Why I Didn’t Love The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

March 25, 2016 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 2 stars, Books, Reviews

Why I Didn’t Love The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee AhdiehThe Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on May 12th 2015
Source: Purchased
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tales & Folklore
Amazon | Book Depository | Angus & Robertson
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One Life to One Dawn.
In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all.
Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?
Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.

After hearing all the raves on The Wrath and the Dawn, I wanted to love it so much. But why do I have to overthink things? Why can’t I just enjoy a story for what it is? There were so many things that irked me about this book.

Let’s start with the good bit. The sumptuous, atmospheric Arabian nights setting was written beautifully. From desert sands, to sultans and tzars, guards with scimitars and a magical atmosphere filled with spiced wines and delicate fashions. While I haven’t read the original 1,001 Nights before, I absolutely adored the setting here. The writing was also done beautifully, atmospheric and scenic. Every sentence made me picture hot winds blowing through the desert and a world of Arabic finery and sultans.

Then let’s get to Shahrzad. I LOVED her sharp tongue, her charisma and her wit. Her bold personality was so refreshing against a backdrop where women are subservient and come second. I loved how her arrogance and bravery could match any of the men in the story, which is why they welcomed her so quickly.

But I had issues with her characterisation. Shahrzad is a girl who puts herself in utmost danger, by marrying a monster to avenge her dead best friend and countless other women who have been murdered before her. That I can really get behind.

This boy-king, this murderer…she would not permit him to destroy another family. To rob another girl of her best friend – of a lifetime filled with memories that had been and never would be. 

But soon, her disgust turns into conflicted thoughts on why Khalid chooses to keep her alive. The thing is, Shahrzad doesn’t really have a plan when it comes to revenge, and as a result, gets way too emotionally invested in the murderer of her best friend.  She not only gets amnesia for why she’s there in the first place, but develops concern and care over this serious, sombre boy king with secrets.

TWATD

You know how much I hate Stockholm’s Syndrome, and that’s exactly what happens her, despite her supposedly strong characterisation. But she doesn’t use that bond to her advantage. Instead she takes it upon herself to discover these secrets so she can make a better judge of his character, and make sense of the feelings she has for him.

Shahrzad’s fatal flaw is her pride. While I enjoyed her feisty personality and sharp remarks, there were a few things that could be put down to irrationality and ill judgement simply to preserve her ego. She puts down the Sultan in front of the entire kingdom because she does not want to be bested. That insolence is not without its’ repercussions, and you can just see the dire consequences brewing. Throughout the book, she stomps around, her feelings hurt when people upset her. “Don’t you do that to me. Don’t you walk around from me without acknowledging me. Don’t you treat me like that in front of my handmaiden and my guard.” Underneath all that bravado, is just a girl who just wants approval. 

“…I could see her daring a cobra to strike, swearing her venom would kill first.” 

There’s an alternate perspective with Tariq, who is rallying his group to overthrow the kingdom and save Shahrzad. Tariq and Shahrzad are childhood lovers, but unfortunately, there wasn’t any development or reminiscence here at all. He just ends up being an annoying interference, due to the romance between Shahrzad and her captor. If Tariq was the hero of the story, could you see how upsetting this ultimate betrayal of his childhood lover would be for him? For Shahrzad to leave wanting vengeance, and to be seen in love with his cousin’s murderer. This goes against the entire grain of her character – someone who’s supposed to be strong and steadfast in her resolve.

Unlike many others, I was not swayed by Khalid. He had his reasons for murdering masses of women, but how is one life more important than any others (especially the lives of women?? I mean are they more disposable or something)? How can you build the trust of your kingdom when you whisk away their daughters and kill them without any reasoning…even if it’s for the greater good? How can you develop a romance built upon secrets? I couldn’t love a man who I couldn’t trust, or whose actions I didn’t agree with. I just don’t understand how Shahrzad did.

