All the best pieces of the Kaiju / Jaeger / Drift concepts have been elegantly reworked to suit a modified Ancient China setting. At first glance, a big piece of the setting's establishing circumstances seem chaotic and unexplained, and the impetus of the conflict isn't explained until literally the last chapter, but oh is it an exceptional shift of the working paradigm. The lack of clarity on the conflict is mildly irksome as your read, but it's pretty straightforwardly forgivable as the main character is repeatedly confronted by the ways in which her limited access has bred an oblivious ignorance that is so pervasive, her failure to connect the dots often shocks even her.
The whole misogyny thing is a bit overly-in-your-face, honestly, but, again, with the context of that massive, last-few-chapters reveal that reframes why the whole conflict is happening it gets presented as a plausible and terrifying escalation of the current world's trending misogyny, rather than a depiction of abuses towards females that Society has purportedly grown beyond
Wu Zeitan is utterly ruthless and patently unconcerned by pretty much anything, including modesty, body-counts, collateral-damage (historically, par for the course, given her real-world namesake). It's all framed as a hyperbolic reaction to grief and the fury at having that grief ignored and dismissed. It's a great depiction of how the "edgy, angry" girl isn't just emo and cool, but is straightforwardly suicidal, but in a "if I'm gonna die, I'm taking the whole world with me" kinda way. She is deranged and delusional and while that often gives her the power to leverage herself into a position of relative power, it just as often goes badly for her. She's not simply depicted as the 'break the world to make it better' kind of revolutionary, she's given lines that indicate that she's self-deluding to make herself believe that she's going to be the savior or woman-kind, and make things better, but there are obvious arcs that show how she is truly after personal power. Not to mention that it's shown that simply reversing the system so men are subjugated through the very same pathways of inequality as women used to be is simply replacing misogyny with misandry and it fails to actually fix anything or save anyone.
She has moments of lightness, forgiveness, and acknowledgement of the desire to love/be-loved, and for the most part she finds herself disappointed by any and all avenues she has to explore that concept (and by those people who encourage it).
That said, however, successful marriages, and what I consider to be genuine love, is not comprised of the fairytale, shippy, true-love magic that most YA romances peddle. The way healthy love works is that individuals proactively decide to love each other and continuously chose to make it work. Active discussions, healthy communication of wants and needs, self-reliance despite dyad (or triad, quad, etc) integration (which applies to non-romantic bonds, such and Family and Friend sets and is also known as "we thinking", ie, 'we're going to the beach this summer')... all of that is present in this novel and necessary to a truly viable healthy relationship. And yet, the whole 'we are literally the only people in the entire world who treat each other like humans' thing is NOT a healthy motivation nor is it a convincingly romantic motivation for a love match pairing...
I'm curious to see how it all works out in the sequel, particularly as... well... Spoilers.
Overall, this is a brutal, but gloriously well-depicted world with characters in varied states of mental collapse that reflect genuine psychology in both range and severity. The body-count is high, the brutality is significant, the presence of consent is glaringly absent in a number of circumstances, and the positive influences are non-existent, but there's not explicit sex, no drugs, alcohol abuse depicted as a disease, and the non-con elements are never excused or apologized for. It's not a book for every 13-year-old, but honestly I think it suits a vast majority of them.
Parental discretion IS advised, but I strongly recommend that this novel be seriously considered as a viable option for any teen reader!