Cover Image: The Wild Ones

The Wild Ones

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Member Reviews

Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book for this honest review!

The cover of this book was what made me initially want to read it, and the inside is just as good! It follows a The Wild Ones, a sisterhood of magical girls who had been hurt and betrayed in their lives, as they help Taraana, the boy who gave them them their magic, from people who want to take his magic for their own. Despite the magic system being a little confusing at times, I really enjoyed it! The writing was so pretty, and it really painted a vivid picture of all the cities the Wild Ones went to. This book had such powerful themes and lovable characters, and I'd definitely recommend it!

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Hurt and abandoned after being betrayed by her mother, Paheli runs into Taraana, the boy with stars in his eyes fleeing from his own nightmare. With the magic of the stars Taraana gives her, Paheli finds purpose in helping those who suffered as she did. However, centuries later, the world of magic Paheli found shelter in is no longer safe and it is now Taraana who needs the help of Paheli and the Wild Ones.
The writing style of The Wild Ones is phenomenal. It is sophisticated yet witty and intriguing. Despite being centuries old, the Wild Ones did not lose their sense of modernness. The book switches narrations between Paheli and another unnamed narrator. It was a bold choice that was executed perfectly. The narration made the story seem more immersive.
A “feminist fantasy” really does not do this book justice. The plot of The Wild Ones is unique in its own right. However, what really makes it special is that it doesn’t shy away from discussing larger issues. While the Wild Ones may not be real, their struggles are all too common and every girl can understand the challenges discussed. The rightful anger at the injustices of the world is so beautifully conveyed. The Wild Ones may have dealt with their own traumas but this is a story of what comes after, of learning to stop apologizing for your existence and demand more for yourself.

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2.5 Stars

I wanted to enjoy this book, but it ended up falling flat for me. The premise seems very interesting, but the concept didn’t end up living to its full potential. The cover is stunning, and I loved the idea of a magical girl squad that could represent many readers who felt not represented in the YA genre.

The Wild Ones is on girls and women that centers on their hard struggles in life, the strength they can find from others, and creating a loving family that they can feel supported. Azad expands on how we form relationships and the horrors or beauty that can lay within them.

This novel brings to center stage issues girls and women face around the world in our society. It demonstrates how we can find a community with others to face head-on the struggles that all women endure. We get to see how the survivors cope after these horrible experiences they have faced over their lifetime.

One of the main problems with this book was it was so difficult to follow this book. The book switched between the first person of Paheli, the leader of the Wild Ones, and another point of view of one of the wild ones. But we are never told who the other point of view is. This made it even more confusing because it was just some mysterious Wild One we don’t know much about.

There were also so many characters in this book. There were 11 girls in the Wild Ones then you have various side characters as well as Taraana. I didn’t get the chance to know who they were and what they were like as people. I don’t even remember most of the Wild One’s names except Paheli, Valentina, and Taraana. I would have liked to know about the characters, we do get these little excerpts from each Wild Ones, but for me, that isn’t enough. Either the characters should get more development or have fewer Wild Ones so we can learn more.

The writing was another major problem in this book was the writing. Usually, there is only one writing style used in the book, but various writing styles were confusing to follow. There were moments where the writing style was full of so much life and written beautifully. Other times, we switch to writing, which was similar to middle-grade writing style, and it was choppy, and many things were redundant.

But other times the writer did the one thing writers should avoid. Instead of showing the story through the writing, she just straight up told us what was happening. This took so much away from the story and creates a disconnect for me. A wide majority of this including telling, rather than showing, so it wasn’t like it happen once, but it happens consistently. The writing style did not match up with the more serious themes presented in the book.

The worldbuilding was very weak. Most of the time, we would receive vague descriptions of places The Wild Ones would travel. In this world, there is a place called “the between,” where you can travel to any place you want through doorways. We are told that there is a Keeper of the Between. I would have liked the concept of the between expanded upon more because I didn’t “really” know what it was. I just thought of it as a place with doorways where you can travel to other locations.

