The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf just may be the most surprising book I’ve read so far this year. I really didn’t know what to expect after the synopsis, but when I first began I thought this might just be a typical dystopia – but I was absolutely blown away by the depth, plot, and characters.
Ashala is a runaway and an Illegal – a person who has special abilities, who has not been tested, among other things. When she ran away, she created a tribe for other runaways like her. But she has been betrayed. On an errand she was captured by the Chief Administrator Neville Rose, a man who needs to destroy the tribe and has a powerful machine that will expose all her secrets. She isn’t alone though, she’s been accompanied by her betrayer, Justin Connor. But can the Tribe survive without Ashala? And even more frightening, can it survive her interrogation?
So from the excerpt I wasn’t sure what to expect – something that may revolve around her betrayer, Justin. But what I got instead was so much better. The emphasis was not only on Ashala as a character, but her memories that made her who she is and her relationship to the Tribe. As the leader, she provides the biggest puzzle piece to how the Tribe works, and through her eyes and memories, we are introduced into this world and into the Tribe.
To start with, I loved all the characters. Ashala is so fierce and self-sacrificing throughout the entire book and it’s no wonder you don’t fall in love with her too. (Ashala suffers from panic attacks and is a woman of color, but these are not discussed extensively in this book). I was the most surprised by Justin’s character as he has more going on than meets the eyes. But I loved, maybe even more, Ashala’s two friends: Ember and Georgie. I will not spoil it for you, but they are absolutely precious, wise, and supportive.
The World Building
“The Point was that no one ever knows when something they say will cause a profound change in somebody else”.
The premise of the world is fascinating, but also frankly terrifying. It brings up real questions about a person’s worth and how we de-value or de-humanize certain people. Who is (il)legal? How do we treat them? While race seems not to be an issue in this world, they have chosen other traits to persecute – namely those with abilities. While at first I felt it was like a human versus mutant thing – kind of like X-Men – what actually unfolds is something else entirely, bringing in legends, and the government, and resistance with ideas. Taking place in the future, this book has some eerie similarities that you can’t help but wonder about – namely the categorization of people, the government rhetoric, and the way people have turned a blind eye.
“Our songs say humans fear difference, and when they are afraid, they will find a way to destroy what they fear”.
The plot consistently surprised me – serving up new surprises, both in terms of mystery, but also depth. There were always new events to read about and new secrets to unlock. But even more so, there were also different themes introduced as well as character moments that made the entire book richer and more dimensional. There were also so many great quote worthy moments, as well as fantastic writing twists.
The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is not only an entertaining read that takes you on a trip full of ups and downs, surprises, and twists, but also a book that makes you think about the nature of hate, the power of resistance, and the potential of humanity. And I only anticipate it getting better.
You can get The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf for yourself from Amazon(US), your local indie, and add it to Goodreads.
Would you ever become a leader?
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2 thoughts on “Review: The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina”
This isn’t the kind of book I usually go for but your review piques my interest. Your writing often does that 🙂
Sounds like an interesting stand-alone book, and maybe an amazing series, too! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Have to keep an eye on it and see how it grows.