…until the rain starts. And doesn’t stop. Soon sixteen-year-old Neima finds her
entire world transformed, her life and those of the people she loves in peril. Trapped on the ark with her grandfather Noah, the rest of her family, and a noisy, filthy, and hungry assortment of wild animals, will Neima find a way to survive?
With lions, tigers, and bears oh my, elephants and flamingos too, along with rivalries and betrayals, a mysterious stowaway, and perhaps even an unexpected romance, FORTY DAYS is not your grandfather’s Noah’s Ark story.
Holy Moly! So to be clear, while the center of this story is Noah and the flood, the heart of the story is Neima–the awkward, ungainly grand-daughter of Noah. She’s sixteen and an independent thinker, even if she doesn’t say what she thinks often.
Still, she’s dutiful, and follows orders even when it means loading the Ark. The Ark that she’s hated her entire life. Because that Ark has poisoned her entire village. It looms over everyone, and the villagers find her whole family tainted by Noah’s perceived madness.
Her two best friends, Debya and Jorin, stand by her side until the unthinkable happens.
Neima’s cousin Kenaan–a highly attractive young man–sure that they will be betrothed actually takes the matter into his own hands. He attempts to coerce Neima into relations, which breaks Debya’s heart and sets Jorin back. See, Jorin’s always loved Neima. And Debya wanted Kenaan for herself.
And then the flood happens. And Neima’s trapped on the Ark with Kenaan, his parents and sister, her parents, grandparents, and another uncle and aunt–and about a million stinking animals. All her friends are washed away. Gone. Destroyed in this One God’s watery wrath.
Neima can’t make sense of this new world. This world where Noah isn’t crazy and Kenaan stalks her in the shadows.
Until she finds the stowaway. One she’s willing to cast her life overboard to save.
FORTY DAYS is heady and amazing and nothing I imagined it would be. It does contain a cliffhanger ending.
Forty Nights is a continuation of the story begun in Forty Days, and it’s recommended that you read Forty Days first for the best experience. Forty Nights does, however, contain a character guide to refresh readers’ memories. The Neima’s Ark series is a historical, feminist reimagining of the story of Noah’s Ark rather than a religiously oriented one, and the novels are best suited for readers who are comfortable with new interpretations of biblical stories.
When I survived my mini-heart attack from the ending of FORTY DAYS I popped open FORTY NIGHTS.
The story picks up at the exact right moment, a moment where Neima raises her voice to be heard. When the horrors of the past are opened to the light of day. The stowaway has been found and his life is forfeit. Noah is certain only family is to survive–and Neima’s uncle vows to toss himself over, too–sure that his lineage is tainted.
It is Nezmar, Noah’s wife, who acts as the voice of reason. And still, the danger isn’t over. A freak fire and an unnecessary slaughter are blamed upon the stowaway…meanwhile the rain pounds down.
For Neima, it is a time of strife and constant vigilance to keep herself safe from Kenaan and the other predators lurking in the Ark’s holds. But time and again Neima demonstrates that strength is not always physical. Her burgeoning love for the young man whose life she had spared reminds her there are bigger things to hope for, a future to look forward to, perhaps. And love is a force in it’s own right.
With an unlikely ally and her mother’s blessing, Neima finds the strength to overcome her past, and build the future she couldn’t have dreamed.
So powerful. I just really loved this ending. But, then again I loved the beginning and the middle, too. It is a fully realized story of hope and faith and love, that while not religious, calls us to find that inner peace and resilience that most people have cast aside. I picked up on Stephanie Parent back in the summer when I downloaded PRECIOUS THINGS and, after FORTY DAYS and FORTY NIGHTS, I know I’ll be looking for more of her work soon.
The tension is extremely layered. We get internal tension among the characters, tension relating to the animals, and tension from the storming raging outside. It’s not even supernatural elements, it’s all practical points like food and animal needs. The characters are also well defined and fleshed out.”