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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Book Review - The Tyrant's Daughter

Book Review

Bookshelves: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary

Rating: 4 of 5 stars (It was good)

Recommended Age: 16+
There are some pretty deep issues in this book, there are some disturbing images,  alcoholism, an assassination and war.

I received this book free in exchange for an honest review. 

I will be honest and I wasn't really sure if I would enjoy this book going into it. I am the kind of person who shudders at most news because I find it incredibly depressing. I avoid politics and have my husband give me the highlights on all things international. I am so glad I gave this book a chance. This book was a real world wake up call for me through the eyes of a teenage daughter of a country's unloved dictator. 

We meet Laila after she, her mother and younger brother flee to the United States after her father, once the leader of their country, is assassinated. Laila struggles to adjust to her new world and how to incorporate all things American including new friends and boys. Her younger brother seems to adapt quite quickly because of his younger age but still holds on to the idea that he should be "king" of their home. Laila finds herself testing the waters and dipping her toes in rebellion. Laila begins to settle into her new skin but finds all the things she once thought concrete and true begin to unravel and fall apart, beginning with her parents. 

I really enjoyed the characters. I love the way her mother was written. She was so manipulative and worked every angle so she could get what she wants, which is to return to her country with her son in power. Just when I think I have her figured out, I'm bombshelled by reality. I liked Laila, there was a lot more to her than many one-dimensional characters found in many ya novels. She didn't feed into the typical teenage stereotypes but she was realistic with toeing the line here and there. I really felt for her as she was discovering the truth about her father from another side. I loved watching her grow while she makes decisions that will define where her loyalties lie. There were some characters that were kind of flat. I liked Ian and Emmy but didn't find much depth to them. They were sweet and nice in every way and even when they were upset it didn't really have much impact on the rest of the story. Looking back I realize that all of the American characters were pretty stock. The CIA agent was pretty stereotypical, brushing off the teenager and focusing on the end game no matter what leads him there. Amir seemed to be multi-faceted but we didn't get to see very much of him, so I'm pretty reserved on making judgments on him. There was some coming of age type romance as Laila is discovering who she is and what she wants, but it isn't your typical choose-a-side-triangle!

The whole plot was a strategic chess game and I loved all the twists and turns made. It wasn't as suspenseful as I anticipated, but it was the intrigue and my curiosity that drove me because I had to find out who's treachery would land them on top. This is definitely a thought provoking book. It is not a light easy read, it really helps you see that not everything is black and white. While we sit a world away from international conflict even the tidbits we get from one side do not a clear picture make. There is a lot of grey area when we aren't in the situation, when we can't see each side. A rebel is not always bad or good, to some a dictator is seen as a king and others a monster. This book really made me realize how many of my frustrations and decisions are definitely first world problems. This book helped me to consciously remember there are not only two sides to every story, but multiple stories on each side. 

The only thing I really felt lacking was closure. I am unsure if this is a stand-alone or a series. Depending on that, I could change my review. The ending seemed a little rushed, lines are drawn, loose alliances formed and that's it. I want to see how it pans out later. I also would like more of Amir or the rebels.

All in all, I am very glad I was given this opportunity. This book opened my eyes and I like seeing more. Thank you Random House Childrens, Alfred A. Knopf BFYR, and Netgalley!

Happy Reading!


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