The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Published by G.P Putnam’s Son’s Books
Genres: YA, Retelling, Fantasy, Romace
For fans of: Love triangles, special snowflakes, books with potential that don’t quite work
My rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
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.
Warning: this is an angry review
You know how, at some point in high school (or middle school), an English teacher’s told you that you can’t use the word “said” after a line of dialogue? And you’ve been made to write essays and short stories filled with pretentious, unnecessary adverbs and alternatives to “said”?
“Jack said acerbically”
“Mandira attempted pitifully”
This book was exactly like one of these essays. It gave the very distinct impression of someone trying too hard to tell a good story. Which is a shame because, love triangles, douchebag heroes, try-hard language and special snowflakes aside, this could have been good.
Yes, you heard that right. A love triangle. More on that later – back to the writing.
“Don’t let the title fool you, my lady. I’m no one of consequence, even if my father is the highest-ranking general in Khorasan.”
“Well, we share a portion of that lamentable status, for I am also no one of consequence,” Shahrzad said.
“I doubt that, my lady Shahrzad. I highly doubt that.” Jalal grinned, bringing further light to an already easygoing demeanor.
Listen, listen, a few cues are all anyone needs to figure out what a character is thinking. If you show me a Captain of the Guard, who laughs good-naturedly at things everyone else is so uptight about, I’m obviously going to understand that he’s easy-going. There is ABSOLUTELY NO need for you to tell me this a second later. None. It makes the cues redundant, it makes the character’s actions meaningless, and it completely ruins the reading experience. By breaking every little thing down like that, you’re not letting me use my imagination. You’re not letting me picture this in my head. Like, what is even the point?
Don’t fucking tell me. Show me.
She reached up and coiled her wavy black hair into a knot on the nape of her neck. Then she shrugged off her cumbersome mantle and handed it to Despina. A faint desert breeze cooled the bare skin at her arms and stomach. Her fitted silver top had a square neckline and tiny, capped sleeves. A silk sash of cobalt blue hung low across her hips, its pearl-embroidered ends trailing against the ground. Silver slippers kicked up tufts of sand with each step she took.
It was also full of little nuggets like that. Entire paragraphs dedicated to what Shahrzad was wearing at the time. Or what she was eating. I mean, I know details are important, but when every chapter has a section dedicated to telling you what our special snowflake was wearing/eating, it gets old really fast. I don’t care that the stupid blue silk sash at her hips set off her special hazel eyes. I don’t care about the gems on her tum tum. I don’t care about the weird bees-wax concoction she used to stain her lips.
NOW FOR THE ROMANCE.
Another happy little love triangle. Yay. What joy. These haven’t been done to death, no sir. The world could use MOAR LOVE TRIANGLES. AHAHAHAHAHA—NO.
Like, what was even the point of this? The story would have been PERFECTLY FINE if Khalid had been the only love interest. But noooooooooOoo, we needed an angry ex boyfriend, just for the lulz. I mean, where else was the angst going to come from? What other problems could a couple face besides another potential lover?? Impending war??? Dangerous secrets???? THE UPS AND DOWNS OF BEING IN A RELATIONSHIP ??? HAHAHAHA. NO. OF COURSE NOT. THE OBVIOUS CHOICE IS THE LOVE TRIANGLE. #TEAMEDWARD!!!!!
In all fairness, I did think that the relationship between Khalid and Shahrzad did turn out alright towards the latter half of the book. Sure, there were tons of soppy moments, but there were also some nice moments, which I appreciated. I just… I just don’t know HOW they fell in love in the first place. It came out of nowhere. One minute Shehrzad is determined to hate/kill Khalid, and the next minute her heart’s fluttering at the sight of him ??? what the efff?
It seemed to me like they did nothing to deserve each other’s love. At least in the beginning. Sure Shehrzad told him stories, but is that really all it takes to fall in love with someone? She tells me stories to keep me from killing her. Oh my. What beauty, what grace, she’s punched my heart’s face?
And Khalid? He was the only character in this thing that I liked, but I still don’t get what made Shehrzad fall for him. He wasn’t nice to her – not until after they’d gone all gaga for each other. So I’m just really confused as to HOW it happened. Their romance developed well. It just lacks foundation.
You know what I really want to know? I want to know what the flapjack is so special about Shehrzad. By YA heroine standards, she’s not that special. She’s just angry and impulsive. And yeah, okay, you could argue that she’s got spine, but she doesn’t do much with it except talk back to royalty. But for some reason everyone in this book acts like she put the stars in the sky. Why? Because she’s not smart enough to control her tongue? Because she has hate in her special hazel eyes that change color? It’s dumb. She was dumb. She was TSTL. I mean, honestly. I don’t know how she survived that first night. If it were me in Khalid’s shoes, I’d have probably killed her.
And Tariq. Do not even get me started. What an entitled, pigheaded dick. Dude went and staRTED A WAR just because he couldn’t bear the thought of Shahrzad being in love with Khalid. Great job man. You are totally a nice guy. Way to win a girl’s heart. Etc.etc. I was actually skipping every single part with him in it. If the text suddenly switched to Tariq’s POV, I just went LOL NO and moved right on by. I have no time for fuckbois. Fictional or otherwise.
Lastly, Khalid; the only character who didn’t make me want to punch myself in the face. Well, not as much as the others did, in any case. He was… interesting. And had he been written better, as an individual and not just a love interest, I think he could have been a great character. I mean, sure, he’d still be a murderer, but The Darkling was a murderer (and evil) but people still loved the crap out of him. Why? Because_he_was_written_as_an_individual.
Unfortunately for poor Khalid, his backstory and developmental arc for this book played out predictably. Cold, cruel murder king is actually kind, sad boy trying to atone for past mistake. And he’s also cursed!!!
Please. Like no one saw that coming.
As you can see, this was a very frustrating read for me. The only thing keeping me going till the end was my goddamned curiosity. But here’s the thing; this book had potential. If not as an original masterpiece, then at least as an enjoyable, fun read. But this failed its potential. Epically. It’s just basically One Thousand and One Nights, with a love triangle and a shit-ton of exposition chucked in.
And that, kids, is why I am so frigging pissed off.