Official Review: Ghost Boys by Shenaaz Nanji

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Official Review: Ghost Boys by Shenaaz Nanji

Post by lavellan » 07 Apr 2018, 15:01

[Following is an official review of "Ghost Boys" by Shenaaz Nanji.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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Ghost Boys is a young adult novel written by Shenaaz Nanji. The novel opens with Munna, a young Indian boy, and his family awaiting his sister Didi’s arrival from her wedding. Instead of a joyous return, Didi is heart-broken after being rejected by her fiancé’s family due to her small dowry. Later that night, Munna seeks Didi out to comfort her, but instead discovers that she has committed suicide. Due to the shame associated with Didi’s suicide, Munna’s mother’s catering business is suffering. Munna decides to help his family by getting a job. Through his uncle Suraj, Munna finds employment in the Middle East working for a sheikh. Munna is promised extravagant working conditions and pay. The reality is far from this. Suraj has sold him to the master of a ousbah, a camel farm. In addition to his own suffering, Munna discovers that the riders of the camels, or camel boys, are purposely starved so that they remain small enough to ride the animals. Can Munna survive in the ousbah without compromising his morals? Will he be able to escape and return home to his family?

Ghost Boys was an insightful look into the camel racing industry. I had no idea of the atrocities associated with it. For example, all of the camel boys’ weights were required to remain under 40 pounds. This is especially startlingly when you consider that the oldest boy was 12 years old. My favorite character in the book is Munna. Without factoring in his struggles on the ousbah, Munna has led a difficult life. His father left him and his family in poverty. As a result, Munna was considered cursed and was forced to change his name. Despite his struggles, Munna remains a strong and optimistic boy. I admired that he stuck to his morals even when it may have been simpler to take the easy way out. Additionally, I thought that his relationship with Babur, one of the camel boys, was well-developed and added more depth to both of their characters. By the end of the story, Babur becomes vastly more confident. Another character who displayed immense character development was Akber. Akber is the best camel jockey, but he has a very negative and self-centered personality. This is understandable considering his background and his current circumstances. Through Munna’s encouragement, Akber becomes more of a team player. I also enjoyed the way that Nanji approached Master’s character. While Master was cruel to the boys, he also had his good moments. I could empathize with his sorrow about losing his family and his disgust concerning the burn marks that covered his body. I appreciate that Nanji did not make him a one-dimensional character.

One thing that bothered me about the book was the lack of quotation marks. While they were used properly most of the time, the author frequently used colons to separate dialogue or stories. While technically not incorrect, this made it difficult at times to tell where dialogue began and ended. I also would had liked to have known more about Suraj. His intentions were never completely explained. Was he completely selfish and only out to make money off Munna? Did he honestly think that he was helping Munna? While Munna’s perspective was explained in-depth, Nanji never elaborated about what happened to his family after he left India. I would have liked to have know more about how they fared emotionally and financially.

Ghost Boys contained grammatical, spelling, and formatting errors. While they were not serious enough that they detracted from my enjoyment of the book, they indicated that the book had not yet been professionally edited. One example included the repetition of the author’s note section four times.

I rate Ghost Boys 3 out of 4 stars. While I thought the story was engaging and well-written, the lack of professional editing and unanswered questions prevent me from giving it four out of four stars. I would highly recommend this book to readers interested in human rights and the Middle East. However, the book contains mentions of suicide and child-abuse. Audiences who are sensitive to such content may not want to read this book.

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Post by Mercy Bolo » 08 Apr 2018, 08:41

The moment you mentioned suicide, I gasped. I like that this book highlights the issue of human rights. Despite the errors, it's worth checking out.
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Post by chrisdon202 » 08 Apr 2018, 09:39

Good story though, despite the fact that there are some errors in the book but the book is highly educative especially for people studying human right and politics, its highly recommendable but not for kids. Good book

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Post by Irene C » 08 Apr 2018, 10:46

Thanks for this great review. Shame about the errors, but it seems like this is a well-developed look at a fascinating part of Gulf culture.
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Post by ervin081088 » 08 Apr 2018, 10:56

I have noticed that this book is lack of quotation marks, format, spelling and grammatical errors. But I think an inspiring book showing how to fight in any circumstances, don't lose hope.

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Post by kelvok2014 » 08 Apr 2018, 14:54

Ghost Boys by Shenaaz Nanji is the story of a group of boys that through different circumstances end up in an Ousbah together. All of the boys end up in the place against their will. The main character is Munna Patel, a fifteen year old boy that believes he is cursed and that he has cursed his entire family. Munna is an Indian teenage boy who lives in poverty with his family. His father had ran away and never returned again. After his sister Didi commits suicide, his family had no money to pay for the funeral or to give his sisters a honorable dowry to get married. After a series of devastating events at home, Munna leaves with the man he calls Uncle for what he believes is a job in the Palace. After discovering he was actually sold into slavery he starts plotting his escape. Plans to escape are met with obstacles like developing feelings for the boys in his care at the Ousbah and meeting a girl. Munna learns much about himself, his morals, and working for the greater good from his experience in the Ousbah.
Munna is a truly phenomenal character, and I commend Shenaaz for writing a book with mostly all male characters. Overall, this was a wonderful YA action adventure novel.

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Post by JuliaKay » 08 Apr 2018, 15:57

The story draws attention to a topic that many Americans are probably unaware of. Indian culture is so different than many others, and it is worth learning more about. From what I understand of the culture, the shame from a family member committing suicide would be almost unbearable to the family, aside from the loss itself. Young boys being starved so they are lighter for the camels is also atrocious. This story highlights the struggles than many of us are ignorant of for different cultures.
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Post by KLafser » 08 Apr 2018, 17:54

Goodness, it sounds heart-wrenching across the board. I am a fan of books that show another culture, no matter how difficult. I had no idea camel racing was so competitive to have such atrocities. Thanks for the review, I look forward to reading this one!

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Post by kandscreeley » 09 Apr 2018, 08:28

I don't think I've ever heard about a story like this before. I think you got me at "insightful look into the camel racing industry." You don't hear about that talked of much in books. It's something so unique I think I'll have to look at it. Thanks!
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Post by Libs_Books » 12 Apr 2018, 08:46

You explain well why you think the book is worth reading, but I'm not sure that it's right for me - maybe if there had been more about the whole family. I like the way you balance the book's strengths and weaknesses.

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Post by KrisKay » 13 Apr 2018, 19:30

I don't think this book is for me. maybe I would have liked it 5 years ago. I'm always up for a mystery

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Post by crediblereading2 » 16 Apr 2018, 17:55

Very good review. The author has given us a screenshot view of Indian society, and some of its customs. I wish the story would have factored in on what happened to Munna's family after he left them to go seek a job. Suraj's true intentions towards Didi should have also been explained.

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Post by Eileen R » 19 Apr 2018, 12:18

It's a pity for such a great book like this one to be filled with so many errors. I think that it really has some great points. I love that it's very informative about another culture. I'll definitely try it out.

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Post by bnoy » 29 Apr 2018, 01:30

This book sounds fascinating and seems to cover a broad range of issues and themes. I'm really glad that they are being discussed, especially in the area occupied for young adults. It is a pity that there are so many errors, but the story seems worth the read, nonetheless.

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Post by KrisKay » 03 May 2018, 03:28

Sorry I'll rate Ghost Boys, 1½ out of 4. I'm much of mysterious type of girl. You know what would have been fantastic? If Munna's sister's suicide was actually staged and she was murdered instead. Lol my type of reading.

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