Tuesday, 14 July 2015

The Wrath and the Dawn


Book Title: The Wrath and the Dawn
Author: Renée Andieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #1
Date Started: July 8th 2015
Date Completed: July 14th 2015
Genres: Romance, Historical, Fantasy
Quality Rating: Three Stars
Enjoyment Rating: Three Stars
Final Rating: Three stars

The Wrath and the Dawn really disappointed me for quite a few reasons. While there were parts that I could see being great if they'd just been worked on more practically, the whole thing ended up having so many little holes in it I just couldn't enjoy it as I'd have liked.

From the positive feedback surrounding this book and the rich culture it's set in, I was really looking forward to Andieh's writing. But frankly, I didn't see any beautiful writing. It was alright, and engaging enough to get the story across, but there was nothing unique in the prose. I don't really find listings of food, costume and riches particularly special to be honest - unless they're described in a way I've never thought about before. But the extend the description seem to reach was the typical simple similes to get across how nice or horrible something was.

The biggest drive for this story is the idea that Khalid has been killing his wives every morning ruthlessly and with no explanation. That, for me, absolutely fascinated me: of course I wanted to know why he was doing this, but since we're all pretty used to Young Adult theme of 'troubled but really good' characters I was more interested to see how Andieh would go about revealing things. To which I was sorely disappointed. First of all, the story began in a rush for me, and because of being thrown right into a tense, but not action-sort-of-tense, scene we were given little to no explanation for what was happening with Sharzad's motives and plans. Fair enough I thought, all will be revealed as we go along - apparently not. At no point are we really shown what a big deal all of this is; if you want your reader to really invest in something you need to show its importance to the characters. Just saying it's a big deal because people knew each other, or it's a shocking concept isn't enough - this is fiction, but we need to be convinced it's real.
Even later on, when we're told something terrible is going to happen if the characters don't act a certain way, nobody questions or even seems to bat an eyelid to the fact that nothing happens whatsoever. You can't have characters being dramatic about 'consequences' early on, and then have them not even notice when there are none.
One thing I really did love were the inclusion of traditional folktales - some recognisable in Western fairytales make an appearance, but the old stories from A Thousand and One Nights were also included. This really enhanced the culture in the story for me and was one of the things that really strengthened its presence in the book as a whole. Having said that, it became really hard to enjoy these little tales because of the unnecessary interruptions to remind us that this is somehow supposed to be steamily romantic for Sharzad and Khalid - I wanted to enjoy it as a reader and lover of old stories, rather than be constantly reminded that it's intended to help their relationship along.
I didn't really feel that there was a climax in this novel, and the reveal we're waiting for throughout the whole book wasn't that tense and didn't make a lot of sense to me. The reason Khalid's been killing the girls is riddled with plot holes in itself, but even afterwards the characters don't react logically. It seems like they do whatever they want to move the story on despite what their reactions should be, just because the 'drama' is enough for them to get away with it - in my opinion, it wasn't enough. And I don't see how the character's attempt at a resolution improves the situation whatsoever. But it didn't exactly make it entertainingly worse either. It didn't really do much at all.

I wasn't a fan of most of the characters in this book, firstly because they all came across as very stupid but thinking they were incredibly clever. I also didn't really get grudgingly swayed into liking the protagonists because of their romance: the biggest problem here was that they didn't feel like characters. They were just words on a page and nothing made them come to life.
I didn't like Sharzad. At all. She was incredibly stupid, loved by everyone, ended up being basically useless, and seemed to have this undying reputation for being fierce and strong and clever and quick. I agree with the fierceness, but female heroines with their tempers romanticised doesn't come across as inspirational to me - I find it very irritating since women are easily capable of far less destructive and more talented things. And can be liked just as much for it. But even beyond that, we're told she's looking to wreak revenge on him, but does she ever actually plan it? Does she ever even start to act on it? Is there ever a point where she takes something in and uses that to get to her goal before she gets inevitably convinced otherwise? No. The concept seems to just be a way to get her into a situation where forbidden love becomes attractive.
Khalid I started to like at several points, but I felt his character was being pushed too hard in the direction of the angry, attractive male interest when it didn't really fit what he came across as to me. I definitely saw a more quiet and humble and guilty boy - one that didn't need to have a quick temper to show across how conflicted he was. And while I think (well, hope) that's the place he's at by the end of the book, his inconsistency makes me think that maybe he won't have changed much at all by the sequel.

The pacing needed to be a bit clearer in my opinion: The Wrath and the Dawn actually spans over quite a few months, and while I loved this use of time to exaggerate the growth of the relationship, there was often very little indication of how much time had passed, and when it in fact had. The timeline jumps even now and then, but there's only a passing sentence in most instances that tell us this, and a vague explanation for what's happened in that time and why we're suddenly jumped ahead for no reason.
Though I understand Andieh did this in order to slowly build up the relationship (that unfortunately still suffered from aspects of instalove) we end up with a story where we're thrown into the middle without much development around the world and concept, and then left there for 200 pages doing very little. And then suddenly both the main plot line and side stories clamour together towards the end, and of course with no resolution because it's an unavoidable YA series. I felt that even balancing the side stories and main plot line so that we had a range of intensity throughout the whole book would have improved the current state where we have nothing to really get into, and then far too much at the end.

For a fully-fledged story I felt The Wrath and the Dawn was flawed, but I can see the obvious appeal to romance readers. Unsurprisingly the sequel has to be read to really appreciate the story, so don't go into this thinking it's a stand alone and you'll get a proper resolution. Though I don't agree with the hype around the book, there were times when I enjoyed it - even if the little details pulled it down in the long run.

Image Source - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18798983-the-wrath-and-the-dawn

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