Azad (The Candle and the Flame) follows an intersectionally diverse group of 11 teen girls, “made of whimsy and lemon,” who are bound together by various traumas and the magic of the stars embedded in their palms. With this magic, they travel through the Between, a realm whose doors each lead “to a different city in the world,” and roam the Earth as Wild Ones to heal, save, and collect those who have also suffered. On one of their trips, they learn that Taraana—the Keeper of the Between, who first gave their leader Paheli their stars—is in grave danger, hunted by those who wish to harvest his tears, “the purest form of magic that can exist.” In order to protect their magic and the safe haven it has created, they must fight for Taraana. Mixing flowery prose in alternating, introspective first-person and collective narrations that sometimes prove confusing, Azad writes a sprawling feminist fantasy with themes of trauma, violence against women, and the importance of sisterhood. Ages 14–up. Agent: Katelyn Detweiler, Jill Grinberg Literary. (Aug.)
"A stunning addition to the world's greatest feminist power novels, THE WILD ONES delivers a careful, heart-heavy tale about the myriad meanings of sisterhood. About the things that shape us into who we are. And it's done using prose so lyrical you could dance to it.
Nafiza Azad's characters are bold, empowered, and poetic in their own right, all of which is couched inside such beautiful vulnerability. Paheli's story is one for all but it's also a gift placed directly into the palms of readers of color.
THE WILD ONES swept me away."
Utterly unique storytelling. The Wild Ones is just as magical as the girls and cities found within its pages, weaving together a tale that refuses to flinch.
"Prose as lush and as beautiful as the world of the In Between, it's easy to get lost in Azad's feminist fantasy The Wild Ones, where diamonds exist as magic and every doorway leads to the oldest cities in the world."
"Absolutely gorgeous from the inside out. With lyrical prose that left me in awe and characters that I adored from the very first page."
"Azad's writing is gorgeous, and this cast of characters is remarkably easy to fall in love with."
"The Wild Ones is a stunning tale of resilience, tenderness, and fierce wildness, all rendered in Azad’s exquisite prose—a symphony of a novel."
The Wild Ones will take you on a journey of staunch sisterhood that unapologetically tackles societies’ ugliest flaws with resilience and a fierce feminism. Azad’s lyrical prose as well as her enchanting and frequently mouth-watering imagery will stay with you long after you are done.
"Unapologetically brown and fiercely feminist, The Wild Ones is a fantasy with teeth: one that does the genre the greatest justice by acknowledging its ability to call to task painful legacies and institutionalized wrongs, while giving the reader a brilliant, beautifully worded whirlwind of an adventure alongside Paheli and her sisters. Readers will find their own hearts aching and enchanted with every single page turn. This is an incredible addition to the modern young adult canon, and once again marks Nafiza Azad as a storyteller to recognize and respect."
"To read Nafiza Azad’s The Wild Ones is to journey into a literary spice shop, a space full of bright colours and sharp tastes, where bitterness leaves the delicate taste of hope on the tongue, and the acrid burn of reality is sweetened by love, friendship, and the resiliency the human spirit. Tragic and triumphant, lush and lyrical, The Wild Ones will linger with readers long after the last page has been read."
“The Wild Ones is a breathtakingly unique story of empowerment, perseverance, and the magic of sisterhood. Azad’s exquisite prose and captivating voice will enchant readers for years to come. An astonishing literary jewel not to be missed!
Gr 10 Up—Paheli was the first of The Wild Ones—women who have been rescued by "the boy of stars"—but she is far from the last. With the gift to travel between worlds, Paheli rescues other women, forming The Wild Ones as they in turn rescue others who have been abused and abandoned. Unique in its structure, Azad's novel alternates between the stories of the women of color who are recruited to join The Wild Ones and their quest to rescue "the boy of stars" who first saved Paheli and gave them the gift of magic. Part fairy-tale and part manifesto, this is a lyrical testament to sisterhood and the strength of survivors, filled with a diverse cast of complex characters and an intricate magic system. VERDICT Purchase where fantasy with strong female protagonists fly.—India Winslow, formerly at Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, MA
Belonging to neither the human nor middle worlds, the Wild Ones navigate the magical corridor of the Between.
These women have been victims of violence, exploitation, and betrayal. Paheli, the leader and original Wild One, survived sexual assault engineered by her opportunistic mother. Imbued with special abilities by the stars on their palms, the Wild Ones wander and delight in the magic of old cities, sensory wonders, and the freedom to live their lives while helping and collecting others who have experienced despair. They soon discover a dangerous truth: Taraana, the Keeper of the Between and the source of their stars, is being targeted by one who wishes to harvest his magic. His death would end their abilities as well as cause the collapse of the Between and magic itself. To intervene, Paheli must face years of trauma and risk her heart. Azad’s lush narrative weaves a digressive story that questions patriarchal notions the world (and time) over. Perspectives shift throughout, from Paheli’s voice and origin stories of the Wild Ones told in the first-person to the third-person collective of the Wild Ones. The prose is ornate and often purposely vague while also deliberately focused more on inner turmoil than external plot-driven threats, reinforcing ideas around the internalization of trauma and saving oneself. The internationally diverse cast, mostly people of color, includes queer people.
A powerful feminist account of sisterhood, the longevity of pain, and the reclamation of power. (Fantasy. 14-18)