Showing posts with label the wrath and the dawn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the wrath and the dawn. Show all posts

Saturday, October 15, 2016

[Review] Rebel of the Sands - Alwyn Hamilton: Middle Eastern Fantasy, Guns, and Djinn

In REBEL OF THE SANDS, Amani wants to escape her abusive family by leaving town and ends up having to team up with a fugitive.

What intrigued me: Mostly recommendations from friends.

Very Unique and Hard to Get Into

REBEL OF THE SANDS has a beautifully unique setting that's somewhere between a Middle Eastern and a classic Western town. Surprisingly, the mashup isn't as strange as you'd expect. There's shooting, djinns, other malevolent creatures and magic. It's certainly something that I have never seen before in YA and therefore definitely gets the full score if we're talking originality. Though I do think that REBEL OF THE SANDS plays into stereotypes too much and does very little to help you familiarize yourself with the world. 

I love that Hamilton drew inspiration from Middle Eastern culture, but I really would've wished for her to make it easier for the average reader to truly understand the culture. Similar to the criticism I had for THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, which also features a Persian-inspired world, I would've been over the moon happy if there was a glossary included. So many words of Arab origin that you'd never understand or recognize unless you're googling what it means, little nods to clothing and culture and food, that you'd have no way of understanding. 

I think especially when you're not including a Western setting, considering that this is a book first published in the US in English, you have to consider that that will frustrate readers. It did frustrate me and take away from the narration because I was constantly looking up words and absolutely couldn't get truly immersed into the world.

Gimmicky and Lacking in Execution

Ultimately it's a mixture of the lackluster storytelling that just didn't get to the point, and the confusing world building that really didn't make REBEL OF THE SANDS match my taste. Hamilton merrily uses lots of info-dumps at the most inconvenient times that made me want to skim, skip, or even quit altogether. I never quite grew invested in the story, all about it felt gimmicky to me and kind of unbelievable. 

REBEL OF THE SANDS tries to be a western with paranormal elements, but also a classic high fantasy novel and the genre-mashup just doesn't work. I found it lengthy and boring and the writing too bulky and awkward to pull all of it off. At the core there is just no story to tell. REBEL OF THE SANDS purely relies on the world building (which is pretty much summed up by "there are monsters in the desert"), and that just doesn't work. While the setting is interesting, I think this lacks severely in execution and storytelling and I wish there was more to it all aside from the unique setting. 




Overall: Do I Recommend?

REBEL OF THE SANDS tries to bring a new perspective and breath of fresh air into the genre, but doesn't quite deliver. If you generally enjoy Westerns, you still might enjoy this. But don't expect this to be the first Western to get you into the genre.

Important: It has come to my attention that Hamilton's portrayal of Middle Eastern culture is a little offensive. Please read the review by my blogger friend Aimal, she's Pakistani Muslim and makes some valid points that you should take into consideration.

EDIT: This is actually more racist than I thought, so I'm lowering my rating. I don't feel comfortable speaking on any of the issues because I'm not Muslim or Middle Eastern and I wouldn't know what I'm talking about.

Additional Info

Published: August 22nd 106
Pages: 352
Publisher: cbt
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9783570164365

"She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from. 

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him... or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is." (Source: Goodreads)

Have you read REBEL OF THE SANDS?

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Monday, February 15, 2016

[Review] The Wrath and the Dawn (#1) - Renée Ahdieh

In THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, Caliph Khalid takes a new bride every day and the next morning, they turn up dead. Shahrzad has lost her best friend to the caliph and is now determined to avenge her by becoming a bride herself - and killing the king.
What intrigued me: An evil king killing his wives. A kickass lady coming to avenge their deaths. Yes. All the yes.

Just Another Retelling

If you are familiar with the original tale of Scheherazade, THE WRATH AND THE DAWN won't surprise you for a minute. I was hoping for this to be focused on revenge and intrigues, but sadly, the protagonist Shahrzad is quickly distracted from her mission to avenge when she falls in love with the king.

Instead of a revenge-filled, sizzling reimagination of the original tale, it's more of a washed down version that doesn't manage to surprise or enthrall for a mere second. Ahdieh disregards the original meaning and purpose of the story and neglects it to tell a love story.
This retelling doesn't feel like it was meant to be about emancipation and standing up for other women like the original - at least not until the pretty love interest walks in. Shahrzad doesn't come across as sincere about truly killing the king for a second, which quickly made me lose interest in the story. 

THE WRATH AND THE DAWN borrows from the successful examples of many other similar novels before - love triangles, instant love, the protagonist smitten between the good guy and the bad guy - it's nothing I haven't read a thousand times before.

Superficial World Building

But what definitely makes this novel stand out is the setting. Ahdieh really manages to sweep you up in the Persian-myth-inspired world and it works. Her writing is very lyrical, almost too much so for me.

However, Ahdieh uses the fact that this is a foreign world too much, but merely scratches the surface. So many foreign words, mainly words that simply describe clothing, who even remain unexplained, just for the sake of half-hearted world building. I would have wished to be truly immersed in the culture of that time. Taking this as a retelling of the Arabian/Persian myth, this version of the story doesn't feel true to the customs of that age. Again, her spin on the folk story remains absolutely superficial. It reads like a Western love story set in the desert.




Overall: Do I Recommend?

I would have liked more variation and own spin to the tale. You can try it out, especially if you are not familiar with Scheherazade. I just wasn't very fond to this novel's tendency to borrow from things we've all read about before.

THE WRATH AND THE DAWN disappoints as a retelling of the famous story from ONE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS, and simply borrows where it's convenient to fuel the love story.

Additional Info

Original Title: The Wrath and the Dawn
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Published: February 12th 2016
Publisher: Bastei Lübbe (one by Lübbe)

"One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?"(Source: Goodreads)


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Saturday, January 16, 2016

7 Books I Vow To Read in 2016 | Cleaning Up My Wish List

I hope 2016 will be a better reading year for me and I will finally manage to read 100 books this year. I'll start it very ambitiously and tell you some of the books that I definitely will read in 2016. I'm calling this ambitious because I don't even own 90% of these. I should though.

ANOTHER DAY - David Levithan
I've been talking about this almost since the day it was announced that my favorite novel EVERY DAY would get a companion novel. Why haven't I read this? Why don't I own this? What is wrong with me?

One of those novels that everyone was talking about in 2015. I'm not sure about the premise, something about a boy king getting all his future brides killed? I just know that it's set in an oriental inspired world and all my friends loved it, so I vow to read this. 

I'm always craving books about Norse mythology. The king of mythology YA wrote this, so I basically don't even have a choice here.

CINDER - Marissa Meyer
I know, it's absolutely ridiculous that I'm the last one on this planet that hasn't read this. Fairytale retelling. Space. I have to.

LAST SACRIFICE - Richelle Mead
I've been putting off reading this for almost 6 months. Very strange, considering the fact that I read the first five books within a month. I just wasn't a fan of the fifth one and am scared of this series to end horribly. I vow to do this in 2016.

This is so long overdue. I need to finish the series.

THESE BROKEN STARS - Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

I've been loving these covers from the minute this book started appearing EVERYWHERE. Everyone and their mothers has read it and I just don't understand why I haven't. Let's change this. 

Which books do you vow to read in 2016?

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