Synopsis: Magic has disappeared from Arawiya and because of this, each region has been cursed in a different way, but all of them are threatened by the ever-growing Arz, a forest that no one comes out of once they go in. Zafira is the Hunter, a girl pretending to be a man in order to provide food for her people. Nasir is the prince of Arawiya, turned into and used as an assassin by his father. Both are sent across the Arz to the mysterious island of Sharr in order to find an item that will restore magic and break the curses on the land.
I heard about this book from my best friend, as well from some Barnes & Noble employees. I had decided that I wanted to go to the YA book club meeting they had for this book and I’m happy to say that I actually did go! I will devote a whole section to that experience after my review!
I was really excited going in to this book, but I have to say that my feelings overall were just lukewarm. The beginning was really hard to get past and the rest of the book was messy in terms of plot. The worst thing about this book for me was that I could not for the life of me picture the setting. No matter where the characters where, they looked like they were just in blank space. It took me an embarrassing amount of time to realize that Zafira’s area was covered in snow.
There were so many loose threads in terms of the plot. It seemed to be about Zafira proving that women could do anything that men do, but that theme got lost toward the end of the book. This happened with a lot of different plotlines, and then new ones were introduced at the end, but they didn’t have enough time to really be fleshed out.
This book is told in both Zafira and Nasir’s viewpoints, but I didn’t necessarily enjoy this because I didn’t like Nasir. He was so back and forth with how he felt about things in a very unrealistic way. I did really enjoy Zafira, so it would have been fine by me if the whole book was in her point of view.
The romance in this book really stumped me. I thought maybe it could be different than what happens in a typical YA book, but unfortunately, it was typical and forced. I thought there could be some great f/f and m/m romances in this, but that wasn’t the case. It didn’t even feel like I was just thinking wishfully, it really felt like there was a romantic connection between characters that ended up being not romantic at all.
Overall, this book was just messy. I know this was the author’s first book, but the ending was just too much. So much happened, a lot from the beginning got brushed aside, and so much was packed in that nothing got the proper amount of time and explanation. I would possibly be interested in reading the sequel, since it seems like it will follow two side characters from this book, who happened to be my favorites.
YA Barnes & Noble Book Club Experience
I was so absolutely nervous about going to this book club. I’ve never been in a book club before and I really didn’t know what to expect. I told myself that at least the location was good because it was a good place to scope out who was there while pretending to look at books. My social anxiety was freaking out because I didn’t know who would be there, how many people would be there, who the host was, if anything was expected of me, ect. But! I ended up going over to the area where everyone was meeting…except I was the only person who showed up. I feel bad for the woman who hosts it, but I’m also glad I went, because if I hadn’t, there would have been no one.
It was super cool to have a one on one discussion about this book! I had just finished the book just minutes before leaving, so it was still fresh in my mind. I wish I had taken some time to think about it beforehand, but talking about it definitely helped me make sense of my feelings for the book.
The woman running the club at my local store was super nice! We talked about last month’s book (I bought it, but didn’t read it) and we took a look at next month’s book. I am definitely going to keep going to the book club! I had a great time and now that I know the woman who runs it, I will be much more comfortable with going.