The romantic development wasn’t very convincing either. I can kind of see how Shahrzad’s notions of encountering a bloodthirsty murderer could have challenged her foundations when she realised he wasn’t a complete ass. But for Khalid, all of a sudden he’s spouting off beautiful renditions of love, love is just a small facet of how he feels for Shahrzad, but for what? Because she tells him stories, like his mother used to? Because he likes the woman to wear the pants? Where was the development? Throw us a bone, please.

TWATD2

“You are – remarkable. Every day, I think I am going to be surprised by how remarkable you are, but I am not. Because this is what it means to be you. It means knowing no bounds. Being limitless in all that you do.” 

Let’s also talk about the awkward consummation of their marriage, which I had to read multiple times to make sure I got the story straight. It happens within the first few chapters of the book, twice. No amount of passionless, brushing over and fading into black will make these scenes okay for me. Because Shahrzad gives herself over to him, and lets him do whatever she wants with her body, when she still thinks he’s a monster. She does this to gain his trust. Although it was for the greater good, it just felt so awkward and uncomfortable. Especially when she starts to look forward to it later when she actually develops feelings for him.

For someone who I assume is a virgin, how can you never ever give ANY thought to this whatsoever? How can you have your virginity taken away from you, in a way that you didn’t want, and not have a problem with it? I don’t have a problem with sex in YA, but I have a problem with how it meant absolutely nothing to her, or how it was portrayed to the reader. It just painted a sad truth that no matter how feisty and strong you are, you can still have your body taken away from you. And that’s just the sad truth when it comes to being a woman. Although she consented, her reasons for doing it were just heart breaking.

Apparently Shahrzad is the only girl who Khalid has done this to before, which I find extremely hard to believe. He didn’t know her from a bar of soap at the start of the book, so what changed his mind when it came to this? What was so special about her that he would do this to her but not anyone else? Does no one else find this awkward and glossed over?

The ending to The Wrath of the Dawn ramps up a bit too quickly and randomly, and before you know it, it ends on a massive cliffhanger. It was rather frustrating especially with limited build up, and I can just see it setting the scene for a long and drawn out sequel. I’ll probably read it, but not without reservations.

“You’re arrogant.” – Shahrzad.
“As you are, my lady Shahrzad. But I do not see this as a shortcoming. For without a measure of arrogance, how can one attempt the impossible?” – Despina 

epiloguepink

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy The Wrath and the Dawn. I loved the setting, the retelling, and the beautiful writing. But the romance between Shahrzad and Khalid was not something that I shipped, and the inconsistencies with their characters and the way the sex was presented was not something I could overcome. I’m still looking for that perfect Middle Eastern book…but nothing’s matched A Thousand Splendid Suns for me so far.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Jeann-Sig

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Jeann is an Aussie blogger, gamer, reader who loves to read, write, fangirl, geek out and eat food. You can find me glued to one of my many mobile devices 24/7, or fangirling over the latest YA book, TV show, movie or game. Chat with me on Twitter @happyindulgence

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75 responses to “Why I Didn’t Love The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

  1. Nemertes

    I agree with your review so much. Khalid's love didn't make sense to me. Why did he choose her, what made her so special from the beginning, before getting to know her? I enjoyed Shahrzad's character, but she was so annoying some times.
    For me the absence of feelings when it came to her first time having sex didn't matter. She obviously experienced trauma (she felt like it was an out of body experience, she wasn't there to feel it, I think it hardy mattered to her as her first time), but god. WHY.MAKE.HER.SIXTEEN. why. Is it SO important to the story? Why not make her 18+ and Khalid 20+ if you want an age difference? It made me so uncomfortable. Shahrzad's thoughts and mind was not of an 16 year old's either. Expect for the moments you mentioned where her pride is too strong and behaves like a child. Overall, I still can't get over the fact that you read about a sixteen year old getting married to get slaughtered, developing feelings for her enemy, who had sex with her on their wedding night, but oh, she must feel special because it was ONLY her. That's my biggest issue with the book.

