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.
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.
‘ …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!
About The Author
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)