Thrill for the week: Those People Next Door by Kia Abdullah

In Kia Abdullah’s latest, Those People Next Door, she gives something slightly different from her other books. She still has written a thought-provoking psychological thriller and courtroom drama with her trademark twist, but she adds more drama to the story while exploring class, race, aggression, community dynamics, and neighbors misbehaving, and the underbelly of a picture-perfect suburban town.

What is going on between the cover

Salma and Bil and their son Zain moved to a quieter suburban neighborhood looking for a fresh start, but they don’t start off on a good foot with their neighbors when an anti-racist banner is taken down, and it’s assumed it is an act of racism. Things quickly escalate as each family reacts to the other’s behavior. ~ Brenda

The Khatun’s move into a tight-knit community looking for a fresh start. Not long after the awkward initial neighbourhood party, they spot their next door neighbour ripping out an anti-racist sign they have in their front garden. Confronting the next door neighbour begins a neighbourhood battle that ends in violence, drastically changing everyone’s life. ~Lindsay

My two cents

Kia Abdullah does a great job delving into the complexities of human nature, examining how suspicion and prejudice can influence our perceptions and actions. She shows us both sides of the neighbor’s actions and thoughts through the characters’ POVs, allowing us to question their motivation. We are left to wonder if it is motivated by prejudice or something else on both sides. Plenty of drama in the back-and-forth battle between the two families sometimes felt cringy instead of building the suspense about what they would do next. I almost didn’t want to know, which took away from the tension between the families.

Some hills are worth dying on, and some are worth walking down from, and how things escalate to that final twist felt over the top, and I had a hard time buying into the character’s behavior and motivations’ taking away that believability element that this could happen in the story. In the end, this was not a hill worth dying on but one worth walking down however that is one of the things for readers to think about, making this one a great one to think deeply about.

Overall there are some great messages examined through the themes. The pacing was spot on and kept me turning the pages as fast as I could, and the final twist lived up to Kia Abdullah’s trademark.

I received a copy from the publisher on NetGalley

Lindsay’s two cents

A multi-layered neighbourhood/courtroom drama.

As with all of this authors work, heavy themes and thought-provoking intense scenarios are presented and explored. Emotions take hold of these characters decisions and things escalate toward grave consequences. This book takes neighbourhood drama to a whole new level.

This was one of my most highly anticipated reads this year. While I enjoyed it for the most part, this is my least favourite book by this author. The intensity was nowhere near as impactful as her other novels. Most of the characters actions and decisions were over the top and unbelievable which took away from my connection to and investment in the story. I wasn’t bought into what was happening. I was emotionless while reading this and I failed to develop sympathy for any of the characters. I had no one to root for in this revenge-filled story. Another big issue I had was the amount of slang terms that I wasn’t familiar with which took away from the flow of reading.

Thank you to the publisher for my physical review copy!

More Books by Kia Abdullah on our read shelf

Next Of Kin by Kia Abdullah

Brenda’s two cents

After a tragedy that changes the lives of two sisters, a family and a court trial try to piece together what happened in this explosive, hard-hitting, emotional legal thriller. The tragedy is devastatingly brutal to understand how it could happen, and many questions are opened up I was turning the pages as fast as possible to find the answers. The answers are rewarding and gave me a few things to consider.

Lindsay’s two cents

Leila and her sister are close. One morning Leila’s brother-in-law calls last minute to ask if she can bring her nephew to school. She rushes over to pick him up on her way to work. After picking him up, she gets a frantic call from her office and forgets he is in the backseat of her car.

This storyline is GUT WRENCHING. This centres around an extremely upsetting and intense family tragedy. My stomach was in knots for the first half of this gripping and emotional book. It’s a tough read but one I couldn’t pull myself away from. The writing is sharp and powerful. The characters are endearing and intriguing. The pace and flow of the book is strong but it did let up a little in the second half. Perhaps the intensity of the storyline was stronger at the start because of the shock of it. Regardless, this was a fantastic read from start to finish that kept me engaged and invested throughout.

Take It Back Zara Kaleel #1

Take It Back is a gripping, intense, explosive courtroom drama that explores racial and gender conflicts, family, and duty. Zara, a formal barrister now rape counselor, is divided between her family, her heart, and her job when 16-year-old Jodie accuses four boys of rape. Jodie is white and disabled with a facial deformity, and the boys are from hard working immigrant families.

I loved Zara, and she makes for a strong female character here, with conflicts and flaws of her own while she deals with her expected role as a woman that her family expects and backlash from members of the Muslim community. The tension rises as she rejects traditions and those expected subservient roles and behavior.

The story is a tough, emotionally charge one with many themes explored, and Kia Abdullah holds back no punches. It is brilliantly and skillfully written in layers on top of layers and peeled back throughout the story. It’s bold and brave and messy and gives us so much to think about and talk about.

The ending is brilliant with unexpected turns to the story, and every detail is wrapped up skillfully. Kia Abdullah has written a gem of a story here, and she is another author that is moving forward and away from those expected plots and characters. I look forward to more from her and Zara.

Truth Be Told Zara Kaleel #2

Assault counselor Zara Kaleel returns in this intense, compassionate, thought-provoking, emotionally intelligent legal thriller. The crime here is not widely used in thrillers; it defies those gender roles and stereotypes by giving a new take to those overused tropes. Kia Abdullah provides us with a lot to think about while she layers a compelling crime, creating edge-of-the-seat tension right up to that final rewarding reveal that I didn’t expect.

Kia Abdullah checks all the boxes or me for what makes a better read ~Brenda

Diverse read that addresses expected roles of gender and race but stays away from expected behaviours and stereotyped characters.
Explores some tough themes without manipulating or playing on our emotions
Delivers a story that made me think and feel with the characters
Characters that had me questioning their actions and behavior while horrifying me and breaking my heart.
A brave, bold, heartstopping, thoughtful, page-turner.

1 thought on “Thrill for the week: Those People Next Door by Kia Abdullah”

Comments are closed.