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Akin: An Intense Literary Epic

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Reminiscent of human sagas such as The Alchemist and the Life of Pi, AKIN unapologetically delves deeper into the human condition, masterfully weaving the triumph of the human spirit against its darkest shadows. "The book is written in such a way as to provoke pathos and curiosity." - Charles Franklin, Midwest Book Review Aydan awakens to voices he does not recognize - feari Reminiscent of human sagas such as The Alchemist and the Life of Pi, AKIN unapologetically delves deeper into the human condition, masterfully weaving the triumph of the human spirit against its darkest shadows. "The book is written in such a way as to provoke pathos and curiosity." - Charles Franklin, Midwest Book Review Aydan awakens to voices he does not recognize - fearing the worst, he prays, hoping they will leave him. But it's too late. Other villagers witness his waking nightmare, and he is quickly imprisoned, set to await vile rituals meant to rid him of demons. But the fear that has followed him all his life is soon replaced with anger, as betrayal and a new friendship urge him passionately towards freedom. He soon finds himself on a unknown path, flung into the mystical, grand desert that surrounds him. Robin Murarka's AKIN explores philosophy, existentialism, and the human condition within a unique, immersive setting. It escapes the confines of modern taboos to present an ancient, archaic world whose brutality and humanity is true to form. If you enjoy epic narratives that skillfully juxtapose internal struggles against the backdrop of huge, worldly events, you will find yourself lost within the pages of AKIN, clamoring for more long after the story is over.


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Reminiscent of human sagas such as The Alchemist and the Life of Pi, AKIN unapologetically delves deeper into the human condition, masterfully weaving the triumph of the human spirit against its darkest shadows. "The book is written in such a way as to provoke pathos and curiosity." - Charles Franklin, Midwest Book Review Aydan awakens to voices he does not recognize - feari Reminiscent of human sagas such as The Alchemist and the Life of Pi, AKIN unapologetically delves deeper into the human condition, masterfully weaving the triumph of the human spirit against its darkest shadows. "The book is written in such a way as to provoke pathos and curiosity." - Charles Franklin, Midwest Book Review Aydan awakens to voices he does not recognize - fearing the worst, he prays, hoping they will leave him. But it's too late. Other villagers witness his waking nightmare, and he is quickly imprisoned, set to await vile rituals meant to rid him of demons. But the fear that has followed him all his life is soon replaced with anger, as betrayal and a new friendship urge him passionately towards freedom. He soon finds himself on a unknown path, flung into the mystical, grand desert that surrounds him. Robin Murarka's AKIN explores philosophy, existentialism, and the human condition within a unique, immersive setting. It escapes the confines of modern taboos to present an ancient, archaic world whose brutality and humanity is true to form. If you enjoy epic narratives that skillfully juxtapose internal struggles against the backdrop of huge, worldly events, you will find yourself lost within the pages of AKIN, clamoring for more long after the story is over.

30 review for Akin: An Intense Literary Epic

  1. 4 out of 5

    Fran

    I felt rather woeful and reclusive after I finished this book. Not because it was a woeful or reclusive story - but because that's how I feel sometimes after finishing a book that I was particularly happy to be immersed in. Almost like being sad that I am no longer going to be buried in the world that I'd been reading. It can be hard to describe what sets apart an enjoyable book from a good book from a really good book. But I've come to the conclusion that a really good book is one that leaves yo I felt rather woeful and reclusive after I finished this book. Not because it was a woeful or reclusive story - but because that's how I feel sometimes after finishing a book that I was particularly happy to be immersed in. Almost like being sad that I am no longer going to be buried in the world that I'd been reading. It can be hard to describe what sets apart an enjoyable book from a good book from a really good book. But I've come to the conclusion that a really good book is one that leaves you with a lasting emotional imprint and that you would read again. For me Akin falls in this category. It's a little difficult to concisely describe what the emotional imprint it has had on me, but what is resoundingly clear is that main character in this book is not one who I will forget. His life and his story and his struggles somehow feel as though it's the life/story/struggles of a dear friend, or someone familiar even though he only lives in the pages of a book. I really like the world created in Akin. It's not a magical world, nor is it a perfect world - it's actually quite an unpleasant world where lots of terrible things happen to people. But what I found appealing is how different and vast it seems to the world we live in. Perhaps it's the absence of technology in Akin - there are no cars or ships or anything remotely technogically advanced. In our day and age, if we want to know what the other side of the world looks like, the internet takes you there. If we want to get away from our home, we drive over to a friend's place. I think we don't realize how these freedoms actually makes our world seem less vast. But in Akin everything is different - there is no ease of travel - this lack of accessibility makes the world of Akin seem much larger in scale, as though there are so many unknown places the character could discover. I could say a lot more about Akin but there is a limit to how much one can share in a review. This is one of those books that you can have a stimulating conversation about because there are so many layers to peel and think about after you're done reading. One last thing I will add is that I commend the author's writing style which hooked me from the prologue - eloquent, easy to read and I loved the third person prose.

