Friday, 13 July 2012

Bookworm: The Good Muslim by Tahmima Anam

I'd bought this book as part of a two pack offer and so i started to read it straight after finishing the first in the series. I quite enjoyed Anam's A Golden Age and thought it made sense to read the follow up next.

Where I expected there to be an easy flow from one book to the next I was instead faced with a mix of information. At times the story referred to previous characters or events and offered some form of explanation to the new reader. Yet this was inconsistent, with other characters left with no background detail or clarification.

The Good Muslim follows the same Haque family you see in the first book. However this time we visit Rehana, Sohail and Maya over ten years on. After the war has ended, we're now to see what has happened to the surroundings, the people and the relationships.

However, the magic of the first book's detailed descriptions didn't seem as strong in this offering. At times I struggled with the numerous characters in the first story, but this time there seemed to be even more people and past events to remember.

When presented with so many characters you can end up a little lost and I don't feel the writer has taken the time to fully explore those she does refer to. The result being a number of characters you are clearly meant to care about, but ultimately don't.

Where A Golden Age focussed on the war as the main topic, this follow up feels like a mish mash of smaller subjects. Constantly jumping from one time to another place to someone else's story.

Just as I'd start to unravel one character's life, another would get mentioned. This meant I didn't feel particularly emotionally tied to the words in front of me. Rather than enjoying the book, it became almost chore-like to read.

I think Anam tries to cover too many sub stories in this book, fitting in as much as she can in the under 300 pages available. I finished not really fully understanding what I had read and learnt and with no strong feeling about any of the characters.

Good parts
There are still some authentic, image inspiring descriptions
Certain twists you weren't expecting

Not so great
Too many side stories
Too much jumping around locations and timeframes
Can't embrace characters or develop a sense of caring about them
Unclear messaging - what is the final story or message you take away meant to be?

Overall, this book is okay. It's not particularly awful, nor is it a huge hit. I'm glad I got it through a book deal. Definitely a poor follow up to the first in the series.

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