Book Review – Kick The Moon by Muhammad Khan

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is kickthemoon.jpg

Title: Kick The Moon

Author: Muhammad Khan

Demographic: Young Adult

Genres and themes: racism, toxic masculinity, feminism, empowerment, all-around awesome geekiness.

Release Date: January 24th 2019

TRIGGER WARNING – This book tackles racism, toxic masculinity, revenge porn, slut-shaming and emotional abuse. It has a lot of slurs, including some that are homophobic. They aren’t there without purpose and are handled well but if you’re particularly triggered by this, it might not be the best book for you.

Synopsis – Fifteen-year-old Ilyas is under pressure from everyone:

GCSE’s are looming and his teachers just won’t let up, his dad wants him to join the family business and his mates don’t care about any of it. There’s no space in Ilyas’ life to just be a teenager.

Serving detention one day, Ilyas finds a kindred spirit in Kelly Matthews, who is fed up with being pigeonholed as the good girl, and their friendship blows the social strata of high school wide open. But when Kelly catches the eye of one of the local bad boys, Imran, he decides to seduce her for a bet – and Ilyas is faced with losing the only person who understands him. Standing up to Imran puts Ilyas’ family at risk, but it’s time for him to be the superhero he draws in his comic-books, and go kick the moon.

Introduction

There’s always that worry in the back of your mind as a book blogger that you’re not going to like a book as much as you’d hoped. With social media being as much of an influence as it is today and author/blogger interactions a pretty regular thing, it’s very easy for a writer to see all of their hard work knocked down with just a simple tweet. Personally, I don’t tag authors unless what I’m writing is positive and I don’t ever tweet something negative unless it’s constructive – in which case, I still wouldn’t be tagging an author. But, I am followed by a few and those authors could easily see my thoughts without me purposely trying to get them to read my opinions. I had such high expectations for this novel, but I always had to plan how to go about rating and reviewing it if on the off chance, I wasn’t going to enjoy it. I am a book blogger and reviewer and I would never want my opinions to be biased, no matter how much I may like the author and his work. Thankfully, not only did this book match my ridiculously high expectations, it sucker punched them, blew them right out of the water and left me sobbing – in a good way!

Muhammad Khan’s debut I Am Thunder from last year was phenomenal. Asian and Muslim representation isn’t massive in YA and it was excellent to read a book that was so real. One of the things that I loved most about it, was how dark and unflinching it was in it’s subject matter of Islamophobia and terrorism. It’s a perspective I’ve never seen before and I appreciated how Muhammad didn’t dumb anything down for his younger audience. That definitely carried through in this sophomore novel, Kick The Moon.

My Thoughts…

‘ …selfless but to the point of losing his identity’

Ilyas Mian is one of the most special characters I’ve had the pleasure of following in all of my years of reading literature. No exaggeration.

I’ve read countless stories about being strong and taking control of your life, standing up for what you believe in and basically, not giving a shit what people think and I have to say it was refreshing to see a protagonist do this, whilst also struggling to speak up. He’s a geek. He’s emotional. Most importantly, he has a good heart but he’s got the weight of dozens of expectations placed upon him by various people in his life. Because he puts other people first, he typically follows through with whatever his friends and family want him to do without ever really considering himself. He’s selfless but to the point of losing his identity. It was just lovely to follow his journey and see a timid boy, grow into this strong, still-nervous but resoundingly moral character without it being too unrealistic a transformation. I actually briefly met Muhammad Khan last year for a couple of minutes at YALC and I definitely see a lot of his personality in the character which I think adds an even more heartwarming and personal touch to the novel.

The supporting characters were all exceptionally thought out. Yes, there were a lot of stereotypes floating around but in a way it reminded me a little of The Breakfast Club in the sense that the stereotypes were there for a purpose. Everyone WAS placed into a box but certain characters prevailed and showed more depth than was originally there. In reality, some people are exactly as they appear. Imran was a horrific human being. He had a lot of issues growing up, but they turned him into what he is now and that’s that. For some people, there is no redemption arc and I liked that it mirrored reality in that respect.

Besides Ilyas, Kelly was a great, empowering character. I liked that their relationship was purely platonic as well as the fact that she was a rich white chubby girl with crazy hair. At times, she was also a sheep. And once again, the reality for a lot of people, including myself, is that even if we consider ourselves a feminist, sometimes peer pressure knocks us down and we have to get back up again. I saw a lot of myself in Kelly, and paired with Ilyas, they were unstoppable. Their developing friendship was fantastic to read about.