  2. 4 out of 5

    L.A. Wild

    This is an incredible book with so many psychological layers I couldn’t stop thinking about Aydan/Akin after I put it down. In a way, I could imagine this is what our ancestors would have been like before we had science to support and unpack uncertainty. Our imagination would have been used to explain and try and fix that which could not be understood. Akin is a very raw and powerful tale. The author has done a brilliant job capturing Aydan’s journey the hardship he endures, and the people he mee This is an incredible book with so many psychological layers I couldn’t stop thinking about Aydan/Akin after I put it down. In a way, I could imagine this is what our ancestors would have been like before we had science to support and unpack uncertainty. Our imagination would have been used to explain and try and fix that which could not be understood. Akin is a very raw and powerful tale. The author has done a brilliant job capturing Aydan’s journey the hardship he endures, and the people he meets and how Akin experiences and grows. This is definitely an adult book and some of the scenes were graphic in order for the author to demonstrate the darker side of humanity. I really enjoyed this book, it’s beautifully chilling in parts which makes it so unique. In fact, I didn’t want it to end. I felt like Akin had established himself as my friend, the strong emotions he felt, I felt them too. When I did turn the last page—clicked the last page on my kindle—it was surreal moment. I came away wondering if everything we have today is just a façade, that deep down, we’re all a little like the characters in this book. Fantastic. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book I want to read again!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the book in return for an honest review. All that you read in this review is just my opinion. I read the book in a little bit less than 6 hours, spread across two days. I actually received it yesterday. Though I didn't have the time to read it in the afternoon, I thought I might read a little before bed. Almost three hundred pages later, I look up at the time and it was long past midnight. It was quite a fascinating book, one that I had to force myself to I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the book in return for an honest review. All that you read in this review is just my opinion. I read the book in a little bit less than 6 hours, spread across two days. I actually received it yesterday. Though I didn't have the time to read it in the afternoon, I thought I might read a little before bed. Almost three hundred pages later, I look up at the time and it was long past midnight. It was quite a fascinating book, one that I had to force myself to put down because I was really enjoying it. The beginning of the book, with the little tale about Samad reminded me of another book I read several years ago, one of my favourites actually. The Distant Hours by Kate Morton. It begins with a tale and that's how it draws the reader in. With Akin, it leads the reader beyond that throughout the book with several other interesting tales. I found these particularly interesting as, not only does it introduce people to folklore about these places, but it also interests me in the sense of imagining what some of these people in the tales might be like. I can imagine various travellers sharing tales like this amongst a campfire at night or some tavern on one of the stops in the midst of their journey. In the first few chapters, we're introduced to the main character, Aydan. He has a hard life, hard at work in his father's fields. Whilst he works, he thinks of the village he has grown up in. We're introduced to the people of the village and their ways. I think this was particularly interesting as we get a glimpse of their society. Being that it is a reality we've not experienced, this was a perfect way to look into what these people are like, their customs, their traditions and even what types of food they eat. In a similar fashion, this is also how the author, Robin Murarka, introduces us properly to Aydan and what the boy is like. Though ages aren't obvious (unless I missed it), I sort of imagine him to be in his late teens, ready for manhood. To me, he certainly seems that way. In somewhat of an innocent fashion, he worries about not being a man. He compares himself to his father and questions his own self. Actually, now that I think about it, I kind of like the way that the ages aren't as obvious. The same with other portions where descriptions of characters aren't definite. To me, the author has given me just enough information to know what a character is like, though not enough to control my thoughts on them. I have my own imagination of what Aydan might look like and what the village might look like, though another person might see them mentally as something completely different. I admire authors who do such a thing as they're giving readers a bit of free thinking, letting them use their own imagination to fill in blanks. I don't have any real problems with the book, aside from my personal feelings and from the way I read. The main thing I considered was that, in some portions, I didn't automatically understand the new words that were introduced to me. The author sort of presents them as if I already ought to know the word's meaning. A lot of words are explained as we read on, though there are still several that aren't particularly clear to me. My other problem, this as well just being my personal feelings on the matter, is that in some places I felt that the scenes were a little bit too graphic. I'm not exactly a prude, but I felt that some of the scenes were a little too adult for me to read (I'm 25, but I still think of myself as too young to read some things). I would give examples, but I'd like to keep this review free from spoilers. I felt that I did particularly enjoy the author's style of writing. Robin has created a plot and storyline that doesn't focus entirely on the main character, which I considered to be particularly courageous. It's not just a story about a boy growing up, it's also a story about war. I consider the story to also be about places growing up, villages or cities and the way that certain problems might effect them as well as the people that inhabit them. Continuing with Aydan, I consider that he has met some very interesting people along the way. Assuming that there may be more books along the way, I would like to read more about Aydan. Not only that, I would like to know more about some of the other people he has met. As I've said, I'd like to keep this review free of spoilers so I'll just mention these people by name. I'd like to know more of Samaye, Jarvis, and Arraki. I'd like to know what kind of paths led them through their lives and what kind of background they have all had before meeting Aydan. I'd like to know what happened in the village, Aydan's hometown and what became of some of the other people Aydan has known along his journeys. Thinking about all that, I'm just so curious and intrigued. I'm excited to read more from Robin Murarka. I think that it was well worth the read and, in future, I'll probably read it again. It is well deserving of five stars. I'm actually really impressed with Akin and am looking forward to any books from Robin Murarka in the future.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mike Robbins

