ARC REVIEW: The Loophole by Naz Kutub

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The Loophole
by Naz Kutub
Releasing on June 21st, 2022
Published by Bloomsbury YA
Young Adult Fiction—Contemporary, Fantasy > Magical Realism

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Your wish is granted! This YA debut is equal parts broken-hearted love story, epic myth retelling, and a world-journey romp to find home.

Sy is a timid seventeen-year-old queer Indian-Muslim boy who placed all his bets at happiness on his boyfriend Farouk…who then left him to try and “fix the world.” Sy was too chicken to take the plunge and travel with him and is now stuck in a dead-end coffee shop job. All Sy can do is wish for another chance… Although he never expects his wish to be granted.

When a mysterious girl slams into (and slides down, streaks of make-up in her wake) the front entrance of the coffee shop, Sy helps her up and on her way. But then the girl offers him three wishes in exchange for his help, and after proving she can grant at least one wish with a funds transfer of a million dollars into Sy’s pitifully struggling bank account, a whole new world of possibility opens up. Is she magic? Or just rich? And when his father kicks him out after he is outed, does Sy have the courage to make his way from L. A., across the Atlantic Ocean, to lands he’d never even dreamed he could ever visit? Led by his potentially otherworldly new friend, can he track down his missing Farouk for one last, desperate chance at rebuilding his life and re-finding love?

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Disclaimer: I was provided a physical galley by the publisher in return for my honest review and for the purpose of handselling once available on shelves. This does not affect my opinion.

The Loophole is a witty, adventurous story mixed with the darker moments that tug at one’s heartstrings. Following a queer, Indian-Muslim teen, readers cannot help but wish they could step into the book themselves.

Noticeable straight from the start is the prominent voice of the main character, Sayyed. Sy’s character was one that drew readers to the page. He spoke often of struggles he lived with, such as his abusive, religious father; his ex-boyfriend whom he wanted back but could not get ahold of; his extremely worried mother and headstrong sister; and suddenly, a girl who has the power to grant three of his wishes. Naz Kutub made it clear that not a single one of his characters would lack in development. However, while it was enjoyable seeing each and every character stand out in their own ways on the pages, in terms of Reggie’s character, it did feel a bit repetitive at times.

Sy went through a lot in this story, and it brought the reader to a place to realize that not everything will end up in a fantasy-like ending with a pretty bow tied on it. The world is a rough place to live, and sometimes one just has to move on from past experiences. The plot of this book took a bit of time to truly develop into what it needed to get to the ending Kutub had planned. It was both amusing and heart-clenching throughout the story, and that was very special to see in this book.

Furthermore, the pacing of this book was a bit difficult at times. The Loophole started off quick. Readers are thrust into the story and pulled in with a solid hook. But upon Reggie and Sy falling into the movement of the story, the book slowed. At times, it did feel like it dragged a bit, while at others, it felt like the slower pacing was needed to really emphasize some of Sy’s realizations and experiences.

Lastly, Naz Kutub has a very unique writing style, in that he is able to capture the emotions and feelings woven into the book while also keeping readers’ attention glued to the pages. He demands one to pay attention, to read between the lines and to listen. And when it finally came time for one to say goodbye to the story, he left it on a hopeful note.

Overall, The Loophole was a whirlwind adventure with a lot of lessons and memories to make. For that, I rate this book 4.25 stars. I look forward to whatever Naz might bring forth next!

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DELETENaz Kutub is a half-Indian, half-Malay immigrant from Singapore. His debut novel, The Loophole, was inspired by his personal experiences growing up as a gay Muslim, and as someone raised on a calorie-dense diet of Eastern lore.

Find him on:

INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | AUTHOR WEBSITE


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