Recently I was given the opportunity to get an ARC of the new literary fiction novel Shadow on the Wall by Pavarti K. Tyler. (For those of you not in the know, that’s Advanced Release Copy.) It’s probably my favorite thing about blogging. If I just told you whether or not I liked it, my answer would be full of profanities ending with the word “YEAH!” That being said, I’m going to try to remain professional while conveying why this book rocks my socks off.
The Set Up:
The heir to a multi-billion Euro company, Recai, wakes up in the middle of the desert with no clue why or how he got there. Thankfully, he is taken in by Hasad and his daughter Rebekah, despite the danger his mere presence poses. The RTK is everywhere, punishing anyone for anything close to breaking Shariah law, while flaunting it themselves. This only the beginning of a dangerous journey for Recai, and heartbreak can be found in every step. But there is a plan for him, a purpose. Every injustice, ever slight to human decency Recai witnesses prepares him for a destiny he has asked for his entire life. The question is, how long will it take him to realize it?
Yeah, it’s that good.
Here’s why you’ll love it:
The world needs a Batman. Especially where people are oppressed. I think Ms. Tyler chose a great setting for her story, a Muslim city also home to Jews, Christians, etc. There are terrible, terrible things that religious zealots do in the name of their god, and it’s everywhere in the city of Elih. I loved this aspect of her story because it was wonderful to see a superhero stand up for issues that I hear about on a daily basis. As great as the Joker and Catwoman are, it’s nice to see the real bad guys get punched in the gut for a change. If I could, I would send Recai all over the world to fix some of this ridiculousness we let ourselves get talked into. Too bad he’s fiction.
The world needs a Non-WASP superhero. Part of the reason I asked to review this book was I because I found the idea of a superhero that wasn’t from an English-speaking, or at least Anglo country refreshing. Hell, even the aliens, (Thor, Wonderwoman, Superman,) all show up white and speaking English. It’s not how I want my daughter to see the world. Yes, there are plenty of American heroes, but there are Indian and Arab and Jewish and Asian ones too. Or at least there should be.
You really understand the characters, even the unlikable ones. This might be my absolute favorite part of the whole book. Many times I have seen the first superhero story/comic/movie set up the great nemesis/super villain for episodes to come. Shadow is no exception. At one point in this book, the character who I see to be the Ultimate Nemesis does something pretty gruesome. What I love was that as I read the chapter, all I could think of was, “I would totally do the same thing in that situation. [The Ultimate Nemesis] let that guy off easy.” There are even some characters you start out hating that find redemption in the end, and most importantly: you are happy about it. That character it seems, didn’t need to die as horrible a death as you once thought. Ms. Tyler has found a way to put you in the shoes of each one of her characters, good or bad, and I think it’s an astounding piece of writing.
Why you wouldn’t like it:
(I had to think pretty hard on this one. The ideals behind this book are very accepting and tolerant, so I wouldn’t want to imply that by not liking the book, you are not accepting and tolerant. So here’s what I’ve come up with.)
You don’t like superhero fiction. Hey, it’s not for everyone. It’s for me and then some, but I can’t see, let’s say someone who needs to always be uplifted enjoying this book. Are there uplifting parts, absolutely, but you have to trudge though some pretty deep, dark places to get there. Which leads me to my next point…
You don’t like violence in your literature. Then stop reading now. Part of the reason superheroes are created is to combat evil. This book has it. Recai is not there to stop pickpockets. I’m talking to you, Mom. This book is great, but you couldn’t make it. It’s too rough for you. (Love you!)
Happy reading, happy writing… ahem… the sequel, Pavarti… ahem.