    This is a book that will entrance and inspire some, and irritate the hell out of others. It’s very ambitious; author Robin Murarka wants to depict the human condition, pretty much – but in places he aims too high, then lets himself down with some poor text editing and undisciplined writing. But when this book is good, it can be very good indeed. It opens in an unnamed time and place, probably the remote past, and possibly the Middle East; it is set in the semi-arid lands that are not part of the This is a book that will entrance and inspire some, and irritate the hell out of others. It’s very ambitious; author Robin Murarka wants to depict the human condition, pretty much – but in places he aims too high, then lets himself down with some poor text editing and undisciplined writing. But when this book is good, it can be very good indeed. It opens in an unnamed time and place, probably the remote past, and possibly the Middle East; it is set in the semi-arid lands that are not part of the desert, but border it, and can marginally be used for farming and grazing. A peasant farmer and his young (teenage?) son are ploughing. We learn slowly that they belong to an evolved but very cruel culture, with no clear concept of good and evil, beset by gods and demons; and that people can be accused of possession. Those who are seen to be so possessed can be thrown into a pit and left to die, or flung into an underground jail where a cruel priest may try to exorcise them using sexual torture and rape. The son, Aydan, is accused of being possessed when he has vivid dreams. It is the start of a physical and metaphorical journey in which he will question everything, and seek a decent way to live, and peace of mind. Whether he attains either shouldn’t be stated here; reviews should not have spoilers. But the reader joins him on this journey (which is long; it is, by modern standards, quite a long book). Along the way there is murder, rape, incest, fire, war and prophecy. With a book as ambitious and fantastical as this, the challenge is surely to get the reader to suspend disbelief. It isn’t impossible. Tolkien did it. But you mustn’t get the tone wrong even once, or that credibility will crumble in the blink of an eyelid. In Akin, Murarka sometimes pushes the envelope too far with names that are either too invented, or too familiar (a seer called Jarvis; a goddess called Vespa). Also, although there are some very well-written passages, there are too many overlong and badly-constructed sentences. For example: the minuscule movements that his fingers made as a natural consequence of his inability to keep them perfectly still continued to create wispy lines before him. I’d prefer the twitching of his fingers made wispy lines before him. There are also some basic spelling and grammar errors here and there; who’s for whose, bestowed to instead of bestowed on, auger for augur. The word facilitate does not belong in a book like this. There are also some parts that could have been shorter (in particular the scenes of war). But when he writes well, Murarka really does write well. Parts of the book are extremely vivid. Early in the book, he describes a priest rising to his complex morning ritual before going to torture the “possessed” prisoners; it’s chilling and inventive, as are a number of other scenes. Aydan’s cruel physical and psychological journey makes sense, and the end (again, not to be revealed here) does sort of work. The depiction of the landscape – the marginal cropland, the stony steppe and the desert – is great. It’s the environment that Gertrude Bell described as being “between the desert and the sown.” I lived in such a region for years (in Syria), and Murarka’s spot-on, right down to the chickpea, lentil and flat bread that underpin the diet. Best of all, Murarka has an evocative vision of a society crushed by ritual and cruelly overburdened by the cost of the class that practices, and profits by, it. I found myself thinking of the theories of Joseph Tainter and others on the collapse of the complex pre-Columbian societies of the Americas, and wondered if this book would end with such a disintegration of power. If this was a crap book, its shortcomings would not matter. It would just be a crap book. But it isn’t a crap book. I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading Akin. They’ll find a lot to admire and enjoy. What Murarka needed was a text editor or beta reader with a firm but light touch, who would respect his vision but warn him when his prose was too complex, and when he was striking a false note. This would have improved what is still an intriguing and unusual novel. The author kindly supplied an e-book for review purposes.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Travis Jared

    At the risk of straining an analogy, reading Murarka's sprawling Akin is rather reminiscent of enduring an indie film prodigy's earliest works. There are moments of unexpected joy and sadness, occasional piercing insights into the human condition, and the feeling that the frame is just a small window's reveal of a vast world the creator has mapped out beyond the edges. These moments are invariably interspersed with interludes of ambiguous pseudo-artistic navel-gazing and clumsy reminders of the At the risk of straining an analogy, reading Murarka's sprawling Akin is rather reminiscent of enduring an indie film prodigy's earliest works. There are moments of unexpected joy and sadness, occasional piercing insights into the human condition, and the feeling that the frame is just a small window's reveal of a vast world the creator has mapped out beyond the edges. These moments are invariably interspersed with interludes of ambiguous pseudo-artistic navel-gazing and clumsy reminders of the maker's inexperience. Like many an arthouse feature, Akin cries for a professional editor's blade. The epic tale and its Tolkien of Arabia world-crafting is sadly buried under uneven and, at times, amateurish prose. Tortured, forced metaphors, modifiers tacked on unnecessarily or inappropriately, and a limited vocabulary of descriptors that at times devolve almost into literary tics (one paragraph early on uses some form of "casual" in three consecutive sentences). The occasional elementary grammatical error further stains the text, as the "who's" that desperately wanted to be a "whose," but no proofreader intervened. Murarka seems to be experimenting with different styles as well, to a rather haphazard result -- one chapter of the 46 is narrated by an anthropomorphic moon, several others are variations on a dream sequence. Whole chapters read like early drafts, while others show the fruits of great attention and revision, particularly chapters 28 (Endless Waterholes) and 29 (Temple City) which draw the reader through complex relationships and civic upheaval with remarkable fluidity. The inconsistency is unfortunate; surely a proper round of critical editing could have given this roughly-hewn work the polish it deserves. It is a shame, really, because there most certainly is an amazing story beneath. The author's ability to conjure a vastly unfolding ancient universe is commendable, and hints at better work yet to come...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tania

    This book took me to a far off, desperate world filled with people hardened by an even harsher landscape. Though that might not sound appealing, I found the book immensely satisfying. It follows Ayden, the boy of a peasant farmer who starts having dreams/voices in his head that make his village think he is possessed. From there he is taken prisoner and the story follows his growth into a man, having traveled through a war torn land full of tragedy. This book is deeply philosophical. It explores This book took me to a far off, desperate world filled with people hardened by an even harsher landscape. Though that might not sound appealing, I found the book immensely satisfying. It follows Ayden, the boy of a peasant farmer who starts having dreams/voices in his head that make his village think he is possessed. From there he is taken prisoner and the story follows his growth into a man, having traveled through a war torn land full of tragedy. This book is deeply philosophical. It explores Ayden's beliefs as they grow, and the revelations that spark that growth, often times being quite traumatic. The writing, I should also note, is beautiful and lush. The world is wonderfully crafted, and becomes a character in itself. This is a novel that sits with you days after you've finished. At least that was my experience. It makes you ponder the human condition in all its strange, disturbing, victorious qualities. A rare book that kept me engaged even with the philosophically deep narrative.

