Four years after the events of The Gauntlet, Ahmad Mirza is in the principal’s office–again. This time, his sister has sent a video game to his school, and the last person he expects steals it for him. Next thing they knew, they’re stuck in a familiar world that Ahmad thought only existed in his dreams.
Why this book?: I loved the first book.
Thank you to Lili Feinberg and Salaam Reads for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
The Gauntlet wormed it’s way into my heart by it’s charming similarity to my childhood favorite movie Jumanji (1995). I loved it’s puzzles and the characters as well as it’s simplistic writing. The Battle lost the pieces I enjoyed from the first, making it more similar to the Jumanji (2017) remake then the original. While I still enjoyed the story and characters overall, it felt less developed and disconnected from the first one in a way that made it difficult to enjoy.
With the end of The Gauntlet, I was curious as to how Riazi would continue the story without making a completely different game. However, I thought it was clever how she built Paheli back up from the first book, as well as how it changed. While a few questions were left unanswered (How did the Mastermind make it into Paheli after it was destroyed?), there weren’t so many of them that I found it frustrating to read. I also enjoyed how characters from the first were called back, even for brief appearances. While some of them seemed unnecessary, I don’t think that they were overall bad additions–just something to make the book longer, in a way.
Riazi’s writing was fairly similar to what it was in The Gauntlet, which was fairly simplistic and uncomplicated, which is what I was honestly expecting for a middle grade novel. The characters felt less developed then they were in the first book, and it was established Ahmad had no friends, but then this girl from his class was willing to get in trouble for him and join him on this adventure. Just as I mentioned before, a few parts of this story didn’t make much sense or they didn’t fit together, leaving questions unanswered.
Final Rating: ★★★★☆
I enjoyed this book, but that was about it. I loved the callbacks to the first one, and how some of the characters were brought back. However, I also thought some scenes were unnecessary, and some important questions were never really answered, which was somewhat frustrating. So, while overall I enjoyed this book, I wish there was more development, and less focus on callbacks to the first book.
Would I Recommend?
If you enjoyed the first one, I think you’ll still enjoy this one. Some of my favorite characters from the first one reappeared, but it’s also fairly different, as many of the characters (such as the trio of friends from the first one) never reappeared. I feel like the best way to describe this book is enjoyable, but missing some key ingredients.
Published: August 27th, 2019
Publisher: Salaam Reads / Simon Schuster Books
Page Count: 304
Genre: Middle Grade/Fantasy
Synopsis: via Goodreads
The game begins again in this gripping follow-up to The Gauntlet that’s a futuristic middle eastern Zathura meets Ready Player One!
Four years after the events of The Gauntlet, the evil game Architect is back with a new partner-in-crime—The MasterMind—and the pair aim to get revenge on the Mirza clan. Together, they’ve rebuilt Paheli into a slick, mind-bending world with floating skyscrapers, flying rickshaws run by robots, and a digital funicular rail that doesn’t always take you exactly where you want to go.
Twelve-year-old Ahmad Mirza struggles to make friends at his new middle school, but when he’s paired with his classmate Winnie for a project, he is determined to impress her and make his very first friend. At home while they’re hard at work, a gift from big sister Farah—who is away at her first year in college—arrives. It’s a high-tech game called The Battle of Blood and Iron, a cross between a video game and board game, complete with virtual reality goggles. He thinks his sister has solved his friend problem—all kids love games. He convinces Winnie to play, but as soon as they unbox the game, time freezes all over New York City.
With time standing still and people frozen, all of humankind is at stake as Ahmad and Winnie face off with the MasterMind and the Architect, hoping to beat them at their own game before the evil plotters expand Paheli and take over the entire world.