Customer Reviews for

Wild Orchid: A Retelling of the Ballad of Mulan (Once Upon a Time Series)

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

Reviewed by Jennifer Rummel for TeensReadToo.com

Mulan's mother died during labor. Her father, a great General in the army, was heartbroken. He's never been home since he heard the news. Thus, Mulan lost both her parents on the same day.

Mulan is not your typical girl. Instead, she climbs trees and despises needlew...
Mulan's mother died during labor. Her father, a great General in the army, was heartbroken. He's never been home since he heard the news. Thus, Mulan lost both her parents on the same day.

Mulan is not your typical girl. Instead, she climbs trees and despises needlework. She meets the boy next door and the two of them form a friendship. He teaches her archery, how to ride a horse, how to use a sword, and, finally, how to read and write.

When her father comes home, everything changes. First, she must learn how to trust and obey him. Second, she must learn how to love him and her new stepmother. Just when she's finally found herself a new family, the Huns appear on the horizon of China. The men are called back to war.

Mulan, unwilling to let her father go with a bad leg and a new family, disguises herself and takes his place instead. Her first day there, she catches the ears of one of the king's sons. He engages her in an archery contest. From then on, Mulan is famous throughout the camp.

With the Huns quickly approaching, all three princes have different ideas on how to defend China. Mulan mistakenly speaks out during a strategizing session. Prince Jian immediately seizes her idea. But will it be enough to save China?

This new ONCE UPON A TIME addition weaves together the wonders of ancient China, a budding romance, a feisty girl, and the true meaning of both friendship and family in a fantastic fairy tale edition.

posted by TeensReadToo on April 8, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Wait is it over?

I have mixed feelings about this book. The story is good, I loved Mulan as a kid and I still sometimes watch it as a teenager, but I don't think this book does the story justice. The first half of the book is excellent. Dokey spends a good amount of time creating the...
I have mixed feelings about this book. The story is good, I loved Mulan as a kid and I still sometimes watch it as a teenager, but I don't think this book does the story justice. The first half of the book is excellent. Dokey spends a good amount of time creating the characters and explaining the reasons that motivate the characters. However, for as long as Dokey takes to paint the characters, the climax is inexcusably short. All that happens while Mulan is at war is predictable and boringly cliché. The love story between Mulan and the Prince is grossly underdeveloped and the battle with the Huns (for which the reader has been waiting for about a hundred and fifty pages) takes all of about half a minute to read. And then for some reason the Prince realizes he and Mulan are soul mates, no one complications come of Mulan being discovered or marrying a prince and everybody lives happily ever after the end. Somebody kill me the end was terrible!!! The book was mediocre and had a great deal of wasted potential. If you're looking for a good fairy tale spin read the books I've recommended.

posted by literature_lover45 on July 25, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2013

    good book

    This was a really good book and i got very attracted to it. It was a lot like the original mulan. They spent a ton of the book on mulans childhood. The only thing i dont like is that the final battle was so short and then it was over. But overall great book.

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  • Posted August 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    An Enjoyable Read

    Forget the cheesy cover--in my opinion, this book is as sincere and as touching as any I could hope to own. The story begins wry and reminiscent as Mulan brings us through her childhood, sharing with us her most intimate hopes and dreams. Dokey has created a spunky, likeable character whose quest to find herself is one that many readers will be able to empathize with. There is no moralizing or preaching, only storytelling in its truest and most enjoyable form.

    Yet whereas the pacing in the beginning is slow and gradual and the characters carefully developed, the latter half rushes through to the end without fully integrating new characters into the story. Prince Jian was nice and likeable, but Dokey didn't go much deeper than that. In comparison to Mulan's childhood friend Li Po, Prince Jian remains frustratingly two-dimensional. Nor did Dokey dwell any longer on Mulan's experience in the army than was absolutely necessary. As someone who began this book thinking that Mulan's tale would be predominantly focused on her rise to fame, I was a little disappointed. Dokey glosses over the whole ordeal, downplaying the consequences of Mulan's actions and doing little to develop the events that would make Mulan a legend.

    Still, Dokey's retelling has its own emotional rewards. As the "real" action is limited to a relatively small portion of the book, I was able to really get a sense for Mulan's family and the complex emotions underlying the relationships within. For me, the most satisfying part of the book was watching Mulan reconnect with her estranged father. This is not the book I would have chosen had I wanted adventure or romance; instead, this relatively short read shines as a touching coming-of-age tale of a girl who just wanted to be herself.

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