    Thank you for sharing your review!

  2. Oh that's what really confused me about this book, which is that Khalid actually met with her the first time around. Like why didn't he meet with the other girls? Why didn't he just let her be killed like the other girls without meeting her? What CHANGED?

    Overall I liked The Wrath and the Dawn, but I'm not really crazily looking forward to the Rose and the Dagger. I didn't see the problems with it until you pointed them out, so I'm glad that I'm made aware of it now! Though to be honest, I didn't really think much of my virginity hahah. I mean, I didn't go out having one night stands to get rid of it haha, I just…didn't care much maybe? Though I do have to agree this situation is much different haha.
    My recent post ARC Review: The Way I Used To Be

    • Exactly, like why is she suddenly a special snowflake? There was no development over that whatsoever. I don't mind reading the sequel, but yeah so many problems regardless lol. Fair enough Val!

  3. Eri

    When I read this, I admittedly fell in love with the atmospheric beauty of this book, and I loved it, even if I was aware of the flaws you described so well here. I think if I reread this one, I would be more inclined to be critical, so thank you for this honest review I think it did a good job of staying detached from the hype this book has buzzing around it!
    My recent post Cloudy Musings #1 : Romance, Betrayal, and Danger

    • I loved the atmosphere and the food and setting, but yes while reading it I was really wary because of the hype too. Thanks Eri!

  4. I’ve seen so many positive reviews on this book, it was interesting to read you take on it, Jeann! From what I gathered this book is centered on the romance, since it didn’t work for you, I can understand your feelings. Also this is the first time I’ve heard about sexual encounters between main characters, and I think it would make me uncomfortable. Great thought-provoking review, Jeann!
    My recent post How to blog if you read various genres?

  5. aentee @ read at midnight

    Oh my gosh, I have to confess I kinda dig this book even though I had so much problems with characterisation. The same ones you did, actually! Sharzad's character was so inconsistent, all I want to kill him in one chapter – and then swooning over him in the next. I also did not get the appeal of her stories at all – they were dead boring and if I were Khalid she would have died after the first night tbh. Butttt…. Khalid spews up some good cheese, I love his sweet nothings and I am still weirdly invested in their relationship – even though I had trouble believing how they got there – if that makes sense.

    The way they dealt with sex was also sort of.. non-existent. She went from having no emotional connection to having emotional connection during the act with little acknowledgement. The fact that she just woke up after the first night all dandy was quite strange to me. I wonder why the author never chose to acknowledge it, there's so much to be explored there.

    Go you for posting up such a frank review of this <3

    • Yeah, I loved the food and the atmosphere and setting, but unfortunately the romance and Sharzhad just grinded on the nerves one too many times. I just felt so frustrating and yes, what's with the fascination with her? I never picked it up! Oh man, his cheese was so hefty *shudders*. Lol I kind of get what you mean though. The sex part really bothered me here because of not acknowledging it and then suddenly looking forward to it? Like wtf?

  6. I rarely have any problems with Stockholm Syndrome, per se. My misgivings with this book stem from my inability to empathize with the characters. I think it's time I give up the fight, since this has been fermenting in my currently reading shelf forever and a day. Give or take. Lol.

  7. Aww, I am so sorry that this didn't work for you! I mean, I loved it. BUT I totally see your points too. I think I just took certain things in a different way, maybe? (Which I suppose is why we have different opinions bwhah) But Tariq.. he IS just an interference, and I worry that he is going to be all over the sequel, blah. And the sex thing, yeah, definitely awkward- I was really unsure of the book at that point tbh. For me, I think it almost though kind of proved that she was willing to do whatever it took to stay alive? I mean, it's a sad truth that things like that happen- though I guess it's weird then because she falls in love with him, so I do totally get your point! Very lovely review, and I hope that if you do read TRatD, it is better for you!
    My recent post All that Glitters!