  7. 4 out of 5

    James

    Wonderful! Fascinating story line. Characters sucked me in. I loved that it was a long book with short chapters, made for a very convenient, satisfying read. Won via Goodreads Giveaway.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Janet K

    Having completed AKIN, I recommend you read the book prior to reading this in-depth review as it will dilute aspects of the novel that should be experienced the first time through. The novel begins with a notably full prologue, and though it seems an autonomous work of prose, it is tethered to the rest of the novel. The style is enigmatic and hints at a greater world beyond its pages. We strike the story running in the first chapter as Aydan awakens and is confronted by voices then villagers. We Having completed AKIN, I recommend you read the book prior to reading this in-depth review as it will dilute aspects of the novel that should be experienced the first time through. The novel begins with a notably full prologue, and though it seems an autonomous work of prose, it is tethered to the rest of the novel. The style is enigmatic and hints at a greater world beyond its pages. We strike the story running in the first chapter as Aydan awakens and is confronted by voices then villagers. We are introduced to the protagonist's village: a backward, primitive society that fills its gaps in scientific knowledge with mechanisms of lore. Though not plainly exhibited, there is an uncomfortable pressure that imbues this environment, exhibited through our protagonist, Aydan. We soon reminisce with Aydan about childhood events that give us an even clearer view of this community. I enjoyed the unique culture that was presented in these introductory chapters as it reminded me of times in our own history that exhibited horrifying normality. For example, a man being punished for poor hearing is reminiscent of the inquisition in Europe, and though it seems otherworldly to live complacently in such a dogmatic and frightening time, this dynamic is quite real. We seem to forget the realities of slavery, oppression, and harsh religious dogma, and naively believe that modern man is exempt from its clutches, as if modern man would be misplaced in such a world. This is of course nonsense; every hero in modern works who lives in a dogmatic world rebels against it as if they had been brought up normalized to a free and fair society. In AKIN, it dumbfounds the reader's mind to witness the protagonist cursing his own mind for a rebellion that, at its core, has no root in what modern society tells us. No, it is as if AKIN was written in a different universe because it is exempt from all modern pretense. Aydan's rebellions are welcomed by neither his environment nor himself, and their source is not based on something cosmetically modern, but an intrinsic attachment to some base sense of fairness and morality that is shared by all living creatures. To witness such raw anger in the face of uncompromising terror is nothing less than spiritual, for all pretense is quickly removed. All that remains is life and the strained connection our human minds have to it. The novel expands hugely in the second act, continuing its pointed display of a society untouched by modern times. From the simple village Aydan grew up in, we are flung into the center of a metropolis of that time, again real in its demonstration of organized corruption from kings up on high, to soldiers, to gangs and the police. A narcissism permeates downwards with hints of that same base morality struggling against an infrastructure that strives to keep it at bay. It is uncanny how accurately this mirrors modern society while being basked in a time without technology. Instead of television the people converse, sing, hold religious rituals, and those in power use the people beneath them for what vices they crave. Surprisingly, Aydan is not lost in this expansion. In fact, he remains center stage, the reader's mind continuously occupied with his thoughts and his experiences. In fact, the emergence of this grand society to the protagonist is what makes it all interesting, for as he matures it appears he fills more of his mind with that base morality, becoming increasingly disillusioned with the things he sees around him. I think most people would miss the importance of his depression half way through the novel which reflects the turning point of his internal struggle. It is hard to describe AKIN without bringing up scenes of discomfort, abuse, and violence. Yet it is all counterbalanced by Aydan whose ultimately gentle demeanor protects us from witnessing these things alone. We are with him, cringing, offended, trying to find a way out just as he is. But escape does not come from closing one's eyes, and Aydan does not escape these horrors through rose colored glasses. Ultimately, it is difficult, even at the end of the novel, to fully encapsulate what happens to him, but the growth he exhibits is neither arbitrary nor effusive; he grows, and in the best way I can illustrate, it is him finding a little more of himself. An underlying theme that is difficult to do well involves the concept of fate and how one's decisions play into it. In AKIN, it plays out so subtly that I reckon most readers won't even know it transpired. In fact, the subtlety of so many interconnected events makes this novel somewhat of a treasure after it is read because the first time through we are submerged in its thick characterization and plot. It is only afterwards that certain nagging questions remain, and upon further analysis lead to the discovery of 'Oh wow!' moments when hidden gems are uncovered. It is as if we are lead through a small tunnel, reading the engravings on the wall with a flashlight pointing us to this and that. We can feel a world outside of this tunnel, but are too immersed in the writings to dwell on it. And then we are freed from it, placed right in the middle of some large open world. But rather than be overwhelmed, we realize that the engravings in the tunnel are everywhere, expanded and multiplied. The tunnel was small and enclosed, but it showed us all we needed to know about the world outside. And by getting through all that, we see the patterns, the simplicity. And in adventuring through it with Aydan, we evolve, as he does, to understand what all the patterns disclose. These are complex descriptions of a complex novel because due to the lack of pretense, it is like trying to describe falling in love, or losing one's innocence. They are events too dramatic to be summarized in one short paragraph because the change has large scale impacts. Such is the experience of reading AKIN, because it is like having lived a different life. Having read 'THE ALCHEMIST' and enjoying some thematic aspects of it, I have a strong affection for AKIN, for it steps in where Coelho failed us. For what horrors exist cannot be solved through magical stones, nor can they through finding treasure or controlling the wind. It is only in keeping in touch with that small part of ourselves that we maintain our humanity, and this is central to the book that Murarka has written: finding your true self in a world defined by corruption.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne Steinberg

