8 June 2018

Review #714: I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“These terrorists are the antithesis of Islam. They’re not Muslim. Violence has no place in religion, and the terrorists are responsible for their own crimes, not the religion and not us.”

----Samira Ahmed

Muhammad Khan, a British author, has penned a very intriguing debut YA novel called, I Am Thunder that revolves around a teenage Muslim girl living with her parents in Britain where everyday she wakes up to find a new challenge or bully to overcome with, but her life drastically changes when her family moves to different part of the city and she is admitted to a posh school, and there she meets a charming Muslim boy. Little did she knew that behind that charming smile, a sinister motive is awaiting for her and that would not only ruin her life but would ruin the lives of millions of souls, if not taken care of.


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?

A stunning new YA voice which questions how far you'll go to protect what you believe in.

Muzna has forever embraced and accepted bullying and judgement on her looks and dressing sense among her peers, but when she moves to South London along with her family and gets admitted to a posh school, she realizes that its high time to stand up against bullying since she is now prohibited to talk to her bestie who was involved in a shameful act. And when she meets the most good looking boy of her class, named, Arif, she realizes for the first time that she too has a chance in love and more than that. Little did she knew that the innocent looking boy who lives with his radical and religious extremist brother named Jameel, would manipulate her in the name of Allah. And she needs to not only save herself but a million other lives, before its too late. But can she, when she is head-over-heels in love with Arif?

The author's writing style is fresh and is laced with humor, suspense and drama. The dialogues are realistic and the author have vividly portrayed the voice of a 15-year old Muslim girl in Britain, so much so, that the readers will be able to easily contemplate with the modern day language used by the youngsters. The pacing is really fast, as the readers will be instantly sucked into the flow of the story and the action, and will keep them glued till the very end.

The characters in this book are very well developed with enough honesty in the demeanor. The main character, Muzna, is an extraordinary young girl, who is pushed into a world full of challenges, nasty remarks about her facial hair, and constant bullying, yet she gradually picks herself up with the help of a friend, who in the end uses her for his own sinister purposes. Although the story is based mainly upon religious extremists ideals and its flaws, yet somehow, it felt like most of the time, the author tried to shed light of the cheesy romance between Arif and Muzna and the climax is way too dramatic.

In a nutshell, its a solid and engrossing book about modern day challenges and religious issues that is faced by almost every other Muslim in a foreign country.

Verdict: An enthralling YA story centered around terrorism and bullying.

Author Info:
Muhammad Khan is a maths teacher in a secondary school in Tooting and takes his inspiration from the children he teaches, as well as his own upbringing as a British-born Pakistani. He lives in South London and will be studying for a creative writing MA next year at Roehampton.
Visit him here

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