Book Review: The Wrath & the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

Title: The Wrath & the Dawn
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Published: 2015
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Synopsis: 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?

My Rating: red-starred-starred-star 1/2

Alright, here we go! So I mentioned when I placed this book in my TBR for the readathon that this book is one of those that lives in the world of hyped-up and as such can suffer from over expectations. I knew that going in and I tried to separate the two entities and take the book at face value.

As it is, I think this is a good book but it’s not great, excellent or ‘amazing’. Our story follows an above-average YA heroine, without doubt she’s the best part of this story and I dare say that she alone carries the book. She’s strong, sassy, quick-witted but also loving and generous. She is, as many teens are, rather childish in many aspects and her interaction with Khalid showcase that but I believe it’s purposely done. An older wise woman knows not to push a man the way Shazi does and as such that back and forth was rather unrealistic. I can’t really say much about Khalid because he was to me such a secondary character, the same phrases were used to describe him over and over such as ‘monster’, ‘murderer’, ‘boy-king’, etc. Aside from them two I found the rest of the cast pretty hard to like. Most especially Despina, a foreign servant that speaks to the King’s wife as a girlfriend would speak to her friends in High School which was jarring to me and pulled me right out of the setting each time they interacted.

That aside, the true problem with this book is the execution of the plot. It is slow to the point of stagnation and I was incredibly bored through many parts. The last 75 pages were much better but by then I was scanning the text, skipping all the exposition because it felt repetitive. Shazi goes into the castle at the beginning and our story is ripe with promise but then we get an entire book of Shazi have zero plan to get revenge and instead we’re treated to her day to day events as they fall in love. Hence this book falls to me as a YA Romance with snippets of fantasy. This book is set as a duology and there is no reason for this story to be split up. Clocking in at 388 pages, 100 pages of which were potpourri and this story should’ve been condensed into one book. The second problem this book has is that it should’ve have been written in first person narrative and I seldom say that but this book would’ve benefited much more from that style. It would’ve added to the mystery and tension if all we saw was the world from Shazi’s eyes.

Overall, I give Ahdieh high praise for the cultural elements added to this story, it brought richness and dept to an otherwise bland and run of the mill YA book, which I think is why so many people love it because it’s different and that makes all the difference. I think that the ending with the love story was well done and I would say that the strongest elements of this story are the bread – meaning the beginning and the ending. Good teen book and thumbs up for diversity.

 

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