Review: The Battle (The Gauntlet #2)

Review: The Battle (The Gauntlet #2)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

*I received a copy via the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

Years after The Gauntlet, the Architect returns with a new partner, MasterMind, to take revenge on the Mirza family. Now twelve-years-old, Ahmad Mirza must face their latest creation, The Battle. Ahmad is forced back by the Architect to a brand new Paheli. A slicker and more modern update raises the stakes, and with New York frozen in time, Ahmad must beat the game again before it beats him.  

Like the first book, the story is structured around three challenges that Ahmad and Winnie must complete to defeat MasterMind’s game. Riazi again gives readers not much time as our characters must rush all over the city of Paheli. Ahmad remembers little from his past adventure, so he’s just as confused as Winnie is. What definitely carries on the from the debut is the fast-paced mix of monsters and high-stakes battles for survival. I loved the descriptions of the new Paheli, it’s an entirely new landscape with some familiarity with Ahmad and returning readers. The world-building of the novel and game design shines through. The old Paheli isn’t there anymore, but parts of it still manage to linger with a more significant emphasis on the steampunk design this time around. I enjoyed the level of detail given to the setting. I’m obviously not the intended audience, but this book is good fun, full of action and adventure.

A similar issue I had with The Gauntlet was the disparity in characterisation between the lead, now Ahmad, and its secondary characters. The Battle introduces Ahmad’s classmate, Winnie, as his companion into Paheli. Throughout the novel, you really get a feel for Ahmad and watch him grown as a person, but Winnie is not as fully developed. She’s a smart and confident girl but doesn’t really impact the story as much you’d expect and felt like a paper character meant to just tag along with Ahmad.

Overall, I have no doubt that younger readers will enjoy the new Paheli landscape with high-rise landscapes, flying cars and familiar faces. A surprising reveal at the end makes me wonder where the future of Paheli could lead.  I personally didn’t enjoy The Battle that much which is quite disappointing, especially when I adored the first one. I absolutely loved The Gauntlet, but its sequel doesn’t match up with the magic of its predecessor. It is a solid and fascinating return but to those who loved the world created before may be disappointed by its execution.


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Best books I’ve read in 2018!

Best books I’ve read in 2018!

Today’s post is a recap for some of the books I had enjoyed this year. My top 18 reads of 2018!

I managed to read 102 books this year, and I’m very impressed with myself. I was ridiculously busy with university and work, this year, I was really worried that I wouldn’t be able to complete the challenge I set for myself. I usually set my goal around 50 because it’s more attainable for me, and since last year, I had a really bad reading year, I wanted to do better.

I guess I did do better this year since I managed to read more, but I didn’t read differently this year. I want to read more than just Young Adult novels and I want to try going into Adult fiction and other areas of books that I otherwise wouldn’t have touched. But I was set back a lot by university which meant I just ended up reading what I requested on NetGalley or my backlist. But I do want to branch out for 2019 and read more differently and diversely.

So, without further ado, my top 18 reads of 2018! (In no particular order!)

  1. The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf

A music-loving teen with OCD does everything she can to find her way back to her mother during the historic race riots in 1969 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in this heart-pounding literary debut.

All I can say for now is: Emotional and stunning. I’m part of the blog tour for this in February so catch my review and playlist for this book then!

  • A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

I know I said I didn’t have an exactly number one favourite this year, but Expanse is the one that hit the highest. I wasn’t exactly impressed by the Shatter Me series, at least, not until the latest release, but Expanse blew me away. For years, I hadn’t touched anything Tahereh Mafi wrote because I didn’t like Shatter Me when it first came out. But this book changed everything. I adore Tahereh on social media, but now I’m a huge fan of her work. | my review

  • Sadie by Courtney Summers

A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind.

This book was pure greatness. It was so much fun to read, especially the audiobook, since it plays out like a podcast as well. Part mystery, part drama. All round pretty good read. | my review

  • Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility

Schwab has been on my to-read list for years. Even before I started this blog, and I finally managed to find time to read at least one of her books this year and I’m glad it was Vicious. It was such a surprise to read and so much fun. I never wanted to not stop reading a book as much as this one. | my review

Continue reading “Best books I’ve read in 2018!”

Review: The Gauntlet

Review: The Gauntlet

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Barely adjusting to her new home in the Upper East Side, Bangladeshi-American kid Farah finds herself sucked into the game of The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand after her younger brother, Ahmad, vanishes into the game. Alongside her friends, she must complete three challenges and failure to win will trap them- and Ahmad- forever.

I’ve been anticipating this book since Salaam Reads was first announced. And I can definitely confirm that this book was so worth the wait.

I really, really enjoyed the world building and game design. The way the story is mapped out is really brilliant. I hope to, maybe, see a graphic novel of this series somewhere down the line because of the Middle Eastern and South Asian influences Raizi had made a very dazzling and creative world. The way the world moves in pieces like a game was so pretty to imagine.

Farah is pretty headstrong and a loveable lead who is very aware of her own weaknesses. She’s constantly struggled with her want to ditch the challenge in search of her brother versus her need to navigate her and her friends out of the game. And she works alongside her friends to complete each challenge. Their friendship is very cute and they work well together, recognising each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They’re all very intuitive and logical in situations that would have me in tears. (ahah)

I think the only downside was the lack of characterisation for Essie and Alex. Farah’s character comes out really strongly and the other two do come across as being more archetypes rather than their own persons. Also, its cultural aspects were so adorable and great to read. While the world seems almost alien to her friends, Essie and Alex, Farah finds familiarity in it and so did I. I wished this book existed when I was a kid.

Overall, it’s a solid fantasy debut in an exciting game world. At its heart, a story of family and friendship, making it a great for any young readers.


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