The Wild Ones, by Nafiza Azad

briarrose1021's review against another edition

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This is a book that I was really looking forward to reading. Not only does it have a beautiful cover highlighting the strong female characters that would be found within, but the blurb describes a story of strong women protecting other women and helping them to become greater than they are. For those of you who haven't seen or read the blurb, here it is:

We are the Wild Ones, and we will not be silenced.

We are girls who have tasted the worst this world can offer. Our story begins with Paheli, who was once betrayed by her mother, sold to a man in exchange for a favor. When Paheli escaped, she ran headlong into Taraana—a boy with stars in his eyes, a boy as battered as she was. He tossed Paheli a box of stars before disappearing. With the stars, Paheli gained access to the Between, a place of pure magic and mystery. Now, Paheli collects girls like us, and we use our magic to travel the world, helping to save other girls from our pain, our scars.

When Taraana reappears, he asks for our help. Dangerous magical forces are chasing him, and they will destroy him to get his powers. We will do everything to save him—if we can. For if Taraana is no longer safe and free, neither are the Wild Ones. And that is a fate that we refuse to accept. Ever again.

See? It sounds like an awesome book. Unfortunately, I have no idea if the book was actually awesome because I was completely lost from almost the very beginning and had absolutely no idea what was happening. I kept listening because I kept hoping that I would start understanding it at some point, that there would be some reveal that would tie everything together for me, and I would be good.

I never got that.

Unfortunately, because I was listening to the audiobook, I don't know if that failure was on the author, on the narrators, or a result of the combination. The narrators were Ulka Simone Mohanty, Priya Ayyar, and Nafiza Azad (the author). I don't know who narrated which part because I had trouble even determining when the narrator changed. Even going back and relistening to various parts, the narration wasn't compelling, and my attention kept wandering.

I wish I'd had a copy of the book so that I could have read along, or just read it alone. If I had, maybe I could have followed along better. I don't know. With as much as I was looking forward to the book, I may end up revisiting it if I can find a copy of the book, but I won't be going out of my way to find one and read it. And that disappoints me.

Which is really all I can say about the book. I was disappointed. But I can't even give specifics on why because I honestly don't remember any specifics, and I only finished it about 15 minutes ago.

balto_hon's review

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Take the book 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson, add some Charlie’s Angels and some contemporary feminism and you have The Wild Ones. The book tells the story of maligned young women who form family of sorts traveling the world through a series of doors in a between world. They assist the boy who came to the aid of the first Wild One who is now pursued by other magic clans that wish to take his power.

Although this story seems to have bits and pieces reminiscent of other stories, the outright feminist angle makes it feel fresh and original. I enjoyed the camaraderie between the women of the Wild Ones. I also enjoyed how the story told a bit of the story of each one through a mixture of prose and verse.

Thank you NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

ljrinaldi's review

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The Wild Ones are the ones that have been saved by magic. They have been abused, they have been raped, they have been betrayed by the ones they love, and total strangers. They have been starved, they have been tortured, and they have been saved by stars that are in their hands.

The stars came from a boy, Taraana ,who was also abused, and tortured, until he cried tears that were stars, and knowing that these stars were powerful, he gave them to the first of the abused girls so that she could save others.

Yes, this is the story of how the girls, save Taraana, but it is also the story of how the girls try to save others, other girls who have been abused, or are about to be abused. Sometimes they give money so girls can go to school. Sometimes they take them into their family so they can never grow old, and help with saving the world, one girl at a time.

Paheli was the first Wild One, but she is not the last. The girls travel from magical city to magical city through doors in the Between. They have houses they live in wherever they go, be it New Orleans or Istanbul. They favor the cities that have the taste of magic in them, that have old places about them.

This is so different from Nafiza's first book, in one way, but the theme that I have noticed that runs through both of her books, so far, is food. Food that tells the story of who you.

There are a lot of things that Westerners might not know of, but Nafiza is very good about explaining them before running on with the story.

This book is for all of those who have been abused, and have not been able to seek revenge.

To say much more would give too much away.

Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.

ikarichelle's review

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Picked this up at B&N because the cover caught my attention. Really good read on trauma and it was interesting to say the least. The perspectives took a bit to get used to, especially since the group, the Wild Ones, refer to themselves as a collective “they,” but once it clicked it was an easy going read.

laylacarstairs's review

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*2.5 stars

openmypages's review

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{3.5 stars}

"Being broken doesn't mean ceasing to exist or remaining broken forever, it means a chance to recover and reconstruct."