Not only do we have “The Between,” in this book, but we also have humans and Middle Worlders. Middle Worlders are people who can use magic. Many times in the book, they are either described, as human or not human. Honestly doesn’t give us details about them, rather, it just says, “they are Middle Worlders, but they don’t look human.” I would have liked more description and to get more backstory about them. Most of the time I found the worldbuilding to be lacking and sometimes to be very confusing. Honestly, I feel like we got more worldbuilding for the food the characters ate rather than the actual world they live in.

The pacing in this book was also all over the place. The beginning was very slow, so it took me forever to get into the book. I found it to be very confusing while simultaneously being very boring. The book doesn’t begin to pick up until towards the middle, but even then, it’s still painstaking slow and still contains scenes that slow the plot down. It isn’t until about the last 100 pages, the book beginnings to pick up, and starts to go at a zooming pace. I would prefer for it to keep a faster pace throughout rather than having a super slow beginning and fly-by ending.

Overall, this book fell flat for me and ended up being a major disappointment. I had high hopes for this book, and it ended up not reaching most of them.

TW: Misogyny, child endangerment, human trafficking, abuse, rape (mention), bullying, grief, blood, violence, and victim’s guilt

Thank you to NetGallery for providing me an ARC of The Wild Ones in exchange for an honest review!

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i really enjoyed this book. beautiful, lyrical writing and well fleshed out characters as well as a romance that really hits deep. i can not recommend this book enough!! thank you so much to netgalley for providing me with an arc.

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Absolutely stunning! Nafisa Azad has been a long time favourite of mine and she has yet again written a flawless book with themes of power and unity.

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Paheli is a young girl with brown skin and striking blue eyes, something she knows will catch the attention of the men that frequent the brothel her mother works at, so she hides or keeps her eyes to the ground. One day, she forgets herself and a man sees her face. He makes a deal with her mother, and Paheli is forced to have sex with the man who paid for her. Paheli runs away, vowing to never return to that place or her mother again. As she flees, she runs into a young man with stars in his eyes. He tosses her a wooden box as he keeps running. When she opens the box, she finds it contains stars like the ones in the man’s eyes. As she picks one up, it embeds itself in her palm, and she finds she is able to create magical doors that allow her to escape her old life and begin a new one.

Paheli learns that the place the doors open to is called the Between, and it is a source of magic in the world as well as a way for her to travel from place to place. She is also gifted with the inability to be affected by magic and can create screams that incapacitate or kill other magic users, called middle worlders. She gifts the remaining stars to other young women she finds who have also been violated and betrayed by their families and friends. Together, they call themselves the Wild Ones. The band of women do not age once they put their stars in, and they use their abilities to help the vulnerable and save other women who are in need of help.

Centuries after Paheli is given the box of stars, she meets the young man who gave her the box and is told his name is Taraana. Taraana is the Keeper of the Between, a mysterious position that no one understands, not even the Keeper himself. He tells the Wild Ones their stars are his tears, which are a form of pure magic and allows him to feel connected to all the girls, Paheli in particular. He has been captured twice by a powerful clan leader called Baarish.

The Wild Ones swear to protect Taraana and help him come into his full powers by bonding with the Between. But are they strong enough to protect Taraana and themselves?

This book addresses a lot of difficult but important subjects that young women will have to face for most of their lives. It deals with sexual assault and the long lasting emotional effects of that assault, and it is a book that has women’s pain functioning as the central theme. However, the discussions of sexual violence are not meant to be pointless or pornographic in nature; they are honest looks at pain and the process of dealing with that pain. And it isn’t all hopeless. This is also a book about healing wounds and finding those who will help and respect the process that any healing needs. That’s what the Wild Ones are; a group of young women healing and helping heal. When Paheli is trying to talk the young woman out of committing suicide (and is unsuccessful from disuading her), the woman asks her if the pain ever goes away. Paheli tells her eventually, but it is a process that she has to work through, and that was so honest and real to me and something that I don’t think is explained enough in real life.

I would recommend this book. Even with such hard hitting topics, it never crosses the line and is never inappropriate. The allusions and discussions of assault are not merely throw away points to further the plot; they come up frequently, and that is how it is for actual survivors.

