Reviews

Review: Sofia Khan Duology – Ayisha Malik

Hello everyone! Today is going to be a bit of a different review, since I will be reviewing two books of the Sofia Khan duology! I’ll be giving separate ratings and writing separate reviews, but will also write how I felt about the series on the whole. Thus, if you want to, you can just read the first review of the first book, if you don’t want to get spoilers in the second book review.

I decided to read both of the books for Asian Lit Bingo because I was really hyped about this series. A series about dating is quite cute, so I was looking forward to the adventure. The series is #ownvoices.

Sofia Khan is not obliged
Book cover: Sofia stands on one side of the title wearing a red headscarf and her love interest on the other side wearing a grey scarf around his neck.

‘Brilliant idea! Excellent! Muslim dating? Well, I had no idea you were allowed to date.’ Then he leaned towards me and looked at me sympathetically. ‘Are your parents quite disappointed?’

Unlucky in love once again after her possible-marriage-partner-to-be proves a little too close to his parents, Sofia Khan is ready to renounce men for good. Or at least she was, until her boss persuades her to write a tell-all expose about the Muslim dating scene.

As her woes become her work, Sofia must lean on the support of her brilliant friends, baffled colleagues and baffling parents as she goes in search of stories for her book. In amongst the marriage-crazy relatives, racist tube passengers and decidedly odd online daters, could there be a a lingering possibility that she might just be falling in love . . . ?

Sofia Khan is not Obliged is the hilarious and authentic debut novel by Ayisha Malik.

The writing in Sofia Khan is not Obliged is light and funny. It makes fun of stereotypes, makes sarcastic comments about racism and Islamantagonism, and lends a jokey flair to Sofia’s problems. I enjoyed this a lot, as I hardly every find adult books that aren’t totally sad and emotional and tear-jerky. This was a feel-good book for a change, and I really wish that there were more adult books like this one.

I also liked the fact that she took her time with dating and looked for someone that she would be happy with.

However, I was not a fan of the ableist and fatantagonistic comments and remarks that Sofia made throughout the book, which were never called out or reflected on.

There was also one aroantagonistic comment: “One of the issues about the whole “being alone” stance is not having anyone to share the world’s problems with.” You don’t need a romantic partner to do this, you can share your troubles with non-romantic partners as well! I know that some people might read it as saying that this someone could be a friend, but in context she is talking about a romantic partner.

There were several aceantagonistic comments: “I mean, is my state of perpetual virginity unnatural? Fine, yes.” and also a scene where she googles whether not having sex has an adverse effect on a person’s health. In both scenes, the possibilitiy of being asexual or sex-averse as well as the fact that it’s not unhealthy to not have sex are not mentioned.

Trigger warning: colorism, ableist language, fatantagonistic language, aceantagonistic language, aroantagonistic language.

2-stars
2 stars

The microaggressions kind of ruined the book for me as there quite a few of them. So I ended up giving this book 2 stars. I actually wouldn’t have read the second book, but I had bought it already, so I decided to see if it was better.


Spoilers for Sofia Khan is not Obliged!!!

The other half of happiness
Book cover: Sofia’s hand holds a red scarf with a golden patterns which turns in a plain blue scarf and is held by the hand of her love interest.

Sofia Khan is just married. But no-one told her life was going to be this way . . .

Her living situation is in dire straits, her husband Conall is distant, and his annoyingly attractive colleague is ringing all sorts of alarm bells.

When her mother forces them into a belated wedding ceremony (elopement: you can run, but you can’t hide), Sofia wonders if it might be a chance to bring them together. But when it forces Conall to confess his darkest secret, it might just tear them apart.

A book to make you smile, laugh and cry, this is the story of a mixed-race marriage and a mixed-up family, for anyone who’s ever struggled to balance their pride with their principles, or stuck around to try to mend a broken heart.

First off, I found the cover of The Other Half of Happiness beautiful. I love how it changes halfway. Really gorgeous!

It was interesting to see the relationship between Conall and Sofia, and how it changed as they got to know each other better and how it didn’t magically become amazing after that. However, even though their lives change throughout the book, there isn’t really any character growth. They are the same people as before even though there were so many dramatic events.

It was wonderful how candidly Islamantagonism and racism are discussed in this book again, and also how she learns that she has priviledges that other people don’t have.

The part about this book that I loved most is (highlight for spoiler): that Sofia and Conall broke up!!! It’s such an affirming possibility! I thought it was actually a happy ending because Sofia ends up doing what she wants and what she knows is best for her!

However, the minor characters didn’t have proper story arcs in this book. We don’t find out how life goes on for Sofia’s friends after her drama starts, which I found really disappointing!

Again this book had ableist and fatantagonistic language, which isn’t called out.

Trigger warnings: bombings, fatantagonistic language, ableist language.

3-stars
3 stars

I ended up giving The Other Half of Happiness 3 stars because I did enjoy it more than the first book but there were still aspects that I didn’t care for at all. However, the ending is amazing!


All in all, I had an enjoyable time reading the Sofia Khan series but there were quite a lot of microaggressions throughout the book. I do think that they are fun books and I really wish that sensitivity readers had been used.

Have you read the Sofia Khan series? What do you think of them?

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4 thoughts on “Review: Sofia Khan Duology – Ayisha Malik

  1. Thanks so much for reviewing these. I didn’t pick them up because they were compared to the Bridget Jones’ Diary series which I strongly disliked. Unfortunately it sounds like they also have some of the same problems.

    Have you read Saints and Misfits? My review won’t go up for a few weeks yet, but I really enjoyed the way it handled a difficult topic – that and Amina’s Voice are my favorite Muslim reps novels this year so far.

    Like

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