Every Wednesday, I review books. But seeing as I have seven books to review, I thought it would be better to combine two for a rapid book review instead which is always fun to do (triple-rhyme, boo-yah!).
Maturity Rating: 13+
A fictional treatise on the defence of insta-love and how fate and destiny play a role in shaping our lives. You know when you’re cooking a lasagna and you’ve finally put it in the oven but suddenly you realise that you may have sprinkled far too much parmesan on top? This book is exactly that. There is enough cheese to feed the population of Africa. I believe Nicola Yoon strategically placed a character like Natasha who is a devout sceptic on anything that cannot be proved by science to balance Daniel’s complete and whole-hearted belief in love and fate. The question is: did I believe that Daniel and Natasha (YA’s Robin and Ted) had chemistry? Hell, yeah. Enough to believe in insta-love? Hell, no. Love needs to be proved. You cannot prove it in a day.
Luckily for us, all that comes crashing down in the end. Hard. However, having said that, I do believe in fate and not in the ‘OMG, your interview is with the same person and in the same building as my lawyer’s?’ showcased in the book (which was plain ridiculous), but in the little ways our actions and inactions connect to not only our fates, but others (like the lawyer missing the court hearing because he was too excited about his improptu boinking session).
Also, what is with YA and these two-page POV’s that read like an extended blurb? How am I supposed to empathise with the characters when there’s barely any depth to create that understanding between reader and character? I didn’t care enough about what happened to them because why should I? I barely know them which was a shame because this book covers important topics like immigration and identity. Natasha’s dad was infinitely more interesting and that’s not the best thing in a YA book when your father steals the story. Aside from that, firstly, a huge yay for diversity! I also loved the little nuggets of history, facts, and back story on related characters, ideologies and Korean and Jamaican culture. Because, YES, TALK NERDY TO ME.
Side note: I love that this book pointed out how irritating it is when people ask: where are you really from? I am really from the UK, I was born in London. If you want to ask me what my ethnicity is then ask that because where I am really from is the UK, as I’ve told you. Use your brain.
Notable quotes (it did have many, so props to Nicola Yoon):
“In Korea, the family name came first and told the entire history of your ancestry. In America, the family name is called the last name. Dae Hyun said it showed that Americans think the individual is more important than the family.”
“It takes three years for Natasha’s natural hair to grow in fully. She doesn’t do it to make a political statement. In fact, she liked having her hair straight. In the future, she may make it straight again. She does it because she wants to try something new.
She does it simply because it looks beautiful.”
“All parents love their children, he wants to say. But that’s not true. Nothing is ever universal. Most parents love their children.”
Maturity Rating: 16+, contains scenes of sexual and non-sexual violence
This is the first graphic novel I’ve read after over a decade (remember Captain Underpants, The Bean comics, Asterix and Obelix? *sob*). And I’m so glad I did because I LOVED THIS. My goodness, what a book, what a story, what amazing characters! Where do I start?
The artwork was endearing and perfectly depicted the tragedy and emotions of the characters. The story takes place in the Middle East, and there are sultans, harems, eunuchs, fishermen, etc. There’s so much to take in which adds to the breathlessness of the journey you’ll experience as a reader.
Dodola and Zam are brought together after Dodola escapes and saves Zam and herself from being auctioned off as slaves. After growing up together, they find themselves separated by circumstance but vow to themselves to find each other and look after each other. They go to whatever length they can to protect and love each other. And what happens in between is heart-breaking and it also taught me a couple of things too such as the importance of not imposing your ideologies on young people when they do not have the ability or knowledge to understand the consequences of certain decisions (such as castration).
The story of the fishermen taught me an abundance of things; namely, it reminded me to be optimistic but not stupid. In the story, the fisherman happily gives away food to a homeless man but isn’t aware of the fact that once he leaves, some children beat the homeless man and steal his food. This continues until eventually the fisherman finds him dead. Also, he provides shelter to many people who are down on their luck. One day, after the water system (irrigation device, I think) breaks down, they criticise and leave him which crushes his spirit as he considered them to be family. But Dodola and Zam, help rebuild his house and rediscover his optimism. Some people will be ungrateful, no matter what, but there are a few gems who truly appreciate what you do for them and will genuinely return the favour.
And, finally, for those who love to have their brain fed with knowledge, there are stories on the Prophets (from an Islamic and Christian viewpoint) and lots of scientific information which as a newbie, I enjoyed learning. I’ll leave this review with a beautiful quote:
“And God’s followers worship… not out of hope for reward… nor fear of punishment… but out of love.”
Goodreads links have been provided via the book titles in this post if you want to add them to your TBR! Let me know if you’ve read these books and your thoughts on them or if you’re planning to read them. Also, if you have any recommendations for graphic novels that are educational, do let me know because I love to learn.