The Wild Ones is one of the most fun, girl-power, emotionally wrought fantasy books I've ever read. Paheli and her group of eleven girls living between the world of humans and magic. Each has a story of pain, abuse and marginalization from which they were saved by embedding a magic star in their palms. This has given them immortality and the ability to move between the worlds but it also limits them to living within cities and being invisible to humans unless they expend magic. When they are confronted by the truth of the magic that has saved them, they need to fight to save the boy who saved them and for their very existence.

I love the female loyalty and fierce unwavering support to save not only themselves but other girls facing the same fates that they did. The magic is fun and unusual and of course, the baddie is easy to hate and rally against. The writing is absolutely delicious, it's so descriptive and beautiful - it makes me want to live in this world.

Thanks to Booksparks for a copy of this novel. All opinions above are my own.

kate_reads_everything's review

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Wow, what a book. This was a bold, messy, magical, atmospheric, heartfelt, sometimes overwrought story. For any potential readers, I'd give a CW for SA. The Wild Ones are women who have all survived great trauma in their lives. This sisterhood must save a powerful boy from someone who wants to exploit his power, and in doing so, the main protagonist also learns and grows a great deal.

I wasn't quite sure what to rate this book. I landed on 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 because it's so daring. The author makes a number of style choices, like interspersing poems about the girls, or having some chapters be 1st person from the FMC's perspective, and some be 1st person... plural? From the perspective of the collective Wild Ones? It was beautiful, and the prose was beautiful, but it was sometimes hard to follow whose head you are in.

Other things that I didn't like as much: the plot was pretty simple, and honestly secondary to the worldbuilding. Things wrap up cleanly in the last couple dozen pages, after an enormous amount of globetrotting with little progress made. Also, sometimes the narrator broke the 4th wall a bit or used slang or colloquialisms that broke the magic a little bit (these girls exist out of time and are often quite old, after all). That being said, the prose and worldbuilding are so gorgeous I'm not even that sad about it.

readwithrhys's review

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*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review*

The Wild Ones by Nafiza Azad has a promising premise to it, I will admit that. And the cover is absolutely stunning. But my god, I was confused the entire time.

I gave myself some time to gather my thoughts on this book, so here we go.

The Wild Ones follows multiple women, and centres on their hard struggles in life, the strength they can gain from one another, and creating a family out of nothing to feel supported in.

Characters: there are so many god damn characters. It’s hard to keep track of all of them. There’s 11 Wild Ones, plus lots of side characters like Taarana. I don’t honestly remember any of the Wild Ones names except Paheli, because she is the one POV where it’s obvious that it’s her. I wish we could have get to know more of them.

Plot: this plot was so choppy, and I’m disappointed in it. It has such a cool premise but it fell so flat for me. On top of that, the story was told in alternating POVs. One pov would be Paheli, and one would be from a Wild One, but we wouldn’t know who it is. I already knew going in that those types of POVs I don’t like, but I had no clue it was going to be in here. It wasn’t done that well for me.

Worldbuilding: I felt like the world wasn’t flushed out enough. We didn’t get that many descriptions, only that the Wild Ones went to a place called “The Between”. Only Middle Worlders can go there, and the Wild Ones are able to become invisible in the real world. That’s really all I understood about the world in this book. I’m still confused about it.

Since I gave myself a few days to gather my thoughts, I found that I forget a lot of what happened. And that doesn’t happen often. When a book I read becomes one I don’t remember key details of, it shows me that the book wasn’t for me.

Even though this book was not for me, I think it will definitely be one that is beneficial to other people. I am a very white passing Métis man, this book was not written for me. I am reviewing it from my standpoint, not someone else’s. Please keep that in mind.

stiricide's review

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DNF p. 30. The magic here isn't complicated, but it's presented in such a convoluted way that it made my head swim. 30pp in, I'm just not gripped. Kind of feels like I'm reading a corebook for a game I'm not that interested in playing. (This is probably fine, it's just not for me.)

vanillabug's review

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This was a beautiful written story. The plot, the characters, I loved them all. There was just something missing to make it a 5 star read. This is a great novel that has a nice mix of magic while also dealing with very heavy topics. Please read the trigger warnings before you pick this one up. But I highly recommend this one. Very quick to get through and a true testament to the power of women.