Want by Cindy Pon

4/5 Stars
Published by Simon Pulse
Published June 13th, 2017

Synopsis: Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?

Want is an absolutely stunning novel. Cindy Pon has crafted a world that is completely unique and unlike anything I have ever read before. This future-esque reimagining of Taiwan, in which the air pollution takes a terrible toll on the people of its city, is creative and hard-hitting, and does not stray far from environmental issues that affect us everyday. This is the first novel I have read by Cindy Pon and I have absolutely no idea why I didn't pick up her books sooner. I have followed Cindy Pon on social media for the longest time and I have watched her be an advocate of and influencer for Asian representation in YA novels. She has changed the game in so many ways and I am forever grateful for her contribution to this community. She has impeccable craftsmanship, rolling out a plot that will keep you not only connected to the story, but subliminally relating the context back to relevant issues in real lifeWant is everything I needed in a novel at the time, becoming a book that I will push onto my friends and family for years to come. It is culturally immersive, includes a myriad of diverse characters, and applicable to situations that are happening around the world, which is what makes it such a universal read.
This has one of my favorite cast of characters ever. Individually, they are all powerhouses and bring forward an amazing collection of diverse backgrounds, experiences, and stories (Taiwanese, Chinese, Indian, and Filipino rep!!). These characters are all complex, each with their own set of personal problems that leave them far from transparent. Jason Zhou is not your stereotypical main character. He is not driven by glory, power, or money - rather, he simply just wants to save his city, his friends, and his people. Zhou and the crew wants to see an end to this corrupt technological empire that has ravished their home, and will seek by all means a way to take it down. Iris, Lingyi, Arun, and Victor are all admirable characters whom I will cherish for the rest of eternity. Lingyi is a hacker - a damn good one - and is the mastermind behind this whole thing. Iris is literally a warrior of the night and shadows; you would never see her coming. These two make my heart swell with love and flood with happiness, but I also know that they are both completely capable of kicking my ass. Arun is my favorite little scientist, while Victor is socially skilled enjoys his luxuries. The crew's dynamic is incredible, bringing a force upon Taipei that the city was not ready for. Along with them, Daiyu is a strong and fierce woman who impressed me right off the bat. I am here for powerful and passionate characters, which is exactly what Cindy Pon introduces to us. 

I truly appreciate the plot of this story and its hidden messages. Everything about Want is completely relevant and a topic of discussion that we should not shy away from. It deals with environmental concerns, economic instability, and zealous, money-hungry leaders. This book will spur conversation, turn heads, and introduce people to topics that are sometimes overlooked. Besides its importance in both social issues and representation, Want is also just a really good book. The plot is thrilling, throwing you into stressful situations that involve rock climbing, flying motorbikes, and lots of tip-toey sneaking around. This is perfect for anybody that just wants to see a group of Asian characters be a free spirited, dangerous band of misfits. I don't think I have ever related to a group of characters more than I do these ones. I see parts of myself in Lingyi and Daiyu, in the cultural narrative of the story, and even more so in the overall moral of the book. This is a story that teaches us to acknowledge and fight issues, and to persevere through even the darkest of moments. I have no doubt in my mind that Ruse (Want #2) will continue to teach us lessons and inspire audiences.