Friday, March 9, 2012

The Next Target by Nikki Arana (ARC)

Poor Sabira. She appears in the first chapter and dies there by the hands of an extremist. Later, her ESL teacher and the woman that brought her to Christ (Austia) is hunted down by Muslim extremists. And that, in a nutshell, is the plot of The Next Target.

Despite the whole action-packed part of the book (she's trying to escape the extremists after all), the book is primarily about Love. The love of Austia for the Muslim women, that she would willingly teach (and in some cases hide) them after her husband was killed by extremists, the love of the Rahman's her Muslim friends who risk their lives to help her and many others. This book isn't about taking sides, it's about using love to breach the gap.

Throughout the book, a distinction is made between the extremists, who are plotting to turn America Muslim by force, and the moderate Muslims, who are good, kind people. Though there are characters who exhibit intolerance, the book clearly shows that this is wrong and that we should seek to live in peace with one another. And that is one of the central messages of the book (I say one of because the other central message is freedom of religion).

Not only is the plot exciting, the characters are pretty well-thought out too. Austia is full of love, but she's also full of fear. At times, she doubts God/fears for her safety, but in the end, she is always reminded of his love and so, finds strength to press forward. Poor Fatima, married to an abusive man, is in her own way full of strength, trying to protect her baby Sami. Zaki, the double agent (I say this freely because it's revealed in the first few chapters of the book) is torn between his desire to take down the cell and to protect Austia no matter what.

The only "..." moment came about in the first few chapters, when it was revealed (by Zaki himself) that he was a double agent. I suppose that it's implausible to have him to narrate a substantial part of the story and keep deceiving the reader but having such a "twist" early in the story was a bit of a let down. But then again, without Zaki's narrative, we would have missed quite a lot of what goes on inside the cell (Fatima, being a woman, is excluded from what's going on).

All in all, I think this is an excellent book. It's different from most of the other thrillers out there (think about it, how many times can you read about secret conspiracies/ancient treasures without getting bored?) and within its action packed narrative is the timeless tale of the power of Love and the God who Loves.

Disclaimer: I got this book from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.


  1. The Next Target, is an exciting read from beginning to end. This suspenseful story is full of twists and turns, all the while accurately portraying the tension created by a lifestyle of radical Islam. Austia, a widow dedicated to improving the lot of Muslim women in her neighborhood, walks a fine line between encouraging their growth and putting those same women in jeopardy. Is she willing to die for her faith? Is she willing to put other lives at risk? Who can she trust and will she be the next target? Arana does a good job of portraying characters caught in the webs of their own culture, from her naive brother to the dedicated young Muslim men caught up in jihad to the elderly Muslims just trying to live out their faith in peace.

    1. Yup, I couldn't agree more. Thanks for commenting!



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