesting.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Libby

    I have to admit, I sometimes found Thom, the main character, a bit annoying. She was rather clueless at times, and often got caught up in self-pity, but then again, that is probably an accurate portrayal of a middle school student who has moved across the country, is going to a new school, and has a body that is suddenly not responding like usual. I did like the way Buddhism and Vietnamese folklore are woven into the story. While it's not my favorite in the genre of books that blend contemporary I have to admit, I sometimes found Thom, the main character, a bit annoying. She was rather clueless at times, and often got caught up in self-pity, but then again, that is probably an accurate portrayal of a middle school student who has moved across the country, is going to a new school, and has a body that is suddenly not responding like usual. I did like the way Buddhism and Vietnamese folklore are woven into the story. While it's not my favorite in the genre of books that blend contemporary life with mythological fantasy, I think it will find many fans among those who like the Aru Shah books.

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