    I enjoy the darker aspects of the novel as well as the character change and development. At times the switching in the narrative from within the boy’s mind and thoughts to an objective narrator of the outside environment is confusing. I have enjoyed the spiritual journey of how he searches for his truth, and the consequences and hardships that come with it. I felt as if I had been given a unique insight into a man’s spiritual journey as he finds his oneness of his own belief system, and how we o I enjoy the darker aspects of the novel as well as the character change and development. At times the switching in the narrative from within the boy’s mind and thoughts to an objective narrator of the outside environment is confusing. I have enjoyed the spiritual journey of how he searches for his truth, and the consequences and hardships that come with it. I felt as if I had been given a unique insight into a man’s spiritual journey as he finds his oneness of his own belief system, and how we often have no real insight of where we are going and who we will become as we live with the risk and constant possibility of failure. I think the inner strength of will combined with a constant dangling of a broken will, is what creates an inner life that is rich with love and hope and insight. As a criticism, sometimes in the plot there were almost what seemed to be story saves, where the main character missed a near death incident or a lucky strike of fate happened that forced the story forward, or his beloved friend died but he was saved and it appeared almost out of context compared to the rest of the misfortune Akin has had to endure. I enjoyed the first part of the book and his kidnapping and him walking through the desert as well as the rape of the young girl which I thought was much more powerful emotionally than the second part of him entering a city. I thought his relationship with the oracle was a bit tedious and pointless with no real deep emotional attachment and given the fact he lost his father I would assume that relationship would have been more powerful, as this man stepped into an already well established scar. I did though enjoy the subtle musings about his father and mother through the story. I also found it odd that there is so much clarity about the political structure of the world, but at times during the book basic things were unclear at the beginning, that Akin was in a cave or when he reached for the rope around his friend, who he had been walking with for a few hours before he clasped, and he did not know that rope was connected to a water bladder. I also enjoyed the transient sexual relationship Akin had near the end of the book with the woman who painfully felt abandoned and unloved as he continued walking towards personal freedom. I found her perspective and anger towards him so alien to his world, but as a woman I could relate to her sorrow and helplessness as she grasped at straws so to speak to avoid the eventual death and hardship that awaited her in every land she went and her desire to create her own unfound island. I enjoyed that great contrast, where a woman’s anger was seen as shallow and almost unheard compared to the deep amount of sorrow and personal shame Akin had experienced through the rejection of his father. I think overall it is an insightful and wise read about the will to live and the hardships and ability to overcome the warfare of the mind, which is much more real at times than any physical hardship.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Phil Baird

