Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
A 16-year-old flees via hot air balloon to escape an arranged marriage in Marufu's debut, a rousing fantasy set in fictional country Ghadaea. Khadija, a member of Ghadaea's upper caste system, the ghadaeans, longs for adventure after growing up on tales of daring princesses and magical jinn; she isn't thrilled when her father informs her that he has found a man for her to marry. Meanwhile, Jacob, a member of the lowest caste, called the ha¯ri, longs to escape an abusive glassmaking apprenticeship. During a trip to the market with her father, Khadija notices a group of ha¯ri struggling to control a hot air balloon and decides to hijack it for herself. When she finally lands, she meets Jacob, who joins her in a swiftly unfolding adventure across Ghadaea. But while Khadija and Jacob evade capture and rescue ha¯ri from exploitation, a revolution brews in Ghadaea's streets, threatening their newfound friendship. Juxtaposing Jacob's desire for freedom in an oppressive caste system and Khadija's yearning for the right make her own choices despite her privileged upbringing, Marufu delivers a tightly plotted adventure, steeped in South Asian lore, that tackles themes of prejudice and traditional gender expectations. Ages 12--up. (Jan.)
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Review by Horn Book Review
Khadija is a brown-skinned sixteen-year-old girl Âliving in the (fictional) realm of Ghadaea. Although her Ghadaean identity grants her a position in societyâe(tm)s highest racial caste, her identity as a girl means she will never obtain the freedom she desires. When her father informs her that he has found a suitable husband for her, Khadija commandeers a hot-air balloon and floats away from her restrictive life. Her flight leads her to Jacob, a hri, or white member of Ghadaeaâe(tm)s lowest social caste, who longs to escape his abusive glassmaking apprenticeship. Despite their gender, racial, and class differences, the two form an unlikely bond, as they both wish for freedom from oppression and have experienced the loss of family and friends. Khadija and Jacobâe(tm)s friendship is tested, however, when they find themselves caught between two Ârevolutionary groups: the Wzeem, who believe that peaceful protest will result in equality for all; and the Hreef, who want the hri to rule at all costs. Told from ÂKhadijaâe(tm)s and Jacobâe(tm)s alternating points of view, Marufuâe(tm)s novel uses South Asianâe"inspired fantasy Âelements to tackle discussions of racism, misogyny, classism, and activism. An exciting and action-packed adventure perfect for fans of Blackmanâe(tm)s Naughts and Crosses (rev. 7/05). S. R. ToliverMarch/April 2023 p.72 (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Despite choosing flight, a 16-year-old girl must fight for her freedom in Marufu's South Asian--inspired fantasy debut. Khadija, a brown-skinned Ghadaean girl, escapes her Abba's latest arranged marriage prospect for her by jumping into a stolen hot air balloon. Her unexpected adventure leads her to Jacob, a hāri boy who is a glassmaker's apprentice. He constantly lives in fear because of the lightness of his skin and hair; the ruling Ghadaeans are brutally oppressive toward the hāri, who descend from attempted foreign colonizers. Despite their differences, Khadija and Jacob form an unlikely kinship; they both long for freedom and have experienced great losses that have shaped their biased preconceptions of one another. But they soon encounter two very different revolutionary groups: the violent Hāreef, who are determined to overthrow the Ghadaeans, and the sympathetic Wāzeem, who want equality for all. Jacob's and Khadija's friendship and beliefs are painfully tested as they are thrust into a war involving forbidden magic, flesh-eating jinn, and powerful shaitan, or demonic spirits. Alternating between Khadija's and Jacob's close third-person point of view, the book allows readers to witness their individual challenges and growth as they explore who they are and what they truly want in this world. This thrilling first installment justifies a sequel that may shed light on worldbuilding elements that are left unanswered. Magical and insurgent high adventure. (author's note) (Fantasy. 12-17) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.