    • Yeah, Tariq was an interference but for me I really emphasised with his character because I could see where he was coming from. If the book was written from his perspective things would be very different. That sex thing was just really uncomfortable and I was angry to see that it wasn't developed later in the novel. And yes, she did whatever it took, but then forgot about her mission? It was just not developed well for me! Thanks lovely, I will read it 🙂

  8. Jade @ Bedtime Bookworm

    I've been putting off reading this for so long because of the hype! I attempted to read A Thousand Nights and DNFed it with similar problems you mentioned here but also other things for that book. I'm hoping to enjoy this but I'm nervous about it! I can totally understand why you had trouble shipping that romance and makes me nervous for myself haha. Thanks for the honest review!!
    My recent post Attack on Titan Vol 1 & 2 by Hajime Isayama

    • Yup, I totally know how you feel Jade! I rated A Thousand Nights 3 stars I think, it felt pretty lack lustre and confusing for me. I can't wait to hear your thoughts on it though!

    • I know right? It was just really disturbing the whole way it was presented, and then in the end it was for nothing…except romance, which is what you DONT want.

  9. lekeishathebooknerd

    I haven't read this one yet, but It's on my TBR. Sorry you didn't like this one. I'm wondering if I'll like it, since I love this type of setting. As you know, characters can make or break a book real quick.
    My recent post Stacking The Shelves #76 + Giveaway!

  10. i of wasn't sure about this book at first because how is the author supposed to justify killing women and making the reader love that guy? so imagine my shock when everyone started loving it. i actually haven't read it yet because of some of the points you outlined. i'm actually glad she has a fatal flaw because i read so many books where the characters are so perfect like look at me, i'm amazing ugh.

    i kind of expected a stockholm syndrome thing and since i haven't read any books [good/bad] about it, i can't judge whether i like it. as a thing in real life, though, it's definitely terrifying as hell. great review, jeanne (: it's been SO LONG since we last talked!
    My recent post How To Make Waves – A Reflection on My Blogging Journey

    • Hey Nova, long time no speak! Yeah, I completely agree about Khalid, it was really disturbing. There was a big reveal to try and solve it, but I just wasn't convinced.

  11. Oh noes! I've seen so many mixed reviews for this one Jeann. Either bloggers have loved it or despised it and there's not much else in between. I struggle with these type of books, the world building and intricacies are usually too much for me to wrap my head around, but it's the same issue with the romance that you've found that will probably drive me bonkers. I bought a copy, but haven't felt the need to pick it up as yet. I'm reluctant now though. Wonderful review nonetheless Jeann and sorry you couldn't have enjoyed this more <3
    My recent post Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

    • I know, the world was actually okay, it wasn't overly complex but oh man, that romance was frustrating. I can't wait to hear which spectrum you end up on after you read it though!

  12. Thank you so much for posting this review, Jeann!
    I will be reading this book next month, and the reviews of this book are so overwhelmingly positive, I cannot help but think it'll definitely let me down. After reading your review, I think I have more balanced expectation. At least now I won't be raging (too much) when some of the stupid things happen.
    My recent post Review: Kindred Spirits (Rainbow Rowell)

    • No problems Windie! I always get suspicious when a book ONLY has positive reviews so it was good to share the other side here. I hope you end up enjoying it!

  13. I'm so sorry you didn't enjoy this one! Personally I really enjoyed it, but thinking back on some of the things you've said, I do have to agree with you. I thought the setting was absolutely glorious, and the writing was amazing – I loved all the vivid descriptions (even if they did make me hungry at times!) so much. I really liked Shazhad too, and thought she was so strong. I was never sold on Khalid either – I couldn't get over the fact that he was a bad guy. I was really confused in the ending as well! I didn't really get what was going on, so I had to go back and reread the last few chapters, haha 😀

    Lovely review, Jean! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this one ♥
    Denise | The Bibliolater
    My recent post Review: Rebel of the Sands

    • I loved the food, the writing and the setting but oh man, the characters really annoyed me! Khalid's secret didn't redeem himself for me and the ending was a rush. Thanks Denise!

