This was a very topical novel that I read for the new release square. It was about a seventeen-year-old girl called Sofia, from London, who moves to Syria to further the Islamic cause. Her father follows her over in order to try and persuade her to come home. We therefore have a duel narrative.
Aside from what you might think in regards to a book with such a topical theme, I found it lacking in substance somewhat.
When we meet Sofia she’s very ardent in her belief of the cause and this got a bit repetitive. Every problem she encounters is a test and she twists every event to suit the Koran.
She marries almost as soon as she arrives in Syria and also works for a type of militia at the same time. She begins communicating with a girl via twitter, who is actually her father (this happens early on) and using the internet as a means to locate her. The people surrounding her are always called brother and sister (hence the title), but this is where any sense of community between them ends. The majority of her associates, even a man she marries, are distant, cold and often violent. They have clearly been ravaged by war, resulting in warped personalities. Sofia continues to rationalise every occurrence she doesn’t agree with until her father finds her. This was the part of the novel I struggled with the most. There was much anger from Sofia towards her father and I kept waiting for this to be expanded on. Eventually when the two of them were alone this issue of animosity was discussed, but it was light on detail and substance. What I really couldn’t get past was Sofia’s about turn soon after she saw her father. All past discretion's were seemingly forgotten and Sofia, someone who was ardent in her beliefs, dropped them very quickly in an effort to escape. I admit, there was a very good reason for her to do this, but it just felt too easy.
Sofia’s narrative and her fathers were interesting, if a little scant. There didn’t feel like a huge amount of depth to them. Events were interesting and there were a couple of occasions were I was shocked, but except for the fact that I learnt some new things, it wasn’t great. The characters lacked much depth and the ending was a little predictable.
I read this for the new release square.