Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 14 Apr 2020

Member Reviews

Samira Ahmed is a true master of mixing the expectations of typical YA Contemporary with the perfect amount of current cultural relevance. A truly eye opening read!
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Three stars

This book was a solidly mixed bag for me. I had a very hard time with the bulk of the novel, which focuses on Khayyam's perspective. There is a love triangle that I struggled hard (and failed) to care about. Khayyam's problems for the first two-thirds are grating. She finds herself torn between two potential romantic interests, but they are both kind of awful. Since this is her main focus, it has to be the reader's, and it's just...tough to care. The sections told from Leila's perspective are much more interesting; those were the sole reason I completed the book. 

Overall, I feel a bit disappointed in this. The concept and structure seem so interesting, but overall, the focus on the present-day romantic relationships made me wish for my own jinn to come to the rescue. 

I have read a lot that I like from this author and look forward to more, but this one just did not work well for me.
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This was my final read of 2019, and it was one of my favorites of the year! Khayyam is a feminist badass but also a totally relatable character, and I love the way that her present-day story is intertwined with Leila's story from two centuries behind. Highly recommend!
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I should have loved this book. It has everything I like--smart, diverse protagonists who are worldly and curious; secret history; lost artworks; fascinating clues; bilingual jokes. But I have to pan it. Because despite all of these good things--and a fun story about two young people tracking down a missing painting on the estate of Alexandre Dumas--at the end one of the characters reveals that he's stolen a sketch from a state archive. He claims that no one knew it was there and that no one will miss it, but scholars and archivists know better. It wasn't lost--it was in an archive. archives know what they have. And despite the admirable realism the author gives to the discover of the missing painting, she should have known, too, that every sketch, every scrap, is just as important to scholars. So while this should have gotten 5 stars and a rave review, it gets 1, because those of us who do research--we need those scraps, those things that arrogant teens think no one else knows about, that they think we won't need.
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It's too bad I already use Love, Hate & Other Filters in my class, because I'd really, really like to add Mad, Bad, and Dangerous To Know. Not only is it a brilliant story written in the vein of a YA Possession, there are enough historical and literary gems to keep an English class busy for an entire semester. I loved this story and the complicated multi-cultural characters so much!
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Special thanks to the publisher and @netgalley for the ARC of Mad, Bad, & Dangerous to Know. If you liked Love, Hate, & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed you will love this book! The story, told in alternating voices between two young Muslim women, spans centuries, unravels an art mystery, and features a love story. You will want to add this one to your TBR list and make a note that the official release date is April 7, 2020.
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Khayyam is spending her summer in France with her mom and dad.  She is American, French, Indian, and Muslim and would love to study art in college.  Recently, she failed to win a writing contest to get into the college of her dreams. Her boyfriend is posting pictures with other girls and seemed to dismiss Khayyam before she left.  All is not lost when she meets Alexandre Dumas.  

Leila is struggling, as she is trying to hide her love for a man.  Khayyam and Alexandre are researching and trying to understand what happened centuries ago.  

The chapters alternate from present, Khayyam’s story to the past, Leila’s story.  The history and clues intertwine and keep the reader finding connections between the past and present. I love the power and discoveries of the female characters throughout! The title is a reference to a description Lord Byron used and will become clear as you delve into this fascinating novel!
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My love for Samira Ahmed knows no bounds. Her writing is simply amazing. But i could not get into this book. I tried and I simply didn't care about the art geek and her French love interest. It didn't fit the mold I was expecting after Internment. I'm sure this book has an audience, but it isn't me. DNFed at 35% completion.
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This was an absorbing and entertaining literary mystery. Kayyam is spending the summer in Paris with her parents. After meeting a young descendent of Alexandre Dumas, she becomes involved in the hunt for a treasure: literary, artistic or personal. Interwoven with her story is that of Laila, a young Muslim woman who may have influenced the work of Byron, Dumas and Eugene Delacroix. As a scholar of this period, I found the imaginative connection between these characters intriguing and not impossible, and I enjoyed the treasure hunt and the relationship between the young present-day protagonists. I admired the way the author allowed complexity into the modern-day relationships: all is not resolved neatly and motives are unclear on all sides. I liked the quite strongly feminist slant. Perhaps my one complaint - ironic, given one of the major themes of the book, that women in history have no voice - is that the historical story-line is given considerably less attention and depth than the modern-day plot line. I would have like to have heard more from Laila's own voice. On the whole, though, I would recommend this as a well-written, thoughtful, and enjoyable novel.
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Loved this book. The story line is intriguing and interesting. It held my interest and kept me reading. The characters are well developed.
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Disclaimer: I was only able to get halfway through this book before I stopped due to apathy. 

