Alif had exciting summer plans: working on her father’s archeological dig site in the desert with four close friends ... and a very cute research assistant. Then the sandstorm hit.
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
The oasis saved them.
But who will save them from the oasis?
Alif had exciting summer plans: working on her father’s archaeological dig site in
the desert with four close friends . . . and a very cute research assistant. Then the
With their camp wiped away, Alif and the others find themselves lost on the sands,
seemingly doomed . . . until they find the oasis. It has everything they need: food,
water, shade—and mysterious ruins that hide a deadly secret. As reality begins to
shift around them, they question what’s real and what’s a mirage.
The answers turn Alif and her friends against one another, and they begin to wonder
if they’ve truly been saved. And while it was easy to walk into the oasis, it may be
impossible to leave . . .
Katya de Becerra’s new supernatural thriller hides a mystery in plain sight, and will
keep you guessing right up to its terrifying conclusion.
I’m so excited to be a part of the Fantastic Flying Book Club blog tour for Oasis!
I received a copy of this book from Macmillan via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! In no way does this affect my rating or review.
All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.
Content Warning: On page death, Delusions, Attempted poisoning, Drunkenness
The desert, it’ll treat you like an equal if you are prepared, if you are strong enough, but it’ll devour you whole if you display any sign of weakness.
I love tricky reads. I love reads that make you question what is reality, and what is fantasy. Oasis certainly does just that. What I also love is a story that makes the impossible, possible.
First and foremost, to save you some time wondering if you aren’t familiar with Mesopotamian mythology, (like I wasn’t before reading this), this story surrounds the Tablet of Destinies. The Tablet of Destinies a.k.a. Dup Shimati, in summation, gives the one who holds it the power to rule the universe. As you can imagine, an item containing that much power would cause some problems.
Linguistically, these words come from Mesopotamian folklore. It has something to do with control over destiny. Or was it control over the universe?
When Alif and her group of friends travel from Australia to Egypt to join her father on an archeological dig, they expect to have a fun and productive summer excursion. A few days in, a man wanders into the camp from the desert. Delirious, battered, and in desperate need of medical attention, the man targets Alif in one of his rants. Mentioning something about “Dup Shimati waiting for her,” Alif begins to wonder if the local rumors are true. Is the dig sight cursed?
Shortly after, a sand storm wreaks havoc on the site. Alif and her friends find themselves lost in the middle of the desert, with no evidence of where they are, or how they got there. Desperate to find shelter from the harsh climate, an Oasis emerges from nowhere. Cool water, fruit, and shade are inviting. Yet, something sinister lurks in the underbrush. The more the group explores the Oasis, the stranger the occurrences become. Each of them dream strange dreams, which eventually put them at odds with one another. The further their journey goes, the more confusing it becomes for the reader to decipher which reality is real.
I really enjoyed the writing style in Oasis. It was surprisingly beautiful for a thriller. Upon reaching the conclusion of the story, I was left with one question: What was it all for? Oasis did not give me a sense of finality and understanding in the end. I found the story to be thought-evoking and enthralling, yet, I couldn’t make sense of what message was trying to be delivered to the reader.
Oasis certainly makes the reader ponder: What would one do if they could control their destiny? If we had the choice to choose our destiny, to change the patterns of life around us, would it really be for the better? I believe this is the general focus of the story, which led me to three hypotheses for what the actual purpose was.
1. The main character, Alif, discusses frequently the relationship between her parents, her relationship with her parents, especially her mother, and what career path she wants to pursue. Raised in a family of archaeologists, it had been assumed by most around her that she would follow in the same footsteps. However, archaeology is not the career path that she is most interested in. Point one discusses the deepest yearnings of the heart. Between her desire for her parents to get back together (a fantasy that the tablet plays on later on in the story) and her acceptance into a certain university, Alif traverses different paths that life can lead with the aid of the tablet. Of course, she cannot see into the future to see how it will play out in the end, but the ability makes her see life in a different light.
2. Alif mentions a few times that she is atheist. Is this experience her beginning to question her beliefs, and possibly changing her thoughts on what she believes?
3. Logic vs. Instincts
Who were these people? As I observed my friends, I could barely recognize them. Or maybe they were like this all along, their true natures merely were hidden by the excesses of Western civilization, only showing through now, in this extreme situation of life and death.
Seeing how this is a thriller, this element may be slightly more obvious than the others. When people are presented with crisis situations, how they act reveals some ugly truths that they perhaps didn’t even know about themselves. Is this book to show how instincts can take over any human when survival is at stake? Or, can logic prevail?
Oasis has left me with more questions than answers. I’m typically fine with having some questions at the end of a book, depending on the book. When a book ends, and leaves me high and dry with figuring out “the moral of the story,” that’s when I have real issues with it. I can’t help but think: Why go through all of that to not have a point? Certainly, to only invoke questions doesn’t give a thorough-enough idea of where the story is leading the reader. I liked this story, it’s writing, style, and content, but I just needed more answers in the end.
Sexual content: Moderate, but nothing explicit. I would still recommend this for older young adult readers.
Violence: Moderate, including the death of a prominent character.
My Rating: ★★★1/2
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Katya de Becerra
Katya de Becerra was born in Russia, studied in California, lived in Peru, and then stayed in Australia long enough to become a local. She was going to be an Egyptologist when she grew up, but instead she earned a PhD in Anthropology and now works as a university lecturer and a researcher. Katya is a short version of her real name, which is very long and gets mispronounced a lot. What The Woods Keep was her first novel (out now), which is followed by another standalone Oasis in 2020. She has also authored and co-authored academic articles, book chapters, guest posts and opinion pieces.
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