Today I am pleased to FINALLY be able to talk about this book to the world and I am so honoured to be a part of the blog tour! I Am Thunder is an #ownvoices novel for Muslim and Pakistani representation and Muhammad Khan has a very personal reason for writing this which made me extremely sad upon reading the author’s note!
Below is my review and there is also a giveaway as well! I’ll be hosting a giveaway open to Australians with a finished copy of I Am Thunder kindly provided by Pan Macmillan! Simple check out my Twitter @TaneikaReads and see the pinned tweet for details 🙂
Pinned tweet can be found here
You must be aged 18 or older to enter OR have parental/guardian permission as I will need your mailing address to send your prize!
Thankyou so much to Pan Macmillan for sending me an ARC for review and for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour!
I received this book for free from Pan Macmillan Australia in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I Am Thunder is an own voices story about a Pakistani and Muslim girl named Muzna who is just trying to fit in and deal with her controlling, overprotective parents. Muzna just wants to try and fit into her new high school while also dealing with her controlling, overprotective parents, boys, Islamophobia and figuring out what it means to her to be of both Pakistani AND British backgrounds.
Muzna dreams of being a novelist one day and wants to write stories that represent girls like her, however her parents have different plans for Muzna and want her to be a doctor instead. After her best friend is involved in a scandal, Muzna’s parents move her to a new school which is where the story really starts to unfold. Muzna soon finds herself being led down the dark path of extremism from the other Muslim boy at school (who also happens to be really hot) and she must decide whether to stay quiet or speak out.
This novel had incredible impact and I loved how it delved into so many hard topics like HOW a young girl might be lured into becoming an extremist in the first place, it explores Islamophobia, how culture and religion can be separated and how there isn’t just “one type” of Muslim.
I loved Muzna as a character and while I wished she didn’t beat herself up so much about things like her appearance or body shape (there is a LOT of self loathing when it comes to her weight), I found her to be so likeable and I really wanted the best for her. I felt SO SORRY for her in many circumstances and seeing her feel so torn between so many different things really tugged at my heartstrings. She’s so incredibly smart despite failing to see that for herself, and her passion coupled with her vulnerability were some of my favourite things.
This book was SO FAST PACED and took me no time at all to finish! I love how easy it was to read along and the last 100 or so pages alone were a RIDE (the ending had me on the edge of my seat). However in saying that, the first few years we see of Muzna go by SO QUICKLY and I feel like there are a lot of super significant life events that felt shoved aside a little too fast and I would’ve loved to be able to explore more of those to get some more character development (it was a bit tell rather than show). The writing itself really improved as the story progresses, however I found some of the similes/metaphors to be a little bit… jarring for me personally.
(These quotes are from an advanced reader copy and are subject to change in the final book!)
P. 106 “He flashed his metallic smile, bouncing a red and black basketball like a yo-yo”
P. 209 “Suddenly my throat felt studded with drawing pins”
P. 213 “Stomach lurching like a sack of wet oats, I knocked on her door and entered”
They weren’t necessarily super bad per se, but I found whenever a sentence like this cropped up, it drew me out of the story.
As for the actual dialogue, it is extremely packed with British slang (presumably school slang as the author is a teacher!) and while a lot of it is different to Australian slang, it feels super authentic and not forced teenager speak which is something I really appreciated!
One of my favourite things about this book was how it tackles Islamophobia. It explores extremism and how people are groomed to join extremist groups and it also tackles every day prejudice. There was one particular scene that takes place on a bus shortly after Muzna decides to start wearing a hijab which I could sadly picture perfectly because you see or hear of this kind of shit happening ALL THE TIME. It’s the everyday kind of abuse that white people typically inflict on others who are demonised in the media (you know, like Muslims!) and it made me so sad to read and I almost cried.
Overall while I had a few issues with the writing and the fast pace at the very beginning of the book (the rest of the pacing was great!), I loved I Am Thunder and can see this being an incredibly thought provoking book. I really hope this book helps bring forth positive discussions and it personally made me laugh as well as cry and I had such a good time reading it!