Book Review: Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Reading more #ownvoices novels is one of my main resolutions of 2018. I`m also trying to keep up with more new releases, so when I read the premise of "Love, Hate & Other Filters" I was intrigued. It`s about Maya Aziz, a 17-year-old Muslim girl from a small town in Illinois. She`s trapped between being the perfect Indian daughter and doing what she wants, filmmaking. After a terrorist attack Maya`s world is turned upside down and for the first time, she`s the victim of Islamophobia.

On paper, I should have loved this book. It features an Indian Muslim main character, and it also touches an important and problematic aspect of today`s society. Sadly, Islamophobia and hate crimes are very much present. Obviously, I can`t speak for the rep and it`s something that has not affected me, but that doesn't mean I don`t want to know more about what goes on in the world. Books like this are very important, but I can`t help but feel that the author did a terrible job of conveying such an important message. Because the novel is too focused on romance. The terrorist attack takes place midway through the book, so until then it reads like a regular YA. Which is not that bad, but the book was marketed as something else.

Let`s get down to the stupid romance, shall we? At the beginning of the book, Maya meets Kareem, the ideal future Indian husband. He`s the type of guy her conservative parents would adore. Personally, I liked him and wish we saw more of him. Sadly, Maya was still pining after her high-school crush, Phil. And for a short while, we have a totally unnecessary love-triangle, that takes way too much space. I`m not saying that Maya should have stayed with Kareem, but at least they had something in common. No matter what, I could not get on board with Phil. At the beginning, he still has a girlfriend, and no matter how horrible she is, I don`t condone emotional cheating. And that`s what Phil and Maya did. This is a common trope in YA contemporary nowadays, but it`s not OK. You owe it to the other person to end before you start something new, even if they`re not good people.

As for Maya, I`m conflicted about her. Like I said, I did not like that she was a sick puppy for a guy in a relationship. A guy with whom she had nothing in common. I also found her very rude to her parents sometimes. Yes, they were controlling, but that was not the way to speak to them. But my biggest problem when it comes to Maya is that I did not see how she views her religion or ethnical background. Which were crucial considering the plot. We don`t see her pray or do any religious things. And I get it, not everyone`s the same. But at the same time, I wanted to know her beliefs, especially after the attack. There`s one time when her parents go to the Mosque to pray for the victims, and she`s so against it. Why? Like I said, I can`t speak for the rep, but I`ve checked some Goodreads reviews by Muslim readers, and they felt that the representation was handled poorly.

On the plus side, I adored all of the old movie references. I love black and white movies, so it was nice to see them play such a big part in Maya`s life. I also loved her aunt, Hina. She was independent and did what she wanted, without the fear of repercussions. I also liked Maya`s best friend, Violet.

Sadly, I can`t give this book more than 2 stars. The funny thing is that I might have given it 3 stars if it was a typical YA contemporary. But when you decide to address Islamophobia and hate crimes, you should focus on the message, and not on the romance. Or at least that`s how I see it: a wasted opportunity to deliver an important message. 

4 comments :

  1. Sorry to hear you didn't really enjoy this one. It does sound like it was trying too hard to be two different types of books, and I'd really rather not read about the love triangle. LOL

    -lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I had so high expectations and it was so underwhelming.

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  2. Oh no! I didn't realise how much the romance overtook everything else! :(

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