Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Exploration into the personal implications of terrorism and hate crimes? Check. Cutesy teenage romance? Check. TOO MUCH CUTESY TEENAGE ROMANCE? CHECK! While I do think that Love, Hate and Other Filters is a very important book to have out in the world, some of the elements of the story just didn’t work for me.

This book is expected to be released on 25th January 2018.

This review may contain mild spoilers for this book (What I consider spoilers might not be what you consider spoilers but I thought that I’d put it out there just in case). READERS YE BE WARNED!

A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape–perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.

American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.

There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.

Rating: 3/5

Thank-you to Jess at Allen & Unwin for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I have had a good run with contemporary novels lately and liked nearly all of the ones that I have picked up but unfortunately Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed kinda missed the mark for me. The novel intersperses the heavier topics of racism and hate crimes with teenage romance, a feat that may have been pulled off but still could have been done better in my opinion. Even so, I am super thrilled that this book even exists as it looks at some super important issues that quite a number of people are facing today all over the world.

The story follows the main character, Maya, and her life after a terrorist attack. Even though the attack wasn’t in her town or related to her in any direct manner, she was still treated differently in the aftermath. While exploring the personal implications of a terrorist attack on someone who wasn’t involved is excellent, there were a few things that I didn’t like about the book: the pacing, and the romance. The pacing annoyed me because the first half of the book was spent on establishing her “normal” life before anything super significant happened. I’m the type of person that just wants a book to jump straight into the action so to speak. The romance, or should I say romanceS (Plural),  irritated me because there were about 2 or 3 of them and none of the boys are chosen in the end (actually, a new dude is introduced in the epilogue).

I feel like I should have an opinion about Maya but I kind of don’t. She seemed like your usual teenager: boys, university, parents, friends, etc. A few things that I definitely didn’t like about her was how rude she was to her parents (I get that they were kinda traditionalist and were attempting to mould her into the perfect Indian Muslim daughter but she was still pretty horrible) and how much her happiness seemed to revolve around which boy she was with at the time.

I’ll admit that the writing was pretty good. There were tons of, what I assume were, Indian food and movie references most of which I didn’t know except for the one reference to the Bollywood movie Bride and Prejudice (Which I absolutely love and totally recommend watching). One thing that I was slightly baffled by was the very obvious lack of Maya doing anything religious. The book was marketed to be about an Indian Muslim teen but I didn’t see too much of the Muslim part.

While I wasn’t a gigantic fan of this particular contemporary novel, I definitely think that it does bring up some very important issues that many people have to deal with in their everyday lives and that everyone should just read it and see how they go.

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