I wish the editors.forced the author to do a few more rewrites.  Add in elements that create real intrigue. For there to be a hero, there has to be a villain. There is no villain in this book. There is nothing on the line - nothing is at risk. Which in turn just makes the hero a regular old schlub like you and me. And that's not interesting. 

I have two main problems with this book.  The first is that Im not sure the book knows what it wants to be. YA teen angst love story? DaVinci Code like mystery? Cultural/feminist exploration?

Secondly, and more importantly, I don't care.  It's the authors sole job to make me care. And that is the part that's a colossal failure.  It's not provocative enough for a good love.story. It's not compelling enough for a good.mystery. And the comment on culture is better 1,000 other places. 

Teenagers, in real life, sometimes make mountains out of molehills. But for that to translate to a novel, there has to be something more. There isn't.  

The main character broke up with her boyfriend and then went to spend the summer in Paris.  I get that she's missing the seemingly douchy ex-boyfriend, but there is absolutely nothing that I care about it to warrant  mentions on every page. There is no drama or suspense with the ex. There is no meaningful.backstory or heartwrenching experience. It's.just.another failed teenage romance. 

The mystery they are trying to solve about Alexander Dumas? I don't care about it. And the reason it hasn't been resolved is probably because most.other people don't care either. 

The fact that she wants to solve this so-called mystery is because she wasn't accepted into her top.choice school and she wants revenge on the admissions people .that's a nifty drive in real life, but it definitely isn't compelling enough to power a 300 page novel. I truly don't care if she gets into the school and don't want to waste 5 hours of my life to.get the answer. 

#MadBadDangerousToKnow #NetGalley
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Samira Ahmed takes on art history, family secrets, and romance set in Paris and spanning the lives of two Muslim women across time.

Khayyam arrives in Paris, like she does every summer, feeling the weight of failure and criticism after her art school admission essay is ripped apart. Not only is she crushed by this defeat she is also feeling the sting of a recent breakup between her and her not-quite boyfriend. When she runs into a descendent of Alexandre Dumas her life begins to take an adventurous turn. Is it fate that brought them together? Together they work together to uncover the mystery of the woman, Leila, who brought together Lord Byron, Delacroix, and Dumas.

This book was impossible to put down. I love how Ahmed tied together the stories of Khayyam and Leila and made connections between two Muslim women trying to find their place in the world. Leila's story is tragic, yet she is one of the strongest characters in the book. Her voice and her convictions rein true throughout her story and Khayyam's desire to honor her shows her deep respect for Leila. The romance and tension between Khayyam and Alexandre, as well as Khayyam's ex Zaid, will keep readers engaged beyond the mystery of the story. This story will lead the reader down a rabbit-hole of internet research to uncover more about the history of Dumas and his connection to other artists of the 19th century.

But this story isn't just about mystery and romance. Ahmed brings identity to the forefront as she discusses the complex identities that people have. Khayyam is a young woman whose Muslim mother's family was from India and whose white father is from France. She is constantly trying to figure out her place in the world that constantly challenges her identity. Colonialism and Orientalism are also discussed as it related to Khayyam's family in India during Partition as well as the history of Dumas, whose mother was a slave. This book is ultimately about feminism and giving a voice to the silenced.
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This book was an absolute delight to read. I loved Ahmed's INTERNMENT but MAD, BAD, AND DANGEROUS TO KNOW has solidified her as one of my favorite contemporary authors. Her characters are sweet without being irritating, flawed without trying too hard, and so relatable. It was a joy to spend time with this story, even as someone who isn't interested in art history.
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This combo of historical fiction, mystery sleuthing, romance, and cultural education by Samira Ahmed is a winner! Ahmed is really great at writing about first love and first heartbreak. Her characters are always different and have great diverse and cultural representations. The setting in Paris was interesting, especially as Ahmed introduced more of the history through her characters. This will be another well loved book of my teens.
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Terrific romance and mystery while weaving history throughout. I was compelled to research where fact and fiction met when I closed the book because the threads were woven together so seamlessly and believably. Such a fun book with compelling and thought-provoking undertones made this a page-turning read. Characters that were likeable and real; with thoughts that mimicked my own as the story and relationships unfolded. The settings of modern day Paris juxtaposed with 19th century India stimulates the reader's imagination senses, making it even more enticing to stay immersed in the luxury of this wonderful book.
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Bilingual, biracial high school art historian Khayyam Maquet is in France for the summer with her Indian mom and French dad, eating pastries and trying to prove an Art Institute critic wrong. Khayyam has a theory about Delacroix and Dumas and then meets a descendant of the latter but finds that she's more interested in the story of an unnamed mystery woman. We follow Khayyam and Alexandre Dumas the nth around Paris (and pastries) and discover the ways that they--and pretty much everyone but Khayyam's parents--are duplicitous.

The unnamed mystery woman element is of particular interest to me because of the French right to be forgotten legislation, which I kind of think is bs. Khayyam is conflicted. She wants the woman to be identified and remembered, but not exposed against her will. The dead woman, that is.

