Monday, December 28, 2015

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

Title: The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1)
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Publication Date:  May 12th 2015
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads Blurb: 
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?
Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.

Cast of Characters: (I'm including this part mostly as reference for myself because I'm horrible at remembering character names)

Shazi- MC
Khalid- King, MC
Tariq- Shazi's old friend
Jalal- Khalid's "friend"
Despina- Shazi's new friend/handmaiden/"spy"
Yasmine- small role, interesting princess
Jahandar- Shazi's (crazy) dad

Overall Thoughts: 

One word: serendipitous. This book was such a lovely surprise .
When I first read the description, I wasn't entirely sure this would be my kind of book. But I am so very glad I was bored enough to pick up this book because if I wasn't I wouldn't have discovered one of my favorite books this year (maybe of all time?!).

This is a story of a girl named Shahrzad who sets out to avenge her friend's death, but instead discovers unexpected friends, secrets, and her soul mate. She saves her own life with her wit and storytelling and along the way learns: that things aren't black and white, those she trust the most don't always understand, to forgive.

The Wrath and the Dawn had beautiful writing and magnificent scenes of feasts, the palace, and the desert. The world-building was phenomenal and I loved how this is based off of A Thousand and One Nights. The characters were so real and alive. It has been a while since I related/understood a character as fully and completely as I understood Shahrzad. Her motives, her thoughts, and her actions were so clear. The same cannot be said of Khalid's, however. I didn't know from which angle Ms. Ahdieh was portraying him at first (was he the villain? the good guy?), but in contrast, I loved his enigmatic backstory. The revelation of the curse was entirely unexpected and was a great explanation for Khalid's actions but I wish there was more clarity to the conditions of the curse. The plot was entirely captivating and I enjoyed every exciting moment of this novel.

The Breakdown:

The characters, both main and side, were fully formed and independent beings. Each had a character arc and all of them had such interesting personalities. My favorite "side" character (in my opinion, a side character is everyone except the heroes/heroines) was probably Despina with her sharp wit and
"best-friend" personality. She was intelligent and kind, and wasn't there only to support Shahrzad. Despina and Shahrzad were in the process of building a really strong friendship, and I hope to see it continue in the next book.

The plot twist. Guys I didn't see the end coming. What even. It was fittingly exciting and suited the tone of the entire book. But what a cliffhanger. It was frustrating because one conflict (the curse) was fulfilled and done with, while the consequences of Khalid's actions (which were in reaction to the curse) took over as the main conflict.

This book was brilliant from start to finish; I can't really say which my favorite part was (beginning, middle, end) because it was consistently great. However, there was one thing I found lacking: Shazi's backstory.  I want to hear more about her adventures with her childhood friends and little sister.

I love the mythology & folklore of other cultures. This book perfectly integrates the Arabian setting with the magical atmosphere, complete with curses, a flying carpet, and elemental (fire) powers, that I loved in Aladdin. The crowded city, the palace, and the desert were described in detail and I found myself right next to Shahrzad, watching her overcome challenge after challenge. I think something really makes TW&TD really stand out is it's diversity. There haven't been many YA novels with PoC as the main characters and I just love how this is a pretty accurate and positive portrayal of a different culture.

Favorite Quotes:
“So you would have me throw Shazi to the wolves?”
“Shazi?” Jalal’s grin widened. “Honestly, I pity the wolves.”
― Renee AhdiehThe Wrath and the Dawn
“You are not weak. You are not indecisive. You are strong. Fierce. Capable beyond measure.”
― Renee AhdiehThe Wrath and the Dawn
“For without a measure of arrogance, how can one attempt the impossible?”
― Renee AhdiehThe Wrath and the Dawn