Saturday, September 3, 2016

Review: The Wrath and the Dawn - Renee Ahdieh

The Wrath & the Dawn
Renee Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Retelling
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars

I don't even know how to start talking about this book. It gave me so much more than I asked it for; it blew my expectations out of the water. I've always thought 1001 Nights was an interesting tale and because it's so old and so interesting there are many attempts at retellings -- some popular, some not so much. I remember last year this came out just slightly before A Thousand Nights and everyone was comparing the two which is unfair to both books but inevitable nonetheless and I read the other one first and was Not Impressed and did not want the impression of that one to influence my feelings about this so I didn't prioritize it and now I'm hella late to the game but I just read it this past July and I cannot stress enough how amazing I thought it was!!!!!!!

Everything in this book has so much passion -- the writing, the characters, the story. It's so beautifully executed. If you're unfamiliar with the story, it centers around Shahrzad, who vengefully volunteers to be the bride of Khalid, an 18 year old boy-king who takes a new bride every night -- her best friend having been taken the previous night -- and kills each one with a silk cord around her neck the next morning. She stalls her fate by telling him a story and leaving it unfinished, making him wait until the next day, forcing him to keep her alive night after night.

Shahrzad has such a fire in her that was so refreshing to read. I'm really not entirely sure how to describe her because she's very perceptive but very stubborn and sometimes rash and just a combination of so many traits that it's hard to describe her in terms other than herself, ya feel??? Mostly, she's just full of wit and full of thoughts.

Honestly, every single character in this book was so well written. It was beautifully done. The point of view shifts between various characters, from Shahrzard to Khalid to her dad to some other people we meet throughout the book and it really gives insight into the bigger picture of what's going on and also what was happening before she got to the palace and what's happening elsewhere and all this other cool stuff and I never once felt like I was bored of one POV and it was dragging or that it was extraneous, so this book was really well put together.

Also, speaking of how the book was put together, the writing was!!!! so!!!! beautiful!!! Honestly, I knew from the prologue this book would be eloquent because one of the first few lines is "They watched the pale light of the early morning sun push back the darkness with slow, careful deliberation," and just try and tell me that isn't one of the best ways you've heard a sunrise being described. There are lots of other quotes I saved but for concision's sake I will leave them out and you can read them in the book yourself because reading this review is a promise that you will read it (if you have not already).

I realize I led into the well-written characters and kinda side-tracked into something else so I'll just talk character highlights:

I already mentioned how much I love Shahrzad, but Despina -- her handmaiden -- is just perfect. She's like a sassy lil grape. I love that she refuses to take any of Shahrzad's shit and is constantly sassing her; their relationship makes me so happy. I also super love Jalal -- Khalid's cousin and commander of the guard. I love his friendship/brotherly-relationship with Khalid and I love him as a person and I think if there were anyone I'd want teaching me how to shoot a bow and arrow, it'd be him. Speaking of Khalid, I really liked the way he started off closed-off and standoffish and slowly warmed up to Shahrzard. He's a sweetie in a bad situation and I can't wait to see more of him in the next book. Also, I want to see more of her dad, who highkey went crazy looking for magic things but that's neither here nor there. And I want to see less of Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, who feels entitled to her and is Not Impressive.

I hope there isn't a love triangle with Tariq in the next book, less because it's a love triangle and more because Tariq just makes me uncomfortable. The romance otherwise was honestly well done. In the beginning, I was a little iffy about it because I felt like they jumped from hatred to Not Hatred kinda quickly but there were also some time skips (not long ones, like one or two days) so it wasn't like Weird or anything. Other than that, I thought the progression was so natural and I especially liked Shahrzad's constant questioning of her morals and how this affected them and her reasons for coming her because I really felt like it grounded her as a character.

Besides the romance, the other plot aspects were phenomenal. The magic was subtle but integrated in so well and I hope to see more of it in the next book because I think it could be something cool to explore. The pacing started off moderately fast and then got kinda slow and then packed a lot in the final few chapters, but they were so good and so intense that I didn't find myself caring whether or not the change in pace was brought on suddenly.

Anyway, this is getting super long so I hope you guys appreciate my attempt to keep my emotions in check and give you a coherent review (I feel like I succeeded tbh). I seriously highly recommend this book and hope you all read it.

Side note: the book was fantastic, but I also hella loved the ~story-within-a-story~ parts that Shahrzad was telling Khalid and I wish there were more but I am also very satisfied with the way they were done and how much of the book they were incorporated into.

- Noor

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  1. I LOVE your review! You totally captured many of my own reactions to this thing of beauty. I was very sad that this was only a duology, because I wanted it to go on forever. I loved the characters, and Ahdieh's writing is so beautiful.

    1. I still haven't read the second book but just by reading this one, I know two isn't enough for me, I really wish it was more than a duology too :((((