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Thank you NetGalley for an advanced copy. I had been looking forward to reading this novel since Azad's "The Candle and The Flame." While it is fantasy, it is unlike any fantasy novel you have encountered before, and it is heavy with emotion and heartache. There are triggers: rape, abuse, trafficking, guilt, anger. The strong women in this story, and victims can relate, while it may be painful to hear their trauma as well. Especially when locked up during epidemic quarantine, the world travel and adventure in the story is wonderful, and I made a point to look up all these cities mentioned. I think a map would have been a great addition. Azad's poetic writing coupled with down-to-earth conversation appeals to all readers. The descriptions of food are just as great in this book as her others. While I was hoping for a fulfilling and happy ending, I understand Azad's reasons for not including one. I will add this to be list of books for counselors, feminists, social workers, and strong women alike, but due to the serious content, I will recommend it on a case-by-case basis.

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Paheli has endured betrayal and unspeakable pain, but as a Wild One she is able to save girls just like her who have been through life-altering, damaging experiences. She is able to do this with the magical stars that give her access to the Between, the middle world that allows beings to travel quickly between cities of the world. These stars saved Paheli and her friends and were given to her by a boy in an act of desperation. When that boy reappears and needs their help, the Wild Ones come to his aid, but at great personal cost and danger.

This fantasy was heartbreaking and was easy to get wrapped up in. The world building was fascinating and so realistic that I felt like I was there myself. Each place the characters visited was unique and vividly described, and the plot was suspenseful enough that I couldn't stop reading until I found out what was going to happen next. Though I didn't like the profanity used or personally agree with some of the views and lifestyles presented, the overall message resounded with me. Whoever endures abuse of any kind should not give up or be defeated. Perpetual anger isn't the answer, but neither is giving up on life. I recommend this book for fantasy lovers and survivors.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. A positive review was not required, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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This was a gripping, fantastical story about women power and feminism told through the lens of magic. The characters sell this story, and I truly believe this is a fantasy story that uses character relationships as a means to progress the narrative. Totally worth the read.

Thank you for the e-arc!

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A gorgeously written feminist tale that I can't wait for more people to read. All the characters sucked me into their stories, may or may not have teared up. I loved every aspect of the story.

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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.

<em> Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review. </em>

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This fiercely feminist novel will transport readers to the most magical places on Earth - as well as in the Between. The Wild Ones have all escaped some trauma, and have found each other through their trauma and their commitment to help women like themselves. They travel the world through magical portals, experiencing cultures through food, and music, and art - and helping to provide sanctuary to those in need.

As they travel from magical city to magical city - from New Orleans to Istanbul, from Cairo to Tokyo - they encounter a man who is linked to their very being, and who is also in need of their protection.

This work is stunning in its power and breathtaking in its storytelling. Readers are transported just like The Wild Ones through descriptions of food and music, festivals and communities. And through it all, these women learn to overcome obstacles, to persevere, and to fight for a better, more equal, and more just world.

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DNF. I really liked the premise but the writing did not work for me at all. It wouldn't be fair to the book if I finished reading and gave it a low rating.

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It has taken me awhile to write this review and I’m still not sure I have the language to describe what this story did to me.

*This story comes with a whole host of trigger warnings. I’m not even going to list them out, just know if you have a TW it’s in here.*

A group of teenage girls who have been abused and abandoned by the world find their purpose in helping out fellow broken women all over the world. Living freely and putting each other back together, they call themselves The Wild Ones. They find themselves in the middle of war when the boy who gave them their powers, the boy with stars in his eyes, needs their help. They rally together to save him and in turn themselves.

The magic we see in this story is different than any I’ve seen before. It’s complex, but also feels very natural, much like our emotions. The characters are equally complex, which is what makes it so satisfying to get to watch their growth. We get a little backstory for each woman throughout, making you feel very invested in each one of them. The world building is absolutely beautiful.

This story is the epitome of sisterhood and an anthem to survivors everywhere. I will not only be purchasing a copy for myself but for my friends that are survivors as well.

Thank you, Nafiza Azad. Thank you also NetGalley for allowing me to read this arc!

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This book leaves me at a loss as to where I should start.

