Hey you all! It’s time for a new review for Dutch Venture Publishing!!! The book I will be reviewing is Takla Makan: het blauwe licht (Takla Makan: the blue light in English) by German author Petra Nouns. This blogpost is part of a blogtour, so, I will give you the next stops on the tour beneath this review in case you want to read more opinions about the book (the other reviews are in Dutch). So, what was this book about and what did I think about it?
Ella is a fifteen-year-old girl living in Berlin. She’s learned to stick up for herself because the school where she goes to in Kreuzberg isn’t the best and things can get rather rough in class. Luckily, her best friend Sofia mostly follows the same classes as her.
Just like last year Orkan is in her class too: a Turkish boy with a big mouth and ego to match. Ella can’t stand him. Moreover, she thinks he’s nuts because he insists that his aunt can do magic. Who believes that kind of crap?
But then something remarkable happens. Ella suddenly sees a mysterious, blue light – a glow that gives her visions of a future where Orkan and Ella are madly in love. Is she losing her mind or is someone trying to show her how her life could be one day … ?
The description sounds totally awesome, and the cover is gorgeous ❤ A recipe for an epic read, I thought, but sadly this was not really my book. I will try to explain why this story didn’t really hook me, but first let me tell you what I did like about it.
I loved how different cultures came together in this book. Not only because of the multi-cultural school Ella goes to, but also because of the magic and folklore from Turkey and China that were pivotal in this story. I love reading about different cultures and learning about fairy- and folktales I didn’t know about. I also liked how the writer incorporated some of the struggles and troubles children in multi-cultural schools face every day. It’s no easy feat to write a story that handles these kind of issues and differences in a simple, yet representative way, but the author managed to do this quite well.
Another thing I liked was the blending of a teenage lovestory with Oriental magic. This added some mystery and tension to the story. I thought the parts about Leila, Orkan’s aunt, and her nemesis Arda were pretty funny and interesting. I would have loved to get to know a bit more about the whole magical system in this storyworld.
Now, what I didn’t like. Somehow I couldn’t relate to main character Ella. At times she was rather immature for her age, and other times she seemed much older than fifteen. I couldn’t quite grasp what made her tick. On the one hand she’s bold, stands up for herself, doesn’t give a crap about what other people think and, yet, on the other hand she’s childish, treats her parents as if they are strangers or her servants (like, could someone smack that girl and show her what respecting your parents means?) and she’s kind of full of herself. There were times I really hated this character.
I also didn’t like the love story. Orkan is written like an arrogant ass who thinks he’s God’s gift to girls and thinks he’s really funny. Ugh! Throughout the story the reader is supposed to see him change into a nice and caring guy, and although the writer keeps telling you how much he’s changed, I NEVER saw it. For me Orkan stayed rather bland and arrogant. The only part that made me kind of like him was the last couple of pages. What I did like about the love story was the curse hanging above Orkan and Ella.
When you don’t like either of the main characters that much, a book has to have something else to keep you hooked and entertained. I was hoping the tension and mystery about the visions and the curse would do that, but somehow the tension fell flat. It takes too long for Ella and Orkan to become interested in each other and when they do it’s one of those instant loves where the characters suddenly become flawless and change almost instantly. Orkan becomes good (or so we are told) and Ella becomes pretty (because she changes her wardrobe from two identical sweaters to sexy tops and a bigger, lacy bra because her boobs suddenly grow two sizes), what the heck was that about?! I really don’t mind an instant love or fast love but it has to be written in a way that makes me believe it, makes me see why these two characters suddenly find each other irresistible, and in this story this was simply not the case. I was also kind of bummed when the whole curse thing was solved rather fast and unsuspensefull.
To end on a positive note. I thought the ending was pretty good. Here I finally saw why Ella and Orkan liked each other. And I finally got a glimpse of Orkan’s changed personality. I also liked the humor throughout the story which made the book lighthearted and fun.
In short: I loved the setting, the storyworld and the magic, but I didn’t like the main characters and the love story. Maybe I’m just too old for this story and maybe younger readers will adore the love story and the main characters, but like I said this was not the story for me.
If you like folklore and magic inspired by the Orient, a young, first love story and some humor in your stories this is the book for you! If you like a little bit more maturity and complication in a love story and you’re looking for really well-developed characters this one is probably not for you.
To see what other people think about this book you can take a look at all the stops in the blogtour: http://dutchventurepublishing.com/takla-makan-blogtour/
Happy reading you all!