    I purchased 'Akin' at the Sydney Book Expo where I met author Robin Murarka. He was a friendly chap and because of his demeanor I decided to buy his debut novel despite my hesitation at investing in independent works (not that I have anything against independent works, but generally the quality control seems sub-par). I knew little of the story except for its exotic cover and a brief blurb about a boy's struggles. I went in unassuming much as Mr. Murarka's attitude was quite professional and humo I purchased 'Akin' at the Sydney Book Expo where I met author Robin Murarka. He was a friendly chap and because of his demeanor I decided to buy his debut novel despite my hesitation at investing in independent works (not that I have anything against independent works, but generally the quality control seems sub-par). I knew little of the story except for its exotic cover and a brief blurb about a boy's struggles. I went in unassuming much as Mr. Murarka's attitude was quite professional and humorous (although I should have known better as one cannot 'judge a book by its cover'). This book sucked me in beyond my control. I could not put it down until I was finished with it. I found myself contemplating the story in between chapters during work, contemplating what would happen next. As others have pointed out, it is hard to specify exactly what drags you in and keeps you there. It is not a suspenseful edge-of-the-seat attraction; it is a comfortable, almost warm and inviting tale (despite there being quite emotionally difficult portions). It immerses you just as a riveting tale would as a child, but one for adults, and one that is very serious. And this is just the entertaining aspect of the novel. I believe I could contemplate the underlying messages and tones of the story for a long time because they are so submerged in the fabric of the story that one does not even know they exist - as if it is a reflection of a real place with real people and real events. I do not want to provide any spoilers, so I cannot discuss specifics. However, there is one thing that Mr. Murarka is, I would say, very uniquely good at (I don't think this is something that can be arbitrated; it is in a writer). This is that he demonstrates real world atrocities - brutal, primal, violent - with an unflinching accuracy that runs up your spine and makes your heart beat. It is not overdone; it is realistic, believable. Yet, despite this, there is such an immense gentleness to the central character, and the very fragile innocence that he reflects repeatedly. And when I say innocence, I don't mean naivety or something cheezy - it is something similar to knowing that the world is full of danger, but not quite understanding how that danger can actually affect you. Somehow simultaneously interweaving that very real, very nasty danger with the genuine effect such events have on an individual is something I have never seen done in such a good way before. Certainly one of my favorite books of all time. I created this goodreads account just to share my opinion because I liked it that much.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Akin reads like a fable and words itself in a whimsical way. It is sure to polarize readers; those emerging from its pages, confused and distraught at the purposefully energetic style will complain at the expectations it places upon them. Others will clap long and hard, emancipated from the plethora of re-hashed words unnecessarily printed on less exotic works. It is everything one could ask for in a written work of fiction. The undeniable force with which it entices us to face the reality of rea Akin reads like a fable and words itself in a whimsical way. It is sure to polarize readers; those emerging from its pages, confused and distraught at the purposefully energetic style will complain at the expectations it places upon them. Others will clap long and hard, emancipated from the plethora of re-hashed words unnecessarily printed on less exotic works. It is everything one could ask for in a written work of fiction. The undeniable force with which it entices us to face the reality of reality makes the reader endure what excruciating pitfalls Aydan does, and adventure into ascending them. It is what I read for, and provides something I rarely experience: another world that makes me forget everything I know, yet upon completion serves to alter how I see things in everyday life. Akin is not an experiment, though I do see how it may intimidate some. There is a strict code for authors that has emerged as of late: find a concept that is successful, emulate it in its entirety, alter enough of it so it is sufficiently differentiated, and sterilize the writing with so much vigor that what artistic merit may have originally existed is fully replaced by something generic. It is therefore understandable that some will feel alienated by Akin, for it breaks the rules. As any fellow artist will attest to, there are those that take the risks to create genius. And there are always those that decry such works for their lack of conformity and mask this discomfort with seemingly rational critique. Such entities have always faded into the background. I do not see Mr. Murarka fading into the background, and I applaud his courage in hammering us with this uncompromising exploration of travesty and ascension.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    First of all, Robin Murarka is a gifted story teller. The author can draw you into the story and fill you with an instant isolation of another world. However there were so many of parts of Akin that felt, to me, as though the writer was deep in thought, remembering some ancient tribal dream or story and then suddenly would decide: "I'm done". For at certain points in the story, I would feel like I was being kicked out of book by some misplaced dialog, characters that acted against their developin First of all, Robin Murarka is a gifted story teller. The author can draw you into the story and fill you with an instant isolation of another world. However there were so many of parts of Akin that felt, to me, as though the writer was deep in thought, remembering some ancient tribal dream or story and then suddenly would decide: "I'm done". For at certain points in the story, I would feel like I was being kicked out of book by some misplaced dialog, characters that acted against their developing nature, or language that was thrown in like a sight gag in a movie. So, I had this love/hate affair with the book, and I kept waiting to see, what was the point? What would Akin learn? Would there ever be any maturity, growth or realization in his life. Sadly, I did not feel that the main character went through any transformations due to his ordeals, but instead allowed his ordeals to make him an even more shallow character. The only reason that I read it to the end was my hope for the boy to come to sort of awakening that he never experienced. The story contains horrific descriptions of violence and sexual acts, which you are made you to believe are accepted or cultural norms of some ancient or faraway cultures. I had my own mental battle when coming to rate the book. My personal enjoyment, and what I believed was a lack of a message, I felt the book deserves a 3 star rating, however, for captivating story telling, that successfully draws you into Akins journey of isolation, the author deserves a 4. It's just not one that I could easily follow or get really excited about. So I am awarding 4 stars, with personal reservations. I received a copy of Akin from the author for my honest review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gotherella BioVenom

    4.5/5 :) This was a really good read. It was brutal, it was harsh but it was still somewhat gentle, explorative. Following our main character from a steady, uninteresting life to a life of horrors, friendships, and discovery was great. It has an interesting format as well, something a little different from a standard novel. I will put a trigger warning though, this book does contain discussions and acts or rape/sexual abuse, so if that's not something you can read you have warning. That being said, i 4.5/5 :) This was a really good read. It was brutal, it was harsh but it was still somewhat gentle, explorative. Following our main character from a steady, uninteresting life to a life of horrors, friendships, and discovery was great. It has an interesting format as well, something a little different from a standard novel. I will put a trigger warning though, this book does contain discussions and acts or rape/sexual abuse, so if that's not something you can read you have warning. That being said, it didn't feel out of place in this harsh society, whether for religion/superstition, rank and power or for the sake of being violent and horrid, it made sense for it to happen in this setting.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Parker

    I read this after Rone Isa and though they are written by the same author it feels like there is a distinct difference in the style. It feels like Akin is a lot more introspective while Rone Isa is more accessible, or more movement based. I enjoyed both for different reasons.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Warren Dean

