Cover Image: Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know

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I didn't love this one the way i wanted to when I read the summary. I love parallel timeline stories! Something just didn't click with this for me.

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This has been languishing on my Netgalley shelf for far too long. And I can not believe it took me long to get around to reading it. It was an absolutely fantastic read and I could not put it down.

Khayyam has a summer before college to spend in Paris. She has broken up with her boyfriend and failed to get the scholarship she wanted when her art history research was dismissed. Paris is an opportunity to heal and find a new direction.

There she meets Alexandre Dumas. A descendent of the iconic French writer, and the pair embark on a Parisian research/treasure hunt across the city to uncover the secrets of the Delacroix painting and the connection with Lord Byron.

This book is about giving a voice to the voiceless in history, particularly the women. Leila’s story has been told many time by men who have found fame and fortune off the back of it. Khayyam and Alexandre have an opportunity to change that.

Leila’s story is fascinating and I wish it had been more developed. There’s a lot that didn’t seem plausible – breaking into abandoned building that still contain documents written by famous writers seemed unlikely. But if you embrace the fun it doesn’t matter.

Khayyam does spend too much time moping over her ex who doesn’t seem all that special, but she is passionate about art and her connection with Leila is deep and genuine.

This is a really good YA novel. I really enjoyed it. Thank you to Netgalley for my gifted digital copy of Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know.

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My first brush with the idea of art history was in college. A brilliant classmate of mine who went on to be inducted into the university’s Hall of Fame and was also the school’s first Fulbright scholar did an independent project on art of the Holocaust–both produced during it and stolen during it. She went on to present this work and more at multiple conferences and won awards of it.

Khayyam Maquet, though? She’s got my old classmate beat. Not only is she doing the same work as a high school teen, she’s taking advantage of her family’s annual trip to Paris to solve a mystery of art history and prove to herself she is not everything the Young Scholar Prize judge said she is. Khayyam’s investigation of Delacroix’s Giaour series and an alleged mate owned by Dumas fell a bit flat thanks to a breadcrumb that turned out to be fake.

Isn’t she lucky she’s in the perfect place to hunt down the subject of her work with the same-named descendant of Dumas. With his help, she has access to resources others haven’t had before. She just might be falling in like with him too since her boyfriend Zaid has basically made himself her ex by ghosting her.

What can you even say about a novel this good? The art mystery at the story’s heart is enchanting and Khayyam in particular is a remarkable character, as is the mysterious Leila who shares narrating duties with her. Khayyam is a girl in pieces when the novel opens: a French and Indian and Muslim American girl who really feels the spaces of those identities, a girl with a broken heart, and a girl with an injured spirit thanks to the Young Scholar Prize fail.

Meanwhile, Leila is 200 years in the past and just lost her favored status in the Pasha’s harem. When the Pasha kills her lover during their attempted escape with Lord Byron, she’s got her pieces of self to pick up too. She clawed her way into influence and safety in the harem and now she’s got to do it all over again in the UK and France.

The question of who gets to tell whose story is at the heart of the novel as well. Khayyam has to stop and ask herself if Leila’s story is one for her or anyone else to tell, especially since the difficulty of tracking Leila down indicates to her Leila may not have wanted her story told. Her sections confirm it: she wants to keep her story to herself. After living a live with so many things controlled by others, she can control only who knows her story.

The relationship that blooms between Khayyam and Alexandre is an imperfect one and it’s not love. The secrets they keep from one another and the certain end of Khayyam’s time ensure that. But does it have to be? They are partners, friends, and brief flames who change one another’s lives. Most of us will encounter those who will only be part of our lives for a short time as friends or more but who change us indelibly.

The book also features an author’s note presumably about the mystery at the heart of the story and what is real/not real, but I didn’t get to read it because my copy was an ARC. I’m not sure I care how much of the story is true or fictional, though. Ahmed weaves such an exciting, enchanting art history mystery that the truth comes second to the experience. As someone who once aspired to be a journalist and is careful about spreading misinformation, it startles me to say that.

If you’d like your YA mysteries with a little less of teenagers hunting down killers, you’re going to love Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know. I certainly did.

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I absolutely loved this story!

I mean, I'm a sucker for dual-timeline novels, so this was bound to hold some intrigue -- and Samira Ahmed pulled it off with grace and ease. The Paris setting was so whimsical and atmospheric, and, as an art connoisseur myself, I greatly appreciated all the references to art, art history, and artistic techniques.

Not to mention, Ahmed has this lyrical way of wielding words that creates an almost poetic tone, and it's SO beautiful and enthralling to read! I fell in love with her prose in this title, and will definitely be on the lookout for her future titles!

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This book was a solid read to me. I'm a huge fan of this author's writing and story telling. The fact that we had alternating chapters from totally different time lines made the story come together so well.

Khayyam was a wonderful character, she was real and acted just how I would picture someone in her position acting. I love that she has such a mix of backgrounds that were all intertwined in the story. She was a very unique character and I love the way she was portrayed.

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Loved the dual timelines! A perfect book for teenage audiences and enjoyable for adults as well. I liked the main characters and felt like they were complex and interesting!

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After several chapters I knew it would not appeal to my students and do not plan to purchase it. Thank you for the opportunity to read it for preview purposes.

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Mad Bad and Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed was a unique, lyrical and wonderful story of two women who wish to write their own stories despite the odds and how their lives intertwine. I was blown away by this gorgeous story, which was at once powerful and timely and fun and entertaining.