The magic in the book is like none I’ve ever read. As though the magic could be wielded by anyone who has the ability to look into themselves and see they are magic.

The sisterhood this book gives to survivors of pain and mistreatment.... Thank you to Nafiza Azad for writing it. My pain is within these pages and like the magic you wrote that girl from the past now has a star and she is too magic.

The prose is beautiful. A lyrical poem of pain and redemption. The tiny note of romance, a redemptive love the greatest of Magic’s.

I want nothing more than every young girl to read this and realize they are magic and no matter what walk of life they may come from, no matter the trials she may face, she can use her magic to be a Wild One.

This book is peppered with triggers that may be hard for many readers. The author has written a note to this on goodreads and I recommend it being read cautiously. If read by someone young I feel their parent or trusted adult should read it with them to open communication to the many things touched in this book.

5 stars all the way!

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Writing this is really painful because I had so many expectations from this book, but it's a DNF @ 35%

Almost one third into the book and only a baby step into the actual plot of the story. It was really confusing to keep track of all the characters and it seemed as if they were just going from city to city without any aim. At one point I just gave up because it got really tedious to read more.

I wanted so much to love this book, but I couldn't even bring myself to read the entire thing.

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What a lyrical, magical, empowering book this is. The storytelling is inspiring and the story itself is captivating. A complex magic system, bright cast of characters, and a different universe than one we have ever seen. Azad’s prose reads like poetry and I want to recommend this book to every young person I know who has an open mind and an open heart. Just stunning.

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I don’t like writing negative reviews. I tend not to; I mark a book as DNF or read and then just…keep silent about it. Maybe I put a sentence or two about it in my monthly wrap-up posts, but that’s all.

But I really, really hate this book.

And I hate that I hate it. I’ve been looking forward to this book breathlessly, ever since the publishing deal was announced. It’s magical queer girls of colour!!! With stars and magic diamonds and sparkly clothes! It’s everything I could ask for! When I was approved for an arc, I ran into the study to tell my husband the good news, I was so excited and ecstatic.

Today, I can’t decide whether I want to cry or scream.

There’s nothing wrong with the premise/concept, the plot, or the characters. I didn’t finish the book, but the issues I saw dealt with were not mishandled. It’s nothing like that.

It’s just that the writing is abominably bad.

This is confusing for a number of reasons, not least of which is that this is not Azad’s debut, and that book, The Candle and the Flame, had perfectly pleasant prose. I didn’t enjoy the book, but not because it was bad; it and I just weren’t a good fit.

Whereas The Wild Ones is just…so bad.

The first 50 pages are telling, telling, telling. Nothing is shown to the reader; it’s a never-ending lecture about the Wild Ones and the Between and non-humans and all the rest of it. One loooong info-dump. The writing is blunt and choppy; there are attempts at pretty description, but it’s cringingly clunky, with sentences like this

<sweet, milky treats that taste a little like heaven if the place was a flavor.>

An editor should have cut the last six words of that sentence and it would have been fine. Look

<sweet, milky treats that taste a little like heaven.>

Done. Much better!

The book is written in first-person; unfortunately, aside from brief excerpts from ‘the book of memories’ which are titled with a character’s name, half the time it’s not at all clear whose head we’re in. Sometimes it’s Paheli, but then in the next chapter someone else seems to be talking – because they’re referring to Paheli in third-person now – but there’s nothing to tell you who the narration has switched to. Whoever they are, they speak like very young, bratty children

<I glare at Valentina and pretend I have all the answers. I am really good at pretending, in case you’re wondering.>

A few lines later,

<“We’ll find out more about this person later. All right?” stinky Valentina says, trying to make up for putting her foot in everyone’s mouth earlier.>

‘Stinky Valentina’? What are you, five??? This from a character who has supposedly lived for over 70 years?

A lack of contractions makes the dialogue clunky and strange; it’s like a constant itch in your brain, insisting that this is not how real people speak – unless it’s for effect, which is definitely not the case here. Unless the intent is to create this niggling sense of wrongness, make it all feel artificial and false? I’m not sure why someone would do that on purpose. But putting the contractions issue aside, still, the dialogue is just…it reads like an appallingly bad script. The conversation about ‘this person’ mentioned in the previous quote goes back and forth, contradicts itself, and then is dropped like it’s nothing, even though this issue should be incredibly important to these characters.

