Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Jihadi, A Love Story - Yusuf Toropov

"A former intelligence agent stands accused of terrorism, held without charge in a secret overseas prison. His memoir is in the hands of a brilliant but erratic psychologist whose annotations paint a much darker picture. As the story unravels, we are forced to assess the truth for ourselves, and decide not only what really happened on one fateful overseas assignment but who is the real terrorist. Peopled by a diverse and unforgettable cast of characters, whose reliability as narrators is always questioned, and with a multi-layered plot heaving with unexpected and often shocking developments, Jihadi: A Love Story is an intelligent thriller that asks big questions.

Complex, intriguing and intricately woven, this is an astonishing debut that explores the nature of good and evil alongside notions of nationalism, terrorism and fidelity, and, above all, the fragility of the human mind."

I can always rely on Orenda Books to send me quality books to review - stuff that pushes me out of my comfort zone, but this one really stretched me. I wasn't at all sure whether I would enjoy it, despite a cracking blurb. All I can say now, after finishing it, is WOW. A difficult, complex read that took me longer than average to read (possibly because I felt the need to let things digest between chapters), this was actually a brilliant read. It's a complicated read, so don't pick it up thinking you'll whizz through it in a weekend, because you won't, but it was one that slowly reeled me in until I felt like I had no option but to read to the end. 
Even now, a week after I've finished reading, I still don't know whose side of the story is the true one - the novel is written in the form of a manuscript, written by unreliable narrator, which is then annotated by ANOTHER unreliable narrator - see what I mean by complicated? Both sides are equally believable, and while some things that are written are slightly distasteful, or shocking, it didn't stop me from enjoying it. I've been left mulling things over, thinking about circumstances and the characters, long after I've finished the book. That, to me, can only be a good thing. 

Jihadi - A Love Story is out now and you can get it here:

**My thanks to the publisher for my ARC**

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