    Akin is a novel which explores many diverse themes and, for this reason, will elicit different reactions from different readers. We meet the main protagonist, Aydan, as a very young man who begins a journey which turns out to be both physical and spiritual. The world he inhabits is a harsh one; a hot, arid desert where safety is transient, and comfort an unattainable dream. His journey is arduous and he encounters many grim and harrowing events along the way. Some of his experiences are pretty gr Akin is a novel which explores many diverse themes and, for this reason, will elicit different reactions from different readers. We meet the main protagonist, Aydan, as a very young man who begins a journey which turns out to be both physical and spiritual. The world he inhabits is a harsh one; a hot, arid desert where safety is transient, and comfort an unattainable dream. His journey is arduous and he encounters many grim and harrowing events along the way. Some of his experiences are pretty gruesome and, because they are described so vividly, young or sensitive readers may find parts of the novel hard to read. Others will enjoy the same passages, fascinated by the raw power of the writing style and a macabre fascination with the age-old phenomenon of man's inhumanity to man. Oddly, I found myself with a foot in both camps. I was too squeamish to read through all of the gory details, but impressed by the way the prose was able to horrify me so effectively. Despite this, I couldn't close the book and abandon Aydan to his fate. His determination to survive and to keep seeking something better for himself gave me reason to care what happened to him. No matter how dark and desolate his situation became, there always seemed to be a tiny spark of hope burning just out of sight, perhaps on the next page. I was also intrigued by the way the scope of the novel swelled dramatically as the story unfolded. In the beginning, the setting was the limited microcosm of Aydan's village, where his main concern was trying to make sense of his stunted relationship with his father. By the end, however, the backdrop was an epic sweep of history, with a massive army commanded by a powerful Eastern king sweeping across the landscape, bringing death, destruction, and radical change in its wake. I had some fun trying to place the story in its historical context. It was an interesting challenge as clues are few and far between. The book description describes the period as "a time void of technology and full of lore passed down by generations of ancient cultures." Not much help there. And as far as I could tell, the names of characters, places, events, temples, and gods are all fictitious. In fact, so skilfully is this done, that the setting could as easily be on another planet as on Earth. In the end, I imagined Aydan's journey taking place somewhere in the desert regions of the Middle East, or perhaps North Africa, and that the army which besieged the city of Sumat was that of the all-conquering Persian Empire of about 2 500 years ago. The walled city states, farming implements, buildings, weapons, and religious conventions seem consistent with that time period. However, I am no expert on ancient history, so my assumptions might be wrong. Perhaps the author is simply telling a timeless story on an eternal canvas. (I received a free copy of this story in exchange for a credible review.)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Krall

    ‘Akin’ is, at its core, a tale about the journey of a boy to a man. Aydan grows up in a small village, the son of a poor farmer. His issues with his father are a theme throughout the book. One night, Aydan is forcibly taken from his home. His experiences during and after his imprisonment help to shape him into the man he becomes at the end of the book. Alongside the story of Aydan/Akin is another story of warring states; the two stories entwine to produce the final outcome. This is a very long no ‘Akin’ is, at its core, a tale about the journey of a boy to a man. Aydan grows up in a small village, the son of a poor farmer. His issues with his father are a theme throughout the book. One night, Aydan is forcibly taken from his home. His experiences during and after his imprisonment help to shape him into the man he becomes at the end of the book. Alongside the story of Aydan/Akin is another story of warring states; the two stories entwine to produce the final outcome. This is a very long novel in which many passages take the form of internal monologue as Aydan/Akin wrestles with the frequent bouts of “angst” that afflict his mind. The culture, history, descriptions, theology, lifestyle, etc. of the peoples and locations of the story are presented in depth. Some readers will consider this the building of a rich and full world, and relish it; others will find the recitation of detail unnecessary and irrelevant, and skip it. As Aydan/Akin moves through his harsh and violent world, the reader is presented with graphic descriptions of rape, torture, death, dismemberment, flaying, cannibalising. The single occasion of consensual sex is devoid of love or tenderness. I agreed with the woman when she screamed at Aydan/Akin that he was a “dirty little boy”. Screaming, by the way, is a favoured mode of communication among the characters. There is little, if any, joy and happiness for the people in this book. I struggled with the author’s writing style, which to me was awkward and seemed to strive for a literary formality yet was rife with crude profanities and adverbs. There are also grammatical problems, such as the use of homophones (who’s rather than whose, for example), and I noticed two instances where plural and singular do not match (“one had to keep themselves [oneself] occupied”; “you is [are] a coward”). These are not major problems, but they do detract from a smooth reading experience. A star rating is meant to indicate the degree to which a reviewer likes a book; as such, I have given ‘Akin’ two stars. I do not mean to say that this is a bad book, only that I did not like it. I can see how other readers might enjoy both the story and the manner of its telling more than I did, and accordingly award more stars. (note: I was given this book in exchange for an honest, non-reciprocal review)

