So I’m chugging along reading! But I’ve been pretty terrible about putting up reviews. Sorry, lovely readers! Work has been busy, and the books have been good, and honestly I’ve just been a little tired! Don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten you.
I’ve been in a great YA space lately, having read two incredibly well done YA love stories.
The book we’re looking at today is Renee Ahdieh’s A Thousand and One Nights-inspired The Wrath and the Dawn.
REVIEW: The Wrath and the Dawn, Renee Ahdieh
Country/Culture: Middle Eastern/Arabian
Plot: For reasons unknown, the king is killing his wives each night and taking a new one in the morning. To avenge her best friend, Sharzhad volunteers to marry the evil king, and tells him stories to stretch her one night into many. The only problem? She starts to fall in love.
Most Memorable Line(s): “My soul sees its equal in you.”
– I mean, what an amazing declaration of love.
What I liked: So, I really thought this book was great. An unexpected but awesome aspect was how fleshed out the world of the book was. I really thought it’d be just Shazi telling Khalid stories from her room, and that would be the book. But Ahdieh really brought the world out in the perspectives of Tariq and Jahandar and I’m so glad she did. Not having just Shazi, and not having it just be about the other stories she’s telling, was a really great move and obviously made sense because this book is the first of a series. However, I also loved the stories that Ahdieh had Shazi tell. Each with such an obvious purpose, I really loved the depth they brought into The Wrath and the Dawn. The book’s connections to One Thousand and One Nights really made sense that way. Ahdieh really did an amazing job fleshing out her characters. Each one – including the minor side characters – had a purpose, had a reason, and had a story. There’s nothing better than that in a book. Shazi had such an incredible, deep soul. It was impossible not to love her, even when she frustratingly fell in love with the guy she wasn’t supposed to, of course. Her guilt and fierce desires were evident and made her so real – and that’s how I felt about Khalid as well. Ahdieh did such an amazing job building his backstory while keeping him mysterious. And, speaking of side characters, Jalal and Despina are so perfectly written. Both humor-filled and secret-keeping, they add a wonderful layer to the story. Hooray! Finally, something else I didn’t expect was the perspective of the novel; I thought it was going to be in Shazi’s perspective in first person. Instead, we hopped around thrid person limited, between Shazi, Tariq, Khalid, and even Jahandar. It really helped build Ahdieh’s world.
What I didn’t like: Okay, so let me preface this by saying I understand why this choice was made in terms of making the book work in the way it did. BUT, I really hate that Tariq was also a love interest. It made it really, really hard for me to at all support the Shazi/Khalid storyline. I felt so bad for Tariq, who wanted nothing more than the person he loved to be safe. I get that the balcony scene helps cements the reality of Shazi’s feelings for Khalid, but I just wish that Tariq would have been a more familial or platonic love. The scene where Shazi really makes her decision, that was about Shiva – not Tariq. And Tariq, I felt, could have been made a brother or cousin, especially since Shazi’s family was a question mark for Khalid and Jalal. Like I said, I understand it when I take a step back and look at the story as a whole. But I really wanted to be a fan of Shazi & Khalid, and knowing about Tariq made it really difficult for me.