2050, New York. In the aftermath of a grueling spiritual cleansing quest, Ismael, a Pakistani–American student, enters an alliance with spiritual beings who send him on a perilous journey of self-discovery. A non-believer, Ismael must return to Pakistan, now in the grip of a brutal fundamentalist government and gain the trust of his estranged father, a prominent extremist in the Caliphate. To accomplish this, he must pose as a true believer. Will he survive long enough to infiltrate his father’s inner sanctum and complete his mission?
Let’s just take a moment to appreciate this beautiful cover, shall we? After reading the blurb, I instantly felt that this book had a lot of potential. It’s been really long since I read an urban fantasy book. To begin with, my expectations were really high. The story addresses a question that we all might have had at some point. “Do you believe in Heaven and Hell?
Ismael, the protagonist of this book, is an atheist, and he doesn’t believe in Heaven or Hell. Jannah and Jahannum(Paradise and Hell) is all his father talked about. He grew up listening to the horrible punishments in Hell as his bedtime stories. Finally he mustered up courage to flee from his hometown(Pakistan), and leave everything behind for good.
It is 2050, 12 years later, and he lives in New York now. One day he meets someone at a cafe and they start talking and the topic of his thesis comes up. He explains why he chose the topic of his dissertation as Paradise and Hell, and strongly suggests that they don’t exist. His spiritually inclined friend requests him to go on a cleansing quest to know the truth. This quest takes him back to Pakistan, now a fundamentalist government. He has to gain the trust of his estranged father, a prominent extremist in the Caliphate now. Being a non-believer he has to now pose as a true believer to gain the trust of his father and infiltrate the inner sanctum to complete his mission.
It is disturbing to read what people are ready to do in the name of religion. Their ultimate aim in life is to go to Paradise. Though it is an urban fantasy, it is an allegory of what the world might turn into if this madness continues. The story is about the trials and tribulations Ismael faces in this journey of self-discovery and how successful is he in completing his mission.
The characters are well developed and the world building is also good. I really enjoyed the book for the most part, but there were scenes that made me cringe. I really could have done without all those lust filled scenes. I personally felt them unnecessary and felt disappointed. I do not know much about Islam/ Quran but I was able to understand the references(I googled a few). Overall, it is a great read.
My Rating – ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
To get a copy of this book, click here.
- Paperback: 356 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (25 August 2017)
- Language: English
Hope you enjoyed reading the review.
A fellow bibliophile
**I received a copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.**