Thursday, July 04, 2013

Review: Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea

Girls of RiyadhGirls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Riyadh, for personal reasons, is a place that is near and dear to my heart and since I needed another book for my Muslim reading challenge, I thought I should give Girls of Riyadh a try.

Girls of Riyadh had a lot of hype and controversy when it first came out. Some people blasted it for exposing unIslamic stuff, while others praised it for being a modern Saudi novel that shows how Saudis are really like.

So when I opened up the book, I was expecting to either be shocked and intrigued by all of the stuff that's actually happening in Saudi, or angry that it was just a book that's meant appease the West as it bad mouths Muslims. Or, I'd be surprisingly pleased at the balanced look it gave to my Saudi.

Now that I'm done, I'm not shocked, I'm not intrigued, I'm not angry, and I'm not pleased. I don't really feel anything. I think one of the biggest reasons for this is due to the hype surrounding this novel. I had big expectations and none of them were fulfilled.

Girls of Riyadh is just Gossip Girls without the sex and alcohol. It's the lives of privileged Saudi women who try to find their place in the world. Only, it's not really that. It's actually a story of four women, one of them tries to complete her dreams, while the rest fall in love, get hurt, and become bitter about men and love.

As a Muslim, marriage is a big thing to us. Everyone, men and women, want to find that special someone so they can be married and fulfill the hadith (traditions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)) where he said that marriage is 'half of ones deen (religion).'

It's a pretty big deal, so I did enjoy reading about the girls obsessing over that. But then, it got to the point where their lives were dictated by the men that they love. And once it didn't work out, they'd be an emotional wreck until the next guy comes.

It got boring after awhile. Out of the four, only one doesn't fall in this trap and surprisingly enough is the only one who ends up happy in love and not scorned.

By itself, Girls of Riyadh isn't a bad novel. It flows well and it will keep you reading, but if you've read up on all of the controversy surrounding this book, you might end up disappointed when you find that this is just a regular run of the mill chick lit.

I dunno. I just expected more.

2 stars out of 5