Unfortunately I think that The Wrath & the Dawn is supremely overhyped. Sure, it's a good book, but is it as good as everyone is raving about? For me, at least, it is not.
One thing I can agree with most on is that the imagery in this book is gorgeous. While reading, you can't help but be brought into the sandy Middle Eastern World. Sometimes you may even find that you can almost taste the fruit being eaten, or feel the hot rays of the sun. To me, the imagery might have been the best part of the book, it is most certainly the most outstanding feature.
The Wrath & the Dawn is loosely based off of A Thousand and One Nights, which was ultimately the reason I even ended up buying the book. See, I've been hearing all about the Wrath & the Dawn for an unbelievably long time, but I was never really that interested in picking it up. What did finally pique my interest about the book was reading about the tale of A Thousand and One Nights in my history text book. I kid you not, I only bought this book because of a textbook. Call me a nerd, I don't care, I love history.
So finally, I gave in to the hype and bought the book. Other than not exactly being interested in the synopsis. I was also put off by the book becasue of all the hype surrounding it. From my years of reading, I've learned that I must be careful of books with a lot of hype. Most of the time I end up disappointed. (*Cough* Looking at you, An Ember in the Ashes)
If you don't know the story of a Thousand and One Nights, here's a quick retelling of it. A Caliph kills his new bride every morning, and marries a new one every day. That is, until one smart woman comes in and tells him a riveting story-- one that lasts all night. The Caliph agrees to spare her life for another night so he can hear the conclusion to the story. This happens over and over until the woman becomes the Caliph's favorite wife and he decides to not kill her for good.
"Because you're not a gifted liar. You only think yourself to be."
"And you're not that good at reading people. You only think yourself to be."
A Thousand and One Nights is extremely predictable, with a sassy protagonist, a tortured love interest and a good guy love interest. Still, it managed to be a fairly good novel because its cast of characters are interesting and as mentioned before, the imagery is astonishing.
Shazi is the protagonist of the story. She's quick witted and funny. I enjoyed that for the most part, she was not a damsel in distress and rather clever. She volunteers to marry the Caliph, who had been murdering all his wives, in an attempt to avenge her best friend's death. I read this in another review and I have to say I agree with it-- Shazi never actually makes any moves to try and kill or avange her friend's death. In fact, she kind of does the opposite. Obviously, (I don't see this as a spoiler because it's in the synopsis) Shazi ends up falling in love with the Caliph, and while I can see how they're a good pair and can't help but like the Caliph, I still cannot relate to Shazi. Why? Because I can't ever see myself falling in love with the man who killed my best friend. Even if it was somone I was already deeply in love with, I just wouldn't be able to do it. So Shazi... Not the worst protagonist, I did enjoy some of her characteristics, but there were also elements of hers that deeply aggravated me. Mostly how her thoughts always contridicted her actions. Like how she kept saying she was there for revenge, but never actually acted upon it-- or how she kept saying I will not do this and then just doing it anyway.
"I am trying to entice you. I've been told a good story teller can trap an audience with a single sentence."
"Then you have failed."
Khalid, the Caliph, is an interesting character. While it's hardly a mystery as to why he kills all his wives, his personality is still quite interesting. He had a great burden placed upon him when he was extremely young, and is handling it fairly well. I did enjoy his scenes, especially because he seems like a fairly thoughtful guy, still, though, I just can't help but be a little put off by his romance with Shazi. It's a good romance, if not for the fact that he killed her best friend. I understand why he did it, but it still doesn't sit well with me. Not that I really blame Khalid for that, it just makes me a little estranged from the romance and Shazi.
Tariq is Shazi's first boyfriend. I read in another review someone calling him a lovesick puppy. Yeah, I have to agree with that. He's sweet and will do anything for Shazi-- including rebelling against the Caliph. While I know the romance is all about Khalid and Shazi (because that's literally the whole point of the book), I still enjoyed Tariq's character. Same with Rahim, Shazi's other childhood friend. Rahim brought many smiles out of me whilst I was reading, which I greatly appreciated.
Jalal is another character whose scenes I quite enjoyed. He's a good side character and friend to those in the books-- steadfast and loyal. Two qualities that I deeply appreciate. He, too, brought quite a few smiles to my face. I'm looking forward to reading more about him in the next book.
Oh! I almost forgot. Another reason I wasn't particularly attached to the romance-- it felt an awful lot like instalove to me. And if there's one thing you should know about me and romances, it's that I absolutely hate instalove.
"Strong enough to take on the world with our bare hands, yet we permit ridiculous boys to make fools of us."
As I mentioned before, the plot was definitely not the best part of the book. It was predicable and not particulalry riveting. I had no issue putting it down while I shopped around in the airport looking for food. While there were some not fantastic elements to the book, and I believe it to be extremely overhyped, I did find myself enjoying some of the qualities. Therefore I would give The Wrath & the Dawn 6.8/10 stars. Not incredable, but not bad either. I do intend to be reading the next book soon.
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.
Anyway, thanks for reading!