Blog Tour Review: Hollow Fires by Samira Ahmed

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A book that brings to light several important social issues that plague society today.

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Samira Ahmed for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eARC and media kit!

Book Information

Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller
Publishing Date: May 10, 2022

A powerful, gripping YA novel about the insidious nature of racism, the terrible costs of unearthing hidden truths, and the undeniable power of hope, by New York Times bestselling author Samira Ahmed. Perfect for fans of Sadie and Dear Martin.

Safiya Mirza dreams of becoming a journalist. And one thing she’s learned as editor of her school newspaper is that a journalist’s job is to find the facts and not let personal biases affect the story. But all that changes the day she finds the body of a murdered boy.

Jawad Ali was fourteen years old when he built a cosplay jetpack that a teacher mistook for a bomb. A jetpack that got him arrested, labeled a terrorist—and eventually killed. But he’s more than a dead body, and more than “Bomb Boy.” He was a person with a life worth remembering.

Driven by Jawad’s haunting voice guiding her throughout her investigation, Safiya seeks to tell the whole truth about the murdered boy and those who killed him because of their hate-based beliefs.

This gripping and powerful book uses an innovative format and lyrical prose to expose the evil that exists in front of us, and the silent complicity of the privileged who create alternative facts to bend the truth to their liking.

Content and Trigger Warnings

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

About the Author

Samira Ahmed is the bestselling author of Love, Hate & Other FiltersInternmentMad, Bad & Dangerous to Know, and  Amira & Hamza: The War to Save the Worlds, as well as a Ms. Marvel comic book mini-series.  Her poetry, essays, and short stories have appeared in numerous publications and anthologies including the New York TimesTake the MicColor Outside the LinesVampires Never Get Old and A Universe of Wishes.

She was born in Bombay, India, and grew up in Batavia, Illinois, in a house that smelled like fried onions, spices, and potpourri. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Samira has taught high school English in both the suburbs of Chicago and New York City, worked in education non-profits, and spent time on the road for political campaigns.

Samira currently lives in the Midwest. When she’s not reading or writing, she can be found on her lifelong quest for the perfect pastry.

Author Links:

Review (no spoilers)

If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

It’s Friday the 13th! I don’t know why I started my review off with that, but I felt like I needed to address it.

Hollow Fires is a YA mystery/thriller perfect for fans of Holly Jackson, Diana Urban, and Karen McManus. And unlike the previous authors I’ve mentioned, it also has a great deal of important social commentary, particularly about racism and Islamophobia. The story follows a senior in high school named Safiya who seems to feel like she is being haunted by the ghost of a missing 14 year old boy named Jawad. Jawad’s disappearance (and subsequent murder) is largely ignored or misunderstood by both the public and the police, leading Safiya to take things into her own hands. As hate crimes continue to plague both Jawad’s family and Safiya’s school, Safiya learns that she may be closer to solving the case that she would prefer.

I thought that this was a great book for the young adult audience that it was intended for as long as the readers haven’t many thrillers as the villain is very predictable. So predictable in fact that I kept hoping I was wrong and that the author had pulled one over on me, but alas. The style of writing was enjoyable and kept my attention throughout. The story is not told in a linear fashion, however, so make sure to pay attention to the dates at the top of each chapter. I made the mistake of not reading them at first (because I’m lazy) and had to go back early on to get my events straight.

I will say that I found this book very triggering, particularly as a woman of color. Basically every. single. page. has an instance of someone (youth and adults alike) being absolutely disgusting. It is chock-full of graphic racism, islamophobia, and white nationalism. These are important topics to be discussed, particularly with the impressionable youth who can easily be manipulated and groomed into white nationalism online, but can definitely be overwhelming for someone who has repeatedly seen this in their everyday lives. I would highly advise that anyone who wants to read this check out the trigger warnings listed above.

Hollow Fires was released this week, so don’t forget to grab your copy at the links above!

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