  14. I can see why this book didn't work for you. I've mostly read positive reviews for this one, so it's interesting to read another point of view as well. I am not a big fan of Stockholm syndrome, the romance needs to be very well written for em to enjoy that plot device. The setting and Arabian feel does sound very well done and that aspect does make me curious, but I think I might have some trouble as well with the other things you pointed out. Great review!
    My recent post Lola’s Kitchen: Veggies in Chili Sauce Recipe

    • I know, the setting was absolutely beautiful but oh man, that romance was abhorrent. I really disliked it as you can tell. Thanks Lola!

  15. I'll have to reread this one and keep in mind what you said! Initially I didn't have much of a viewpoint on the sex issue because I didn't know where the story was headed but now I want to revisit that. Tariq's character just felt a little misplaced to me. Unless he plays a bigger role in the second book (no love triangle please) I think he is a little unnecessary. I liked this one a little more but I'm a huge sucker for romance. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
    My recent post Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab

    • Yeah, a few people who loved the novel the first time have said the same! Tariq definitely felt like a manufactured annoyance but I really sympathised with him and the way Sharzhad treated him and betrayed him.

  16. Kelly

    I've heard so many good things about this book…and barely any bad ones. That said, it was kind of refreshing to see someone actually make the points you made, especially about the way the sex was portrayed in this. I have yet to read the book, but it was nice to see someone have such a thorough review on these issues.
    My recent post Review: A Drop of Night of Stefan Bachmann

    • I know, I was looking for negative reviews while I was reading the book because I was surprised no one had mentioned these issues. Thanks Kelly!

  17. I felt kinda the same way you did as far as Shazi's character. You are hell bent on revenge and then….not. What the hell is that?! I was really looking forward to this one but I would only give it a 3. I liked parts of it but a lot just didn't mesh. You really summarized it perfectly. I didn't think Kahlid was all that great at all. Oh well still will read the sequel for sure but didn't see what all the fuss was about. I will
    Def be checking out A Thousand Splendid Suns. I am loving this middle eastern movement lately.
    Great review!
    ❤️Britt @ Please Feed The Bookworm
    My recent post Waiting on Wednesday – Iron Cast

    • Yup, I just found her to be an incredibly weak character when she has the mask of being a strong character. Khalid I found super disturbing as well and even the big reveal didn't redeem his character for me. I absolutely LOVED A thousand splendid suns! That book was pure perfection.

  18. YES to everything you just mentioned in this review, Jeann. I wasn't a fan of this book and the more I think about it, the more I dislike it. The concept itself was interesting, but the characters' motivations made no sense to me. Shazi was not a strong character, imo and I didn't care for Khalid AT ALL. I think my biggest issue was definitely the insta-love. They were SO quick to fall for each other and I couldn't see why. And OMG. THANK YOU, for mentioning the sex scene. It was very very glossed over and it bothered me because come on, this was her first time like you said. She should have had some thoughts. And this girl had none!!
    I'm sorry this was a miss for you, Jeann, but I'm 100% with you!
    My recent post Review: The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

    • I know, we had a big rant after I read the book which was really helpful for me! Oh man, Shazi drove me crazy with her indecisiveness and her arrogant mask for what I found to be a weak character. I was so uncomfortable with the focus on Khalid as a love interest. That sex scenes was definitely really disturbing :/

  19. I've owned this book since it was released and I STILL haven't read it. I don't know what it is, but I keep starting it and putting it back on the shelf after the first chapter. I actually don't have a problem with books about Stockholm Syndrome. I mean, Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite movies! XD I do think it's strange that they gloss over her losing her virginity without a thought. I mean, a lot of people think it's not a huge deal, but to lose it to someone you hate and not even think about it? Yeah, that seems a little strange. I'll probably still read this one eventually, but I'll be keeping this in mind. Great review!
    My recent post Book Review: The Siren by Kiera Cass

    • Yeah, the virginity thing was a BIG thing that bothered me in this book, particularly since it was brushed over to the side like it wasn't important. Stockholm syndrome really bothers me because just imagine that trauma that the victim would be in, for them to actually fall in love with them seems like such a stretch. Thanks for your comment Tracy!

