Fiction · Novels · Reviews

Review: What Strange Paradise

Hi friends and happy Monday – I hope you’re all doing well! Today I’m going to be posting my review of Omar El Akkad’s novel What Strange Paradise.

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This was nominated for the Canada Reads 2022 long list.

What Strange Paradise

What Strange Paradise by: Omar El Akkad: Bodies frequently wash up on the shore of the island, not many of them make the journey, but this time, a nine-year-old boy named Amir does. It’s Vänna, a teenage girl feeling lost within her own home who decides to help Amir and do whatever it takes to rescue him from soldiers who want him dead. This novel was definitely heart breaking in content, but it lacked the full on emotion that came with it. Right from the beginning the reader didn’t quite fully grasp what was going on, then the back and forth between “before” and “after” left them even more confused as to what was happening and when. It took a good while, probably close to a third of the way in, to finally get the plot and who the characters were; once that happened the story flowed more and the reader felt more of a connection to the characters. This was mostly told from the point of view of a little boy as we followed and learned about his life it became a very captivating read. The way this ended though felt a little lackluster, the reader was hoping for more than what was given. As for the characters, they could have been developed a little more; they felt very two dimensional and undeveloped. There wasn’t much that was memorable about them. That aside, the reader still enjoyed the unlikely pair who came together; their odd match somehow worked and the reader truly found their journey together engaging to read. Overall, this was still a good read with an intriguing story and worthwhile, although slightly flat, characters.  

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