    "People are lost in history all the time." Alexandre shrugs. "C'est la vie."

to which Khayyam thinks,

    A woman who doesn't even get a name of her own. There are literally centuries of women who never got to tell their stories. An invisible hand squeezes my heart for the nameless women history brushed aside.

She wants the woman's story known, but is conscious that she herself is an outsider with something to gain. She's conflicted. I appreciate that! I also appreciate the teen historian-ness of statements like

    When we kiss, I can taste the grime from this place on our lips, and it occurs to me that a lot of our kisses are sprinkled with the dust of centuries past.

I think thoughts like that sometimes, especially in old places. My friend Bridget lives in a building built in 1790. When I climb the narrow twisty stairs, I wonder if they're original, and when we eat and talk and watch TV, I wonder about the 200+ years of conversations and meals that have taken place in that house on Water Street.

Khayyam is a thoughtful person in many regards, considering Alexandre's positionality, as a descendant and what their mission means to him. Even so, they get into it a little.

    "I only want to save the Château and Dumas's legacy. I'm not expecting to get rich off it. Of course, being an American, you think everything comes down to money."

    "And I guess being a man, you think you can steal a woman's story and make it your own."


Neither of them is wrong, amirite? I've read all three of Ahmed's YA novels (Internment and Love, Hate, and Other Filters are the other two so far), and this is my favorite.
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Ahmed has a particular gift for capturing the way teenagers experience their first love and first heartbreak. She also writes with great candor about the particular anxieties of highly compliant, academically successful girls and their well-meaning parents with high expectations, and she manages to weave this into her characters and their narratives seamlessly. In this book, Ahmed takes us on a heart-pounding adventure through 19th century art and literature, the sands of 1800’s Turkey, and streets of modern-

Meet Kyayyam, a Chicago teenager spending the end of the summer before her senior year hanging out in her parent’s apartment in Paris. She’s spent most of the summer recovering from two major disappointments: the scathing rejection of her essay in the Young Scholar Prize by the Art Institute of Chicago, and her heartbreak over Zaid, her full-time crush and on-and-off again (maybe) boyfriend. 

Kyayyam is the child of academics, and she herself is an aspiring art historian who longs to become, I her own words, “an art world darling”.  She has a theory – albeit unsubstantiated and not well researched – that artist Eugene Delacroix had secretly given one of his “Giaour” paintings to his friend and author Alexandre Dumas. This theory was the subject of her failed Art Institute essay and has becomes her obsession. 

Proving this theory becomes the central narrative thread that drives the plot.  As luck – or perhaps something else- would have it, Kyayyam meets Alexandre, the great-grandson of Alexandre Dumas, and together they embark on a quest to solve the Delacroix/Dumas, falling in love along the way.

There is a dual narrative in the book, wherein the narrator switches every-other chapter between Kyayyam in the present day and Leila – a Turkish woman intimately connected to the Giaour depicted by Delacroix in his famous painting. As both the stories progress, the connection between Leila, Delacroix, and Dumas unfolds.

At times, I felt that the Leila narrative go tin the way of Kyayyam’s story and caused the book to lose momentum at times. However, this book delivers so many delights (Historical facts! Mystery! Romance! Paris!) that more than make up for this one small criticism. YA readers will LOVE this book. I can already think of two readers that I will recommend this to in particular.
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I dig me some Samira Ahmed. And this combo of historical fiction, mystery sleuthing, romance, and cultural education was just what I needed! I always feel just a little smarter and a whole lot inspired by her books and this one is no exception. I look forward to recommending it to my kids at school and to my own daughter. 🤓💜📚
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#MadBadDangerousToKnow #NetGalley
Another enchanting book from Samira Ahmed, I love this author so much. Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know is a lovely book filled with history, art, and Paris, France. The intertwining of two very amazing young women, growing up on different paths, but not so different as we begin to see. The book is a fresh look at how our lives can be transformed and we can be our own champions!
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Another great YA book from Samira Ahmed! History and present day intertwine in this novel about a Desi-French-American girl spending the summer in Paris. When she crosses paths with the however-many-greats grandson of Alexandre Dumas, the subject of her recently rejected admission essay to the art history program of her dreams, who becomes her co-conspirator in an investigation into a possible connection between Dumas, Byron, Delacroix, and a mysterious woman depicted in all of their work. Lots of girl power and feminist undertones as well as tons of fun details for art / history / literature nerds. 

It's a fascinating read mixing historical accounts with modern day. The flashbacks to Leila's perspective were a nice touch. And I'm eager to get my hands on a finished copy which will hopefully include some notes about the history / research behind the story as well, because I'd love to find out just how historically accurate it is. But regardless of that, a fun and enchanting read picking yourself up after failure and carving your own path.
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