A review by nerdybookqueen
The Wild Ones by Nafiza Azad

challenging slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


I wanted to like this book. I was so excited when I saw it in the bookstore, but I'm on a buying ban so library it is, and now I'm a bit grateful for it. 

This book felt more focused on making a point than telling a story, at the detriment of the point it's trying to make. 

Things I liked:
I loved the premise and concept. A badass, diverse group of women rescuing other women from awful shit and giving them the chance to heal? Fantastic. And the bits of that I got were great.

Some parts hit so hard, and they were so good. I loved those bits, especially the ones separate from the characters- there are these unlabeled paragraphs centered on the page and they almost all hurt in a meaningful way.

I really liked the bits we got from the "Book of Memories" (which I don't think is ever mentioned in the actual story?) that introduced the other women.

The concept of two traumatized characters learning to recover from their trauma so they can trust and have a relationship? Great, I love that. 

What I didn't like:

I found this book super hard to follow. I have no idea what was going on in the world, it felt like a ton of information was tossed at me but not in a coherent way, I really don't know anything about the other women besides our main girl, Paheli. I feel almost like I was dropped into a sequel that already expects me to know what's going on. I wish I knew more about the world and characters. Except the food, there was so much talk of food that felt super out of place for the most part.

The writing was...weird. I really didn't enjoy most of it. Beyond being hard to follow, it also felt kind of bland. I'm not really sure how to explain it, it was just very frustrating. Especially the weird unnamed narrator bit. The characters were already hard enough to keep track of, having a narrator not identified was just extra confusing. I found I really didn't care about most of the characters, which is frustrating, because I don't want to feel that way, and not in a book with such a good concept. 

This book dealt with very heavy topics in a poor manner. It felt like a lot of it was just presented to us and then the reader is hit on the head with "hey this thing is bad" and I feel like people who disagree and don't view these traumatic things as bad probably wouldn't pick up the book. It didn't feel like there were any emotions when these were discussed either, between characters, that they were just stating "hey this is bad, we need to help women from it." Which yes, is true, but it's weird to write it that way. 

The ending was so anticlimactic. I got to it and was left feeling just... "what, that's it?"

Overall, I thought it would be really good, and the cover is gorgeous, but I was left feeling kind of disappointed. Which is so frustrating. It had such a cool concept, but it was executed poorly.

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