Publication Date: September 19th 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5
Source: Publisher (Through Edelweiss)
Kadi is a young girl in modern-day Timbuktu. Daughter of a scripture librarian. A fan of literature, music and art, she hopes one day to become the esteemed guardian of the scriptures her father currently looks after.
Ali is a small-town boy from the villages of Mali. He's joined the Defenders of Faith, a branch of Al Qaeda and is an important player in the take of Timbuktu.
As life changes drastically in Timbuktu, Ali and Kadi meet. They hate each other instantly- but something about their natures encourages them to interact with one another. Opening up to each other was a huge mistake- or was it?
Kadi and Ali are such different characters than those you usually read about. They're honest in a deceitful environment and smart in a world collapsing because of stupidity. They are perfectly unique and stand out so obviously from the mesh of young-adult characters out there already.
It helps, of course, that they are culturally and religiously different than most of the characters I've read about. Set in Timbuktu, Mali (a place I've never read about), the traditions and small day-to-day activities of the city stood out to me- a reader who knows nothing about these regular tasks of the Malian day.
The main attraction of the Book was in the ideological contrast between peaceful followers of Islam and the jihadist members of "Defenders of Faith". That was what drew me into the book, and that's what I left thinking about.
I enjoyed the writing, which was split between Kadi's and Ali's points of view. I don't have a set opinion about multiple Points of View in a book, but I must say I enjoyed this one. It needed the contrast between opinion and religious interpretation to accent the author's message.
Overall, I'd recommend this book to YA readers looking for a (literary) cultural shock. If you're tired of reading about North American modern teenagers- this is the right book for you! With an element of romance that is definitely not overpowering, this novel is the perfect blend of thriller and romance!
PS- This book helped me add one more country to the "Travel the World in Books" challenges hosted by Mom's Small Victories.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I received no other compensation for this post.