Moments that ought to be immensely powerful and poignant fall flat in a way that’s almost painful. The Wild Ones are a group of girls and women who have been hurt by men, now made functionally immortal by magic. Early in the book, there’s a scene where they come to the rescue of a mortal girl, in the process revealing to the reader one of their powers –

<We take a deep breath, and then all of us scream at the same time. The men fall to their knees, their hands around their ears. The lights in the festival flicker twice before returning to their original brightness. The men do not recover. They won’t. They will hear our screams in their dreams. The sound will haunt them. They will lose sleep. Their relationships will suffer. Perhaps they will lose their jobs and livelihoods.

The irony of having screams as weapons is not lost on us. Our screams work differently on humans and middle worlders. For humans, the effect is somewhat akin to having an excess of electricity in their brains. For middle worlders, a Wild One’s scream means being injected with more magic than their bodies can safely contain. The effect is the same.

“Let’s go,” Paheli says, and we heed her.>

Magic screams, coming from the mouths of wounded women, is a powerful, meaningful concept. But it’s described so…limply, here. I don’t feel anything, there’s no thrill, no urge to cheer, no awe at the beauty and power of the moment. And then we get another paragraph of telling again.

What’s extra frustrating is that, there are brief glimpses of great writing. One of the earliest excerpts from the book of memory – a book containing the backstories of the Wild Ones – is from one girl who had an affair with an older man, and in comparing herself to the man’s wife, she says

<I was the sin to be confessed on Sunday to a red-cheeked priest.

She would be flowers on afternoons, jewellery just because, and dinner out with decade-long friends.>

See? That’s great! That’s wonderful! Why can’t we have a whole book of that?

And the world-building is so weak. Magical creatures are just ‘not-humans’. ‘The not-human man’. ‘The not-human woman’. I mean – you couldn’t even come up with a word for them? Really?

All in all, this was a massive disappointment that has me wishing this idea had been born in the mind of a different writer, one who could do it justice.

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The file for this book was really difficult to read, but I guess that won't matter once its actually published lol.

I think this book definitely needs some trigger warnings. It's a heartbreaking and empowering story about women and their strength, which I love. But it's important to note that there is a lot of pain that you see the characters experience in this book and you should definitely be mindful of that going into the story.

Overall, however, I think this book was really well written and I love seeing books like this where women and our strength is at the forefront of the storytelling. I'm really looking forward to hopefully reading this book in print so that I won't be so distracted by the awkward formatting on the file that I received lol.

ALSO, the cover!!!!!!!! Omg, big props to the artist! It's amazing and so eye catching, and I can already imagine this book on my shelves. So pretty!

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A group of teenage girls, who the world broke and shattered, discover their true selves by empowering other woman.
All with the help from the boy of stars- the one that gave them the power to move between worlds and persecute those that are evil.
Together, they must now aid the one that gave them their power, and protect him lest he fall- causing them to fall too. And they will not bow down or feel helpless ever again.

3 words to summarize this book. Feminists written beautifully.
This book is gorgeous, written in almost a modern lyrical way that ropes you in and ties you to the storyteller.
Each girl has their own orgin story, the one where the world tore them down only for them to rise up from the ashes and show how powerful they could be.
It tells the harsh reality of the world, how women are ultimately seen as less and it BASHES it - it tells the readers just how powerful girls can be and just how strong woman are.
It empowers the reader to realize their own strengths and see just how fierce girls can be once they band together.

The characters are relatable. Strong without being emotionless, loving without it being the whole plot point.
They are their own person, and they are PROUD of it. They’re fun and courageous, they are the very person you want to be.

Overall, if you’re wanting a book that’s so beautifully written that you get lost in it. A story where women are the one taking the world by storm and showing just what it means to be a girl. Then this is definitely the book for you.

(Thank you Netgalley and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for the ARC in exchange of a review

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