Ms Mughal was kick-ass and once again, I love how Muhammad’s career as a maths teacher shines through. His school settings are always realistic and definitely where he excels. From the way he wrote Ilyas’ mother and from the dedications at the back of the book, I’d imagine he took a lot of inspiration from his own maternal relationship there too which is a lovely addition.

The dialogue was very heavy on British slang which for some people might get a bit grating, but I grew up all over the place and I heard a lot of it as teen, so it didn’t bother me in the slightest. In fact, I definitely think it added a lot to the grittiness. There were also a lot of cultural references weaved in, but it never felt overdone. And being a massive geek, I appreciated all of them.

And to conclude…

I can’t fault this book. You may read it and disagree. But every so often, a reader will find THAT story that connects with them in such a deep way, that all minor flaws potentially hidden beneath the surface completely evaporate until there’s nothing but love for the pages beneath their fingers. For me, that’s this book.


I gave this a five out of five 🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁

Pre-order it now!

Amazon / Wordery/ Book Depository

About The Author

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is muhammadkhan-1.jpg

Muhammad Khan is an engineer, a secondary-school maths teacher, and a YA author. He lives in South London and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing at St Mary’s. Muhammad takes his inspiration from the children he teaches, as well as his own upbringing as a British-born Pakistani. He has written two novels for Macmillan Children’s Books: I Am Thunder, which was one of the most highly anticipated YA debuts of 2018, and Kick the Moon.

(Author bio and photo taken from Pan Macmillan’s author page)

Advertisements

My Best Reads of 2018

Hello and welcome to a whole new year on Matilda’s Library! I hope you have had a lovely Christmas and had a great time celebrating the end of 2018! Sorry for lack of blogmas posts but life got in the way as always. One of my goals for the new year is to create a blogging schedule and stick with it. As of right now, I’m hoping to post every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday so stay tuned for a lot more posts!

So…I guess we should get into my favourite books from last year. Not all of them were new releases but all of them now hold a lot of fond memories for me and deserve their place on this list.

This list is in order, from my least favourite of my favourites (wow, that’s a weird way of phrasing that), down to my absolute favourite book of 2018. Without further ado, let’s get started!

10. To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is tkak.jpg

I had heard a lot of people online GUSHING over this debut in 2018 and after talking to a guy at the Hot Key book stand at YALC, I instantly picked up a copy. Siren/mermaid stories are very hit and miss for me so I did take a while to actually get around to reading it but when I finally did, I discovered a dark, fantastical fast paced read with characters I grew to really care about throughout the entirety of the book.

9. Even The Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is etfds.jpg

I received a copy of this from a Fairyloot box back in 2017 and the book cover took my breath away with how beautiful it is. Seriously one of the most stunning books I’ve ever seen. I hadn’t really been in a fantasy mood so when I finally was, this was one of my first choices. I love novels that focus on a journey and was not disappointed with this one in the slightest. From the intense world building and surprisingly creepy elements weaved in to the wonderful cast of characters and my genuine lack of warmth throughout. This was a book I didn’t just read, but I FELT. Absolutely incredible and I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of the sequel.

8. Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is frozencharlotte.jpg

I’d put off reading this for a really long time because I expected it to be quite juvenile. Zoella’s review on the front of the book ‘So creepy and amazing’ didn’t exactly make me think otherwise either. However, I read a few other Red Eye books and my other half really wanted to read this particular one so we bought it. It definitely proved me wrong, and was certainly not juvenile. I watch a lot of horror movies, and I’ve never been scared from a book before. Within the first chapter of Frozen Charlotte, that changed. This had my mind racing and my eyes anxiously looking around the room. I even had to make sure my leg was under my duvet which is always a sign of pure terror! Alex Bell created a masterpiece of YA horror with this book and whilst the killer doll thing has been done before, it still felt original!

7. Legendary by Stephanie Garber

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is legendary.jpg

I wasn’t a massive fan of Caravel so was hesitant to pick up the sequel and put it off for quite a long time. The first book had so much potential but failed to create the magical setting and atmosphere I had expected. Legendary definitely took a drastic turn in terms of plot and overall vibe and because of that, I fell head over heels in love with it. Tella is the far more interesting sister and I much preferred having her POV. I’d imagine Finale will feature both sisters and I’m curious to see if being in Scarlett’s mind has become slightly more exciting. Regardless, Legendary was a full blown, edge of your seat fantasy and I adored every minute.

