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?
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Source: LibraryIf only this book could have continued the way it started.
I have to give Renee Ahdieh credit for trying to bring together a very complex culture, one not well explored in YA. If my ancestors didn't hail from the ancient Persian country of Khorasan, I doubt I would have known about it so it's great to see it be explored for once. I do have to say that the amount of exploration was quite limited. I don't have any image beyond a grand palace in my head but to be fair most of the book was set in this palace. Still, it leaves more to be desired.
Come to think of it, many aspects of this story leaves more to be desired. For the first time in a long time, a debut novel blared its imperfections and roughness to me. It caught me off guard, especially with the rave reviews everyone's thrown around about this book.
First there was the jumping narratives. I'm a sceptic with narratives that jump between more than 2 people so it's understandable when I wasn't enjoying them. But by the end, I didn't even understand the reason for them. Jahandar and Tariq were these two stubborn, dull and flat characters that embody the YA character version of men who think they know what is best for a woman. Neither had much backstory to even deserve a portion of the narrative and their great quest ended in an anticlimactic 10 page abrupt end. Ugh, that ending.
Unfortunately, Jahandar and Tariq weren't the only pointless and bland side characters. All of the side characters were 8 by 11inch paper flat. Shiva who's death sparks the whole entire plot was a distant ghost of a friend who stood by our protagonist when her mother died. Great. Lets all repay our friends with our lives since we have many of them. To make me even more agitated, Shahrzad's plan of attack was to find a plan of attack... so exciting.
Then comes the bane of my existence characters: Jalal and Shahrzad's handmaiden who's name slips my mind and who's importance ranks below a google search. These two were the most obviously positioned and "tell not show" developed characters I've read in a while. They had convenient positions in both Shahrzad and Khalid's lives to drop unmasked revelations that were used as plot progression tools.
After that little rant it may surprise you if I said that I was actually enjoying this at a 4star level up to around 70% of the way through. Most of this is attributed to Shahrzad and Khalid, who I actually liked. I loved the story telling addition which was done really well and one of my complaints is that it wasn't continued. For a story of 1001 nights, the story telling ended way too early.
Also, something that really stood out for me was the incorporation of marriage and its consummation which I thought Ahdieh did a really good job handling.
Overall, I'm quite broken up about this book. I have so much to complain about because I felt like my enjoyment level was inclining and then suddenly it plummeted. Also, what the heck was that ending? Action action, the end. Meh.