I don’t read a great deal of young adult fantasy, and when I do it’s primarily of the darker variety. So I was actually rather surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It kept my attention from start to finish, and had a number of elements that I quite liked. I don’t know if this makes sense to anybody else, but I would call this a young, young adult book. Meaning, unlike some other recent YA I’ve read, I would recommend it to young teens and even middle-schoolers, in addition to older folks. One of the biggest reasons for this is that the main characters actually felt and acted like teenagers.
Contrary to the common trope of absent parents, Heart and Soul Fist places a lot of emphasis on family and other platonic relationships, despite a good deal of the plot being focused around dating. Jane’s family is Korean-American, so we get to see some glimpses of Korean culture through her interaction with her family and their traditions. And in all of the relationships--romantic and platonic alike--there was a refreshing focus on being open and honest about their feelings. (I hate when characters have harmful misunderstandings for no reason, and was very glad this novel mostly avoided that.)
Another part of this book I enjoyed is the magic system. Though it wasn’t too complex, it did feel unique to me and made for some entertaining fight scenes. Speaking of which, this novel was an easy, action-packed read. But despite the fast pace, the author was able to fit in an interesting mystery as to who the big bad truly was. All of these elements came together well to make a great story.
I'd highly recommend Heart and Soul Fist to anyone looking for a fun, action-packed young adult fantasy.