6. Everless by Sara Holland

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is everless.jpg

This was one of my first reads of 2018, and it was definitely a highlight! The intriguing concept of time being drained from your blood is fascinating to me, especially delving into the political difficulties that would follow something like that. I felt so much sympathy for the people living in this world ruled by the seemingly immortal hierarchy, and Sara Holland crafted the bleakness and hopelessness perfectly. The romance side of the story elevated it into a slightly lighter tone but this world is brutal. And I loved every second of it.

5. All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is allthesebeautiful.jpg

I grabbed myself a copy of this at YALC purely because of the beautiful aesthetic of the book. The plot sounded intriguing of course, but that was definitely an afterthought. Yes, I know…I’m a shallow book buyer. However, this ended up being my favourite thriller of all time. Yes. All time. The flashbacks, the characters that I ended up despising and adoring, the high stakes, the settings..it all just pieced together beautifully and I urge you to go and buy a copy right this second. The less you know about it the better.

4. A Court Of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is acotar.jpg

I didn’t know which book to include because I loved them all, so just consider this the whole series. It may be a guilty pleasure and the overly explicit sex scenes do definitely take away from the book in my opinion but other than that, I fell in love with this trilogy. Lucien, Elain, Tarquin, Bryaxis and the Suriel were my favourites among the impressively large cast of characters and the ending emotionally devastated me. I cannot wait to finally read the Throne Of Glass series in 2019 and see how it compares.

3. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is winter.jpg

Once again, I wasn’t sure which book to include so I’ve included the whole series. The Lunar Chronicles far exceeded my expectations and upon putting the final book down for the last time, I truly felt like I’d found myself a new group of friends. I loved the dystopian-esque vibe mixed with sci-fi and fantasy. It blended beautifully together and with each book and each new character, I fell even more in love with everything about the story. The way Marissa Meyer retold classic fairytales and loosely weaved their plots through the series was effortlessly done and I even loved Fairest, the story of how Levana became the Levana we come to know.

2. What The Flower Says of Death by Danielle Koste

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wtfsod.jpg

Never has a book meant so much to me. It crushed me. I sobbed like I have never sobbed when reading a novel before and I mean that in only the best way. It’s a story that deals with suicide and depression in a genuinely honest way, and for some people, it might even be too honest. All I know is that this book has found a permanent place in my heart. It’s bleak, hard-hitting and magically romantic. I urge you to go into this knowing very little, but please be warned. It speaks openly about depression, self harm and suicide.

1. I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is iamthunder1.jpg

This was a complete surprise to me. I hadn’t heard of the author, I hadn’t heard of the book…but when I went into my local library and they’d placed Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed next to this, I instantly picked them both up and checked them out. I was disappointed with the book I’d actually gone into borrow. I felt it brushed over the terrorism element of the story in favour of following a fluffy romance. I still enjoyed it but it wasn’t what I had been wanting. I picked up I Am Thunder straight afterwards, and never before have I been so gripped by a contemporary. I remember being huddled under my duvet in my sister’s house scared because I was all alone in an unknown house and reading to comfort myself except the book was making me even more scared! How many contemporaries can you say that about? And despite the weird creaky noises in the house, I still stayed up into the early hours because I HAD to find out how the story was going to end. Muzna was an excellent protagonist. She wasn’t perfect, not in the slightest. But for that reason, she should be an inspiration for young girls and boys everywhere. The racism and the general bullying she has to face during the novel, and how she finds the will to overcome all of it is astounding. That’s not even mentioning the darker element of this book. Radicalisation. I’m just so happy that Muhammad Khan did not shy away from speaking about this topic openly. It’s almost as if authors and publishers think the YA audience won’t be able to cope with such a heavy subject, but this book proved them all wrong. Go into this knowing it’s about a strong woman dealing with Islamophobia and let yourself be surprised by the rest! A truly remarkable debut.

And there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this post and hopefully you’ll go and check out some of the books that you haven’t read yet. What were your favourites of 2018? Do we have any in common? Let me know in the comments and thank you for reading!