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A wonderful blend of historical and contemporary stories, loved the parallel plot lines, the characters, and the Paris-setting.

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It took me a while to get into the book. But once I did, it was an entertaining read. I enjoyed the historical aspects and the author balanced the two timelines really well.

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Very interesting and gripping read right here.
The way that the story of "Mad, Bad & Dangerous to know" is told was really fun and the dual Narrative that spans different centuries was very intriguing.

Overall between the fairly unique way of storytelling as well as the way the characters are written, I'm sure most people who like Ya mystery/historical fiction would enjoy this one.

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I wanted to love this book more than I did.
I love a book with dual time lines and captivating, strong characters - both of which this book had.
But some parts of it fell really short for me, which is severely disappointing (to me, of course). I fully suspect that other people will thoroughly enjoy this one, and I definitely encourage them to read it!

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This was a wonderfully entertaining and interesting literary inspired mystery. I really loved the main character and her interests and internal struggles. The literary mystery part of the story was so interesting and made me want to look more into Alexander Dumas! Really enjoyed and highly recommend.

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DNF @50

The premise is a bit too weird for me, unfortunately. Ahmed's writing is strong, but I can't connect to the story.

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This felt fresh and new, but also deeply rooted. Loved the strong voice and K's relatable story.
I recommended this book in an article for teen reads that I wrote.

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Unfortunately, I had to DNF this one because I'd been trying to read it for months and just couldn't get into it. Skimmed the rest and read the author's note at the end, though, and it seems really, really interesting! Hopefully I'll be able to give it another try someday. Maybe when I don't have pandemic brain.

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For some reason this book didn't hook me as I thought it would. The personalities of most of the characters in this story are prominent, but I found myself getting bored and my attention frequently drift away to other things.

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I have so many thoughts about this book I don't even know where to begin. I want to start out by saying that in terms of originality, I've never read a book quite like this one before and that in itself is something I enjoyed. I love discovering new concepts of fiction and stories because it expands my knowledge and imagination greatly. This was also my first Samira Ahmed book and one of the things I enjoyed the most about this book was her writing style. There were a few times it felt like the sentence ran off a little bit, but other than that it was just beautiful. The imagery was insightful, but not too flowery. There was a lot of attention to detail which is something I personally appreciate. I felt like she did a good job being able to transport me to Paris with her characters and go on this adventure alongside them. With that being said, I unfortunately didn't love the characters as much as I thought I would and the plot was interesting, but I don't think it was entirely up my alley. 

Deep diving into the characters, there were things I liked and disliked about most of them. On a positive note, I actually found Leila's story to be really interesting and almost wish it was a little longer. She was a very strong and prominent figure that I would have liked to get to know more of. I think that Khayyam, being that she was in high school, was on this journey not only to uncover history but to learn more about herself. I appreciated that she stood up for herself, corrected the male characters when they needed to be checked, and learned to find her voice. With that being said, one of the most annoying things in this book was the petty relationship situation going on. Things weren't clear on if she was still dating her "boyfriend" or not, and it seemed that they were still together. Instead of confronting him about it she decides to make him jealous using another guy. I was just not a huge fan of all the lying, deceit, and pettiness that was intertwined among the romantic relationships. It also shocked me how fast Khayyam suddenly had feelings for this boy she happens to run into in Paris. At least to me, it was unrealistic. Zaid's character was a jerk. Alexandre's character was charming, a bit too charming, and then turned out to also be a bit of a jerk. It was just difficult for me at times to root for these characters when I couldn't find them super likable. 

Finally, in regards to the plot, I did find the mystery that Khayyam was trying to uncover interesting at first. There were moments I was really invested in uncovering the next mystery to lead us to this unknown women. My issue with some parts of the plot was that it all got really jumbled so it was difficult for me to keep track of each person. I still don't think I fully understood each individual character and their role in Leila's story. I also found the transition from uncovering historical secrets to relationship drama and kissing was kind of unnecessary. Totally a personal opinion, but again, it was hard to get invested into the sleuthing when it was disrupted constantly. 

As a whole, there was so much to appreciate about this book and I'm glad I read it. I don't think this book was entirely for me because I'm not super interested in history and art as much as other people might be. With all that being said, the themes of feminism and strong women were prominent and I was really happy to read about that. 

Writing: 8/10
Characters: 6/10
Plot: 6/10
Ending: 8/10
Originality: 9/10
Overall: 37/50
Cover: 8/10

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I was super excited for <i>Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know</i> because I absolutely loved <i>Love, Hate, and Other Filters.</i> However, this book just didn't do it for me.

I can't even provide a comprehensive summary of this story because most of the text left my brain immediately after I read it. There really wasn't anything I cared about: the characters, the plot, the writing style, the dialogue, the contemporary and historical perspectives, the romance--nothing. I was extremely disappointed because Samira Ahmed's writing has definitely made me feel intense emotions and has made me feel a strong liking towards her characters, but I felt nothing but bored while reading this novel. I struggled to finish and felt like I still didn't exactly know what Ahmed's goal was by the time I reached the last page. The romance and mystery, which drove this story, never caught my attention at any point. I can't even remember the characters' names even though I finished the novel a few minutes ago.

Overall, I found <i>Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know</i> to be terribly disappointing--however, I'll be looking out for future works by Samira Ahmed because I know she's capable of so much more!

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An engaging art history mystery told in dual perspectives, featuring two strong female voices. Brings up some interesting themes of erasure, autonomy, and who gets to tell the story.

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