Friday, June 28, 2019

Review: WE HUNT THE FLAME by Hafsah Faizal

Rating: 2/5 stars

Zafira is the Hunter. Her job is to venture to Sharr and acquire a certain book that will bring magic back to the land. Nasir is the prince and an assassin. His job is to follow the Hunter to Sharr and take the book once she finds it and then kill her.

Unfortunately I just . . . didn’t care?

I read We Hunt the Flame for the young adult book club that I’m moderating at my work, and I likely wouldn’t have read it otherwise as the story did not really appeal to me. I tried to go in with an open mind but when I reached page 100 and still wasn’t connecting with the characters or caring about the story, I knew I would have a rough time continuing. And it isn’t even until a third of the way through the book that the plot starts, so it felt to me like there was a lot of unnecessary prose that just dragged me down.

The plot itself isn’t wholly original either, and it’s also rather predictable. It’s no surprise the prince doesn’t want to be the assassin (do I need to mention again that I’m tired of reading about soft assassins that don’t actually assassinate anyone?) and that he falls in love with Zafira and doesn’t want to kill her, the exact person he’s been sent to kill. And it’s no surprise that Zafira likes him back and is conflicted about her feelings because he’s an assassin. The story was also excruciatingly slow even while listening to the audiobook, which is rare because audiobooks usually speed up a story. But also, the female narrator’s voice kept switching tones and I swear I thought there were two different female narrators because of how much her voice changed, and it threw me off every time; it was very distracting.

This book is inspired by ancient Arabia and included Arabic words mixed into the narrative. I have no issue with a secondary language being used as emphasis or to describe certain events in a story, but I do not think Arabic was incorporated very well in We Hunt the Flame. It only added confusion when I would come across them, and I had to stop at every new encounter to pull up the online dictionary and pronunciation guide just to know what was happening.

One thing I did like about this book is that it has a clean romance. It seems like every YA book these days features sex scenes or at least alludes to them, but this book didn’t and I greatly appreciated that. I can’t say if that will change for the rest of the books in the series but at least this one was clean. I also liked that the chapters were super short. I love short chapters. Other than that though, there wasn’t anything that stood out that I liked.

Overall I don’t think We Hunt the Flame is really worth the read. Other than the ties to Arabic culture, it’s just another basic young adult fantasy with a reused plotline that doesn’t add anything new to the genre. I will not be continuing on with this series because I don’t care what happens to the characters in the next book, and I honestly thought this book could have been a standalone story if a few things at the end were tweaked just a bit, but of course it’s going to be a series instead. This book has been very popular and enjoyed by many, but it wasn’t for me.

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