    • I hope you enjoy it Dani, there were so many people that raved about it so it was refreshing presenting the other side of the coin!

    • I know, everyone is going on about it which is why I was so incredulous while reading it. Yup, you got the cute part right.

  20. Ahh I'm so sorry you didn't enjoy it! Personally I loved it and I can't wait for The Rose and The Dagger. My main problem with this book is the insta-love between Shahrzad and Khalid. He's started being nice only after what? 2 days I think? It kind of making me fail to see him as dangerous and a murderer. Plus why would he only kill woman? Why can't he just (I'm sorry if it just sound cruel) kill the prisoners or someone that actually worth to die? And the stories aren't that interesting either. I never gave much thought about the consumation, but after reading this, well, it was awkward and kind of brushed aside! I hope your next read would be better!
    My recent post The Intergalactic Book Tag

    • Yeah, that insta-love was a massive problem I had with it, especially since he was a murderer that only chose to kill women :/ I really didn't like that about it. Thank you Tasya!

  21. ichabod2014ic

    I read another review of this book. Their complaint was that in the original story, Shaharizad was a good storyteller. In this version, her storytelling abilities are not what one might hope for.

    • Yeah, it wasn't really focused on her storytelling at all, it was pretty random actually. That's a good point to make.

  22. Bieke (Nelly B.)

    I'm hearing so many great things about this book but for some reason I can't get myself excited for it. I just don't think it's my thing? I read snippets here and there and it didn't change anything so. I might just skip this one instead of trying it because of the hype only to be disappointed.
    My recent post {Liza Reviews} ‘Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick

    • Yeah, it's definitely one of those hyped up books and that always makes me wary. If it's not your thing, might be worth skipping!

    • I loved the writing and the setting too, but oh man, I was raging at the romance and the decisions she made lol.

    • Thank you so much for this one! It was an interesting book, just incredibly problematic for me. I hope you enjoy it!

  23. corrallingbooks

    …I don't think anything can ever match A Thousand Splendid Suns! That book was devastating, pure heaven and painful to read, all at the same time! That being said…despite the problems within the book, I'm actually more interested in this book now! It sounds really interesting – especially Shahrzad's character! Thanks so much for sharing <3
    My recent post Conversations | The New Meme On The Block

    • I know right! That book was absolutely incredible, one of my favourites back when I read it. I hope you enjoy this one, I know the rest of the blogosphere does!

  24. Aww I heard so many good stuff about this book. It maybe wasn't just for everybody. I totally get you on the difficulty of loving a book with a romance that's not very convincing. I had a dose of that in so many books. I salute you for even getting to the end. The cover of this book is very nice though especially the hardbound ones 🙂

    • Thanks Trisha! I was getting so ragey towards the middle of it I just had to get all my thoughts out into a fair review hehe. It is absolutely gorgeous!

  25. Vivian @ inked in pages

    I was let down by the book too. I liked it but I just didn't love it the way I thought I would. It was just missing a few somethings. I'm looking forward to seeing if the next book in the series is better.
    My recent post Review: Summer Skin

    • I know, everyone was raving about this book but I couldn't believe how irate I got at some of the points lol. I'm hoping with you that the next one improves!

  26. Angel @Angel Reads

    I think that this is the type of book that everyone needs to read and find out what they think for themselves, because everyone has a different opinion on things. I have been seeing reviews that have thought it was amazing and some like you that it fell flat.
    I do want to read it, but it's not high on my list. Thansk for the review.
    My recent post Book Review: Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry – Blog Tour