Author: Karuna Riazi
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Salaam Reads
Format: paperback ARC
Source: Simon & Schuster Canada
A trio of friends from New York City find themselves trapped inside a mechanical board game that they must dismantle in order to save themselves and generations of other children in this action-packed debut that’s a steampunk Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair.
When twelve-year-old Farah and her two best friends get sucked into a mechanical board game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand—a puzzle game akin to a large Rubik’s cube—they know it’s up to them to defeat the game’s diabolical architect in order to save themselves and those who are trapped inside, including her baby brother Ahmed. But first they have to figure out how.
Under the tutelage of a lizard guide named Henrietta Peel and an aeronaut Vijay, the Farah and her friends battle camel spiders, red scorpions, grease monkeys, and sand cats as they prepare to face off with the maniacal Lord Amari, the man behind the machine. Can they defeat Amari at his own game…or will they, like the children who came before them, become cogs in the machine? (Goodreads)
*I received a copy of this book from Simon&Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion.*
You know that feel when a book is pitched to you as something and then you read it and get that PLUS even more awesome than you anticipated? That was The Gauntlet for me. I was told it’s basically diverse Jumanji and it was that but it felt like it was even better than I remember Jumanji being!
First thing’s first…adventure. There was no shortage of that in this book. There are puzzles, monsters, bad guys, mysterious yet helpful strangers. The Gauntlet has everything you need to feel like you’ve just embarked on a giant quest yourself. It also reminded me a lot of my favourite video games, The Legend of Zelda and Pokemon, in some respects. Finish your task, head back and regroup, embark on a mission to find your next one. If you’re a fan of Middle Grade in part for the amazing adventures it serves up, this book is definitely for you.
The characters were also absolutely amazing. Not only were they great by themselves but the relationships among them were also so awesome. Farah and her brother have a relationship so similar to what I have with my own brother that I was immediately drawn to them. It’s the “ugh annoying” younger brother that you’re still super fiercely protective of and it was so familiar and heartwarming to read. The bond between Farah and her friends is also often. They show that even if you sometimes drift apart of don’t see each other often you can still be close and care for the others.
This was an amazing read at every turn of the page. There was tons of adventure, friendship, intrigue, and FOOD. Seriously, I was warned by the S&S Canada team that it would make me hungry but OMG. I highly recommend The Gauntlet to lovers of adventures, middle grade books, or both. DO NOT MISS OUT ON THIS BOOK!