Reviews: “The Wrath & the Dawn” by Renee Ahdieh & “First & Then” by Emma Mills

Boom boom! Knocking these hyped books off my reading list one by one! 🙂 Lots of thanks to my local library (they deserve a blog post of their own soon) for also providing audiobooks. I never knew how much I could listen to on a drive to and from work. XD

Today I review the very hyped The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, whose sequel releases on the 26th of this month and First & Then by Emma Mills, which claims to be  Pride and Prejudice meets “Friday Night Lights” thing (can’t say this is true because I’ve never watched “Friday Night Lights” so…)

Keep reading for spoiler-free reviews! 🙂

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Title: The Wrath and the Dawn
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Length:  395 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Young adult, historical fiction, fantasy
Synopsis: (taken from Goodreads) “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?”

My rating: 2.5/5 stars

Sigh. I wanted to like this more, I did. With all the hype surrounding this book (and it’s sequel) I expected to be blown out of the water. Truthfully, I was…conflicted. I had so many questions and still do because they haven’t been answered! What the heck!

First off, it really did take me a while even to be interested in this book. I don’t know if it’s because I listened to the audiobook but… There were many things I didn’t understand and I didn’t feel connected to the characters at all. I’m a girl that likes background information on characters and this story jumped right into Shahrzad’s marriage to the king, Khalid. Khalid himself was such a mystery, and eventually I began questioning why Shahrzad was even falling in love with him.

Where?! Why?! How?! Those were my main questions.

When I did eventually find out what Khalid had to kill all those brides, I sympathized and understood but that still didn’t help me grasp why the two characters love each other. Also, there’s just brief mention of some sort of magic Sharhrzad may possess and it was just…meh. I’m a fantasy girl at heart and I need that explored.

Another note: Tariq is a jerk and a douchebag.

Also, what was the point of Despina? … Not quite sure yet… Not sure at all about her as a character.

I’m not super sure I’ll read the sequel, The Rose and the Dagger but… I can’t leave a series unfinished so there’s a small chance I will… But it’s definitely on the back burner for now.

****

I also finished up this adorable contemporary novel that I have to share with you all because I loved it even though I really dislike contemporaries.

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Title: First & Then
Author: Emma Mills
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Length: 267 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Synopsis: (taken from Goodreads) “Devon Tennyson wouldn’t change a thing. She’s happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon’s cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn’t want them: first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets “Friday Night Lights” in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.”

My rating: (I surprised myself) 4/5 stars!

Okay, so there is a reason I don’t like contemporary novels, regardless of other genres: 1) I find them incredibly cliche, 2) I’m rolling my eyes just about every five seconds or every time I read a chapter, 3) Sometimes there’s odd amounts of sexual tension, which can be slightly understandable but still… Not my cup of tea.

But Mills’s First & Then is not cliche. Okay, so maybe it is a little bit but it was enough to make me say, “I love this contemporary novel!” Because it’s true, I do. Honestly, I was so close to not finishing it because I didn’t feel connected to the characters. But I pushed on through and I’m glad I did.

I can see the slight comparison to Pride and Prejudice but I’ve never seen “Friday Night Lights” (it’s a show about football…right?). The main character, Devon, does have a penchant for Jane Austen novels (mostly Sense & Sensibility) and it’s cute to see the way Ezra took such an interest in Dev that he even read the book!

That’s another reason I love this book: Dev and Ezra’s interest in each other was slow burning. Their banters were adorable and his growing relationship with Foster was nice to see because I think it helped Devon come to terms with her relationship to Foster as well.

This is a relatively short book and it’s a stand-alone so it can be finished rather quickly.

****

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

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3 thoughts on “Reviews: “The Wrath & the Dawn” by Renee Ahdieh & “First & Then” by Emma Mills

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