Book Review: Endangered
Reviewed by Toni Woodruff
A harrowing tale of two siblings up against impossible odds
Urkesh and his sister Hala’s world is flipped upside down. One day, they’re having a typical sibling spat. The next, their family is torn apart, never to be fully reunited again. Author Kian Sabik sheds light on the something horrific in northwest China in Endangered.
Focusing on the discrimination and genocide happening against Turkic minorities, this novel is an eye-opening look at just how low humanity can stoop.
Urkesh and Hala’s family rush into hiding when the government begins cracking down on the Uyghurs in their neighborhood and sending them to “re-education” camps. But that hiding doesn’t last for long. Their parents are soon taken away, and Urkesh and Hala begin a life on the run.
After multiple failed attempts at escaping Chinese Communist Party officers, they are ultimately separated and taken to camps that are run by equally evil men. As they try to navigate their new lives and stay alive, they’re met with violence, hatred, and abuse. With little to live for, each sibling is faced with the decision to continue on or not.
Sabik doesn’t shy away from the violent realities of Chinese concentration camps. She narrates countless scenes of the abuse that goes on there. Often describing the crimson colored blood leaving the bodies of her characters, she focuses on suffering and survival. But death is nearly always on the horizon.
Trickled into this story are some twists and turns that I could not see coming.
There is a lot of betrayal in Endangered, including one about how they ended up in the concentration camps in the first place. I was heartbroken and shocked at some of these events, which speaks to Sabik’s storytelling abilities. She weaves in personal stories into a much bigger subject, and those moments are some true highlights.
The intensity of this novel never lets up. Urkesh and Hala go through numerous emotional and traumatic ups and downs that make up the bulk of the story. There is not often a break from it, which makes sense given the reality.
Still, I expected there to be a little more character storytelling than we ended up getting. Instead, we’re shuffled through consecutive scenes of murder and abuse, failed escape after failed escape. Readers, like the characters, might have the urge to give up hope for their situation.
Sabik adequately covers this devastating topic by showing the horrors of concentration camps.The subject matter discussed is important enough to make Endangered a recommended read. This information can impact a lot of people and would be good to get in front of those who are ready to make a difference.
Genre: Literary & General Fiction / Historical Fiction
Print Length: 303 pages
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