Page Count: 416
Published On: May 14, 2019
Published By: Scholastic Press
Genre(s): Fantasy, YA
Source: audio-book through Hoopla
My Rating: 3.25 stars
Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population -- except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, Noor is protected from the Shayateen by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, and by their commander, Zulfikar.
But when one of the most potent of the Ifrit dies, Fatima is changed in ways she cannot fathom, ways that scare even those who love her. Oud in hand, Fatima is drawn into the intrigues of the maharajah and his sister, the affairs of Zulfikar and the djinn, and the dangers of a magical battlefield.
Nafiza Azad weaves an immersive tale of magic and the importance of names; fiercely independent women; and, perhaps most importantly, the work for harmony within a city of a thousand cultures and cadences.
I was asked to write a review for the blog tour for this lovely book. Unfortunately, I was unable to complete my review for yesterday because there were tornadoes and storms that knocked out my neighborhood's power. I didn't have WiFi to post this review and I couldn't leave my house...because tornadoes.
When I first started this book, I was so excited...but then, skeptical because I was having a hard time becoming immersed in the story. The pace was slower and the omniscient third person present tense caused me to struggle to connect with the book. Don't get me wrong, it's so lush and intense, but wow, it took me a minute to get into it. The tense that this book was written in was just a struggle for me because I was listening to the story, rather than physically reading. The narrator's slower reading style, combined with the slower pace, really started to bug me and I ended up turning up the speed on my audio-book to nearly 2x. I think that's a personal preference for me, though.
Once I fully became immersed in the story, however, I really liked the story. It's just so fascinating. I haven't read anything like it before. Noor City is such an interesting place to be and I became so excited to get to explore the city through Fatima Ghazala, Zulfikar, and the other characters. The characters in this book were so freaking cool, but I felt like I couldn't fully connect with them because I couldn't fully connect with their inner thoughts and feelings. It felt like I was at arm's length from them the entire time. The way that this book was written worked, -- it wasn't as if it was executed badly -- but it took me a hot minute to get used to the style. I think that I struggled with connecting to the characters because I listened to the book, I wasn't familiar with the names that derived from Eastern cultures, and because of the style. It's definitely just a preference.
The details in this book, though, were so freaking great. The descriptions that Azad created are so stunning and I couldn't help but imagine Agrabah from the Aladdin movies (the new film was STUNNING). Every detail was like an intricately woven tapestry and I couldn't get enough of it. The relationships that developed throughout this book were so interesting, though the romance between Fatima Ghazala and Zulfikar wasn't my cup of tea. I felt like their feelings for each other started too quickly and abruptly. It was very insta-lovey for me and I don't think it was done as well as I would have hoped. Fatima Ghazala's sister, Sunaina, at first, was one of my least favorite characters, but as the novel progressed she really grew on me. I think she has a lot of potential for a great adventure story. I honestly think that she is going to end up with one of the other girls. (I apologize for any spelling errors. I didn't read the book physically, so I have no idea how to spell their names.) Overall, this was a very enjoyable cast of characters.
Overall, Fatima Ghazala was my favorite character. She was so strong and relatable. I really love that she wasn't villainized for allowing herself the time to be distant and to herself. Usually in YA, women have to allow others to be in their space and they never have the ability to stay to themselves without being villainized by the other characters and the readers. Sometimes Fatima Ghazala was really distant and cold to others and she was never made the villain for it! I love it!
There were also so many discussions about feminism, mental health, forgiveness, and grief throughout this book. I absolutely love how it was handled. It's so beautiful and makes my heart so freaking happy.
This tale was so whimsical and addicting. Nafiza Azad has such a fantastic writing style and the way that she wove this story was so fun to see. I'm excited to see where her writing career goes.