on Dec. 14, 2013 :
This is my third book by Mian Moshin Zia. I knew I was in for another great read.
Young Mike Zander has been accepted into School of Scholars, a most prestigious graduate school. He and his family are elated. Not long after Mike arrives at school he is noted for his high level of intelligence as most of the students use him for favors of doing their work. However, Mike does not feel used at all as he is a true loyalist by nature deep within him and feels he is helping his fellow students. I could feel ache for Mike all throughout the book as Mian has that ability to really create three dimensional characters who you know so deep. He is admired by the girls and one even goes so far as to propose to him. Mike has great respect for this teachers and begins a bond drawn by fate to an elderly professor, Madam Shirley. He even goes on to call her his sister as she feeds this mutual bond. She councils Mike and she is his muse. Well folks, fairy-tale land just got ‘ugly’ here as the tables turn on Mike and he is wrongly accused of her murder. He serves a prison sentence only awaiting his release so he can avenge her death and find the real killer. Upon his release he sets off to find and hunt down who ruined his life.
Be ready for a surprise ending - one you’ll never see coming. That’s what I love about Mian’s novels. As an educator I really enjoyed reading about the college environment and could relate to the close bond some students have with their teachers. I believe this is an excellent read for educators.
(reviewed 3 days after purchase)
on Dec. 23, 2012 :
The Strange Loyalist follows a man named Mike who is starting his first year of grad school. He got accepted into SOS, School of Scholars. He is very happy to know that his hard work has paid off given that they only accept 125 students. But Mike's excitement quickly wears off when he realizes the school isn't all it is cracked up to be. Mike sees he is surrounded by people who are are willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead. The same thing goes for the teachers. Things take a huge turn for Mike when his favorite teacher's son dies and his relationship with the teacher grows. They become family and many don't approve including those he is close to.
I hated and loved this book. Mike was a good character to follow He was very smart and helpful. But his helpfulness worked against him since he makes “friends” with people who have no problem using him. Not only are the students of questionable characters, but the teachers are also questionable. They discriminate against the students. There seem to be some who favor the female students over the male students. I did like through all the adversity Mike went through, he had Madam Shirley. She was there for him when no one listened to him (beside Marlboro). They become like best friends despite their age differences. Madam Shirley was such a sweet woman and I loved how she was there for Mike. Well, how they were there for each other, specifically after Madam Shirley's son, Adam, commits suicide.
The plot quickly changes after Adam's death and Christmas break She starts to treat him differently and just starts acting differently toward Mike. There is a wedge between the two of them even though Mike has been there for Shirley even after she was sick. An even bigger twist occurs when tragedy also strikes Shirley and Mike ends up in jail for it. Mike takes a turn for the worst and he does whatever it takes to make things right.
I won't lie, there was a point in this book I got really pissed. Be prepared for a few complaints. When Mike goes to jail, there were just little things that were done that didn't make sense to me. Then when he was released from jail, it makes even less sense. As much as I liked the “brother-sister” relationship between Mike and Shirley, I don't understand why Mike didn't fight for his real family. He could have at least tell them what happened and while in jail, they could have done some investigation. Why not fight for your real family that raised you? Then when he leaves, he meets his friends from before going to jail. They are so happy to see him and they say they miss him. But none of them ever visited him in jail. No one did except for someone who knows he is innocent and suddenly wants to help. Why didn't they do more as well? It makes no sense. Then the biggest thing was that Mike did something very extreme to one of the teachers for doing something quite rude. I didn't like that like specifically because it could have been avoided. I love how dark the book was though and the teacher was scum, but that was uncalled for. It just seem sudden and a bit out of character since Mike still worries about being rude and impolite to people.
Overall, I did enjoy this book. The last few chapters were amazing and I didn't see that coming. While the reason why Mike gets sent to jail also made me mad (seriously, this is why talking is so important). I really loved the visit to Russia. I would have liked it if the book was set here longer because we meet Tatiana and I really liked her. This book was well written although some of the dialogue was a tad bit formal. I was screaming at the book in the middle, but it did make me happy in the end. Zia's style definitely gives a little twist to the average revenge story and I was glad to have read this. I would recommend this.
(reviewed 5 days after purchase)
on April 18, 2010 :
The Strange Loyalist:
Once again, Mian provides us with a book that is written unlike any other. Loyalty in general is a human trait that many hold dear but what if that trait was inscribed so deeply into your genetic make-up. Meet Mike aka Van Damme due to his Jean Claude like-buff body. Mike is what in this novel is referred to as a loyalist. They are somebody who nature is to be loyal in all aspects. A loyalist is such a rare person to be found and when you do you have to treat them right as in some way others can take advantage. This novel starts with Mike being accepted into the SOS (School of Scholars) a school that is so high-top that they only accept 125 students to attend, sounds like my type of school. However, once Mike starts he realises that eventually people are not what they seem and the human race is indeed a selfish thing – each man for themselves and they don’t mind who they trample or use to get ahead. This forces Mike to change the acronym of the SOS to School of Scoundrels, I thought this was quite clever and it reminded me of the movie with Luke Wilson. Mike’s first semester goes well and then a tragedy occurs and his sister is killed and Mike wakes up with blood and his framed. Though is his sister dead or is somebody trying to play with Mike’s loyalist mind? Mike is then arrested and sent to jail for seven years, once released he has one goal in mind to find out what happened. This part of the book in some way is clichéd as when innocent people in novels get out, it is their goal to find out and settle the score. However Mian’s writing style makes this novel different than the rest as Mike’s goal does not end up being entirely revengeful and the novel in the last few chapters has an excellent twist, which the reader does not expect. The Strange Loyalist is once again a beautifully written novel which explores a side of humanity like ONCE that is not normally featured in books, however each of his writings have a reality-based effect that the readers can identify with. To conclude and leave your brain thinking, a favourite quote from the book “The Strange Loyalist” is “The decision is yours. What are you: a quixotic or a loyalist?”
(reviewed 7 days after purchase)
on April 18, 2010 :
I am extremely pleased to read The Strange Loyalist. This book present facts that have not been discussed or highlighted before. Though people do tend to think and talk about them but never discussed or brought them into consideration the way Mian Zia has done it. As you go on reading, you start feeling as if you are reading not about Mike, the protagonist of the book but you are reading about yourself. Adding to the plus points of the book, the way author takes the story to Moscow for ending is highly commendable. I really enjoyed the Russian part of the book very much. The plot is very well written and at no place you feel as if you are cheated by the author. The suspense of the book keeps you guessing till the last chapter of the book. I would recommend that everyone must read it. It gives a very serious message in a very stylish way. Simple yet very effective.
(reviewed the day of purchase)