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“Life is both sweet and cruel to strong-willed young Shabanu, whose home is the windswept Cholistan Desert of Pakistan. The second daughter in a family with no sons, she’s been allowed freedoms forbidden to most Muslim girls. But when a tragic encounter with a wealthy and powerful landowner ruins the marriage plans of her older sister, Shabanu is called upon to sacrifice everything she’s dreamed of. Should she do what is necessary to uphold her family’s honor—or listen to the stirrings of her own heart?”

Sounds like my type of book. It sounded so perfect. It could have been a romance novel with a doomed fate set-up or it could have been about girl power and standing up for herself. Instead the book fell flat. I spent most of the book waiting for the plot to feel like it was going somewhere. The plot never picks up. Maybe the plot will feel like it is happening in the next book, but I will not bother reading it. I already spent a few hours on this book to feel completely let down.

The plot of the book literally takes half the book to surface. Shabanu’s sister is supposed to marry someone, but then a group of men try to buy Shabanu and her sister. The future husband then tries to defend the girls from the terrible man and dies. So now Shabanu has to marry or her family will not be OK. Instead she runs away from home with her camel friends. She is caught and submits herself to a life in a loveless marriage. This plot could have been fun, but it never captivated my interest, nor did it ever feel like it was moving. The book just felt like I was reading a very monotonous day to day journal of a young girl. I never felt connected to the character or her problems, I never cared about the character or her problems. The author does a wonderful job making a very unfeeling novel and one where the life of a camel herder seems more interesting than a story about family identity.

The stirrings of Shabanu’s heart are those of camels instead of those for a man. That was an interesting twist, but it was downplayed because of the amount of drama surrounding the dead future husband of her sister and the man trying to destroy her family because he couldn’t buy the girls. It seems to fit the character more that there was no interest in other people, instead she just wanted to herd camel and train them to dance.

The book itself is not written in a way that is difficult to read, but the book drags on. It took me over a day to read it and it was a YA fiction that wasn’t particularly long. I found myself falling asleep during the beginning and middle of the book. Though I did feel relieved when I finished the book because I had wanted to finish it and I was borrowing it from a friend. That feeling of relief was the only real feeling I felt during the reading of this book.

It was interesting to read a book about another culture, but so much of that was glossed over. This book may have been a better book if it were written for adults or if it weren’t a series so you could actually justify the plot being as slow as it was or so the plot would actually happen.

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1 out of 5 stars. I do not suggest this book.

You can purchase this book here.

~Isaiah

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