First, let me say that I got a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It in no way changes my opinions on this book.
The Gauntlet is an own voices middle grade fantasy that’s adeptly compared to Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair. It follows twelve year old Farah as she has to find her seven year old brother Ahmad, who has ADHD and has fallen into the game The Gauntlet. Farah and her two friends have to win all the challenges to win the game. If they win, they can get out. If they lose, they are stuck there forever.
I loved every character in this book. From Farah to The Architect (the master of the game) to the giant talking lizards I liked each of their personalities and how that fit into the book. The three friends Farah, Ellie, and Alex had that whole this is their one trait and everything they do kind of reflects on that. Usually that annoys me, but not this time. I think it helped that with the challenges they had to do it wasn’t just one person having a specialty in that challenge. They all had to work together.
Speaking of the challenges they had to do, I liked them. I thought they were interesting. Though on the second on I’m still not sure what they were doing. It was a little hard to picture.
The reveal of who The Architect was surprised me. I was suspecting a completely different person, but it all made sense looking back. Which is the best really when you are surprised but it still makes perfect sense.
The description was wonderful. Though there was one part were Farah thinks that she is just too tired and frightened to take anymore in, but then proceeds with a full page of description. But, the food that was described sounded great. I have no idea what any of it was, but it makes me want to look it all up and try it.
This is Riazi’s debut novel, and I think she knocked it out of the park. It doesn’t say anything about there being a sequel anywhere, but I think there is room for one. The end left some strings out there that could be tied. Though there is one big question I have that feels less like oh maybe if there’s a sequel it would be addressed, and more like eh I think you forgot something. So I wish I had an answer for that.
Overall, this book was a fun, fast read. I read it in one sitting, and I give it five stars. I think both kids and adults can read this and enjoy it equally. It’s definitely a book I would recommend.