  17. 5 out of 5

    TheCosyDragon

    This review has been crossposted from my blog at The Cosy Dragon . Please head there for more in-depth reviews by me, which appear on a timely schedule. Aydan has dreams that are proscribed by his tribe. He is sentenced to torture for this, but is set to witnessing his 'brother' suffer instead, and so he is filled with conviction that he must escape. What follows is a long distance trip that witnesses the fall of an empire. This novel is aimed at exploring the extremities of the human condition. W This review has been crossposted from my blog at The Cosy Dragon . Please head there for more in-depth reviews by me, which appear on a timely schedule. Aydan has dreams that are proscribed by his tribe. He is sentenced to torture for this, but is set to witnessing his 'brother' suffer instead, and so he is filled with conviction that he must escape. What follows is a long distance trip that witnesses the fall of an empire. This novel is aimed at exploring the extremities of the human condition. While Ayden is living these things, the reader struggles to understand what is going on, and that is part of the appeal for some. This is totally literary fiction. I think perhaps I had forgotten exactly what that meant. It means high flaunting ideas in a not that logical order, for this novel at least. The text is not accessible in my opinion, and I had difficulty getting through it. However, this novel did awaken questions in me. Those kind of deep questions that only bother you at night after you've finished reading. And that haunt you for days afterwards. In that respect it could potentially be very valuable. Can I recommend this novel? I don't think I can, to people who like similar things to me. But if you want a piece of fiction that is going to take you WAY out of your comfort zone, then this could be a novel for you.If you've enjoyed the reviews of novels I have studied during my university career, I have no hesitation in recommending it for you. I received this novel free in time for a review before the Book Expo Australia event, but didn't get around to reviewing it until very recently. Although I am somewhat excited that this event is happening (happened), their website is really poorly laid out and appears devoid of content.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    **Received a copy as part of Shut Up & Read's Read it & Reap program in exchange for an honest review.** It took me at least 10 chapters to really get invested into this story, but as soon as I did, it was great. It is a lengthy novel so keep that in mind if you are looking for a quick read, this is not the story for you. Also, as others have stated it does have doses of graphic darkness, but I really enjoyed that since I felt it really added to the story and what Aydan is living through in his w **Received a copy as part of Shut Up & Read's Read it & Reap program in exchange for an honest review.** It took me at least 10 chapters to really get invested into this story, but as soon as I did, it was great. It is a lengthy novel so keep that in mind if you are looking for a quick read, this is not the story for you. Also, as others have stated it does have doses of graphic darkness, but I really enjoyed that since I felt it really added to the story and what Aydan is living through in his world. Living in Aydan's world is no treat, and I am thankful that we do not live in conditions such as he! I feel like I don't read many books like this, and it was definitely new to me. The journey from boy to man and trying to figure out his own thoughts about the world around him. The characterization is very good, and I loved trying to imagine what his world looked like. At times I did feel like the story dragged along, but it eventually picks up it's pace again. I would recommend this book to anyone, just to read something different! It is always good to try new things whether you end up liking them or not.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mo Jacobs

    I'm not sure... this story was fascinating, confusing and exacerbating all in one. Robin Murarka did an excellent job of weaving a story that you had to finish. It made me question what I was reading and tried to sort it all out into something familiar. This is definitely not a light reading adventure, which is a nice change of pace. The main character seemed to be as confused as the reader and kept that way til the end. Just when I thought I knew what was going on the story took a twist and led I'm not sure... this story was fascinating, confusing and exacerbating all in one. Robin Murarka did an excellent job of weaving a story that you had to finish. It made me question what I was reading and tried to sort it all out into something familiar. This is definitely not a light reading adventure, which is a nice change of pace. The main character seemed to be as confused as the reader and kept that way til the end. Just when I thought I knew what was going on the story took a twist and led me to another path. It made me question his sanity and mine for continuing to read it. Technically the inner dialogues were confusing to follow. I wasn't sure what the author was trying to achieve other than making me close the book only to pick it up again to find out what happened and why. The hints to Akin's cultures were kept vague which added to the confusion but still pushed me to finish it. I would be interested in reading something else from Murarka just to see if he can tell a complete story.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    I received an electronic copy of this book by the author for an honest review. Akin chronicles the journey of Aydan, as he struggles to survive both the harsh landscape of his world and his own thoughts. His rantings as he travels provide the reader with a snapshot of Aydan's chaotic mind. Although the writing was a little rough in places, my opinion is that the author did that deliberately to showcase Aydan's state of consciousness. This book shows the worst of humanity and the ability of the h I received an electronic copy of this book by the author for an honest review. Akin chronicles the journey of Aydan, as he struggles to survive both the harsh landscape of his world and his own thoughts. His rantings as he travels provide the reader with a snapshot of Aydan's chaotic mind. Although the writing was a little rough in places, my opinion is that the author did that deliberately to showcase Aydan's state of consciousness. This book shows the worst of humanity and the ability of the human spirit. The world that the author created was almost hidden behind Aydan's thoughts, keeping me off balance and unable to really feel engrossed in it. I appreciate where the author was trying to go, but this was not achieved in my opinion.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Brinius

    This was an interesting read, and I liked how real Aydan seemed. There were instances where I could understand what he was thinking and why. The book was a little long for me (515 pages). However within these pages the author covers so many things. A few are the loss of a pet, a lonely child and of course the feeling of faith. This is definitely not a book to read fast, but to rather read a chapter, and then ponder its meaning. I spent a lot of time reading this book, but I really enjoyed its me This was an interesting read, and I liked how real Aydan seemed. There were instances where I could understand what he was thinking and why. The book was a little long for me (515 pages). However within these pages the author covers so many things. A few are the loss of a pet, a lonely child and of course the feeling of faith. This is definitely not a book to read fast, but to rather read a chapter, and then ponder its meaning. I spent a lot of time reading this book, but I really enjoyed its meaning. I am giving this book a 4/5. I was given a copy to review, however all opinions are my own.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tiara

    "Akin" is an incredibly interesting story that captivated me from beginning to end. It features the life story of a young man who is harshly treated by his father only to encounter even harsher conditions after waking up in a prison under a sadistic prison keeper. The book follows his escape from that prison to a new life. Several twists and turn lead him into various ups and downs until he ends up where he is meant to be. "Akin" is an incredibly interesting story that captivated me from beginning to end. It features the life story of a young man who is harshly treated by his father only to encounter even harsher conditions after waking up in a prison under a sadistic prison keeper. The book follows his escape from that prison to a new life. Several twists and turn lead him into various ups and downs until he ends up where he is meant to be.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Glenn

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Farrell

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jhoana Paula dela Cruz

  26. 5 out of 5

    Karin Hendrickson

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

  28. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Goss

  29. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  30. 5 out of 5

    Harit Auga

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