We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya #1) by Hafsah Faizal
My rating: three stars
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Goodreads Summary: People lived because she killed. People died because he lived. Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be. War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine. Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.
This book was one of the Barnes and Nobles YA Book of the Month picks which is why I picked it up. I originally hadn’t heard much about it, but after reading the summary I was definitely intrigued.
Likes: The storyline was so unique, I was extremely interested in reading it after seeing the summary. I love the idea of a forest that is expanding so quickly it will eventually take over the whole land – and only one girl can enter it. The Arab elements really taught me a lot – for I have not read many books with them. The different clothing, food, and landscape really immersed me into the book. I love learning about different cultures and this book is perfect for that (if you don’t mind using Google, I will discuss this later). I honestly did like the love aspect to it – even though the characters and relationships were extremely frustrating. The descriptions of the world and surroundings were great, I could picture everything! There were so many fantastical elements and Hafsah did a wonderful job of creating the world.
Dislikes: There was no glossary or anything to translate the foreign words, food, and clothing. Since I do love learning about different cultures I am not satisfied with just skipping over words that I don’t know and just assuming what they are. I want to know the meaning of the words, what the food has in it, and what the articles of clothing look like. I usually wouldn’t mind searching around for this information, but it really got in the way of my reading at the beginning because I would have to stop and research in the middle of the story. A friend eventually did show me that there is an online glossary for the book, but until then it was a little frustrating. Another thing was the style of writing. I know Hafsah is a relatively new writer, but her way of writing was a little rushed. As stated before, I really liked the idea of the love between the main characters. However, it seemed forced, and a little unrealistic due to events that happen early in the story. I would think these events would cause the main character to not want anything to do with Nasir, but it doesn’t faze her as much as I think it would in real life. People’s reactions as a whole seemed unrealistic and seemed changed to make the story go along. I like when I can actually imagine characters as real people, but it was difficult for this story.
Overall I gave this story three out of five stars. The confusion with a lack of a glossary made it difficult to get into the story smoothly which made it slower in the beginning and caused me to not get as invested in the story. Then the character decisions not being realistic also took me out of the story and made it unbelievable. I did like the book, and I think most of the things I didn’t enjoy could be fixed as the author gains more experience, so I would recommend as long as the reader realizes that she is a newer author and has the glossary website pulled up somewhere.