I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
BOOK DEPOSITORY // BOOKTOPIA // DYMOCKS // GOODREADS
Fifteen-year-old Muzna Saleem, who dreams of being a writer, struggles with controlling parents who only care about her studying to be a doctor. Forced to move to a new school in South London after her best friend is shamed in a scandal, Muzna realizes that the bullies will follow her wherever she goes. But deciding to stand and face them instead of fighting her instinct to disappear is harder than it looks when there’s prejudice everywhere you turn. Until the gorgeous and confident Arif shows an interest in her, encouraging Muzna to explore her freedom.
But Arif is hiding his own secrets and, along with his brother Jameel, he begins to influence Muzna with their extreme view of the world. As her new freedom starts to disappear, Muzna is forced to question everything around her and make a terrible choice – keep quiet and betray herself, or speak out and betray her heart?
I was provided a free copy of this book by Pan Macmillan Australia in exchange for an honest review – this in no way affects my thoughts though!
Boy, has it been a long time since I’ve sat done to write a blog post – I’ve actually almost forgotten how to do it exactly. But it turns out that finding the time to film videos whilst also juggling a full-time job isn’t technically the easiest thing in the world and so here we are. I think I might continue to write blog posts once in a while because I’ve actually forgotten how nice it is to make content whilst snuggled up in bed, armed with PJs, a messy bun and a hot cup of tea.
But anyway, enough of the chat and onto the real reason why we are here – to share my thoughts on I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan. Just a brief summary first to get started though – this book follows Muzna who’s a teen trying to fit in a world where most everything seems to be going against her. We follow her as she tries to juggle the differing societal expectations of both her British and Pakistani backgrounds, her overprotective parents, her unruly best friend, Islamophobia and, of course, boys.
In order to best summarise my thoughts, I’ve decided to split it up into things I liked and things I didn’t like so let’s just get into it!
- It was an incredibly fast and short read and the subject matter is engaging so you will probably, like me, find yourself flying through the book
- Muzna was a very likeable character and you end up empathizing with her a lot as the books goes along. Yes, she does make some incredibly questionable decisions but I guess the same can be said of any teen her age.
- It had a really good discussion of Islamophobia and fear mongering that has become almost synonymous with today’s society. Muzna is the object of a lot of misplaced anger throughout this book, from various characters, and it provided a good insight into what it might be like for Muslim individuals living in Western countries in today’s political climate.
- Had a very thought-provoking and interesting discussion on extremism and the tactics employed by extremist groups to recruit in foreign countries. I’m not sure how much of this part of the book was based in fact but it was terrifying to see how easily teens were preyed upon.
- I didn’t get along with the writing AT ALL. The author used a very heavy British accent throughout the novel and whilst this might have been an endearing concept, it was executed horribly. At times the dialogue was unbearably cringe inducing and the characters so two-dimensional that it become hard to read. This is a debut novel, and therefore the author should be given some benefit of the doubt but it really could have done with some stronger editing.
- Whilst I do think the author did a good job in discussion Islamophobia, I think they choose to focus on the most extreme instances of religious intolerance for effect and ignored the more subtle microaggressions that occur everyday. Whilst I do not discount or diminish the experiences Muzna faced, I do think the whole discussion could have used a little more nuance.
- I would have loved to see more of some the secondary characters who I felt were often introduced and then pushed to the side, quickly forgotten. One of these characters was Khadijah who genuinely seemed like such an interesting figure and one that had a significant impact on Muzna’s life and so the fact that she was only included for a few scenes continues to puzzle me.
In the end, I think I Am Thunder had an interesting concept but a poor execution. Despite this book probably not being for me, it is #OwnVoices for Pakistani and Muslim representation and has the potential to do wonders for teens looking for such representation in books.
I’ve linked a few #OwnVoices reviews down below so make sure to check them out!