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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 sandstorm hit.

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.

320 pages

First published January 7, 2020

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About the author

Katya de Becerra

9 books185 followers
Katya de Becerra writes atmospheric young adult horror featuring determined characters, complicated families and enigmatic places. Critics called her debut WHAT THE WOODS KEEP "a thoughtful and compelling horror fantasy” (The Bulletin) and “a narrative that will keep readers enthralled” (Booklist), while her second novel OASIS earned a starred review from Booklist. Katya regularly publishes short fiction in anthologies and literary magazines. She is also co-editor of the anthology THIS FRESH HELL, which reimagines and subverts horror tropes in new and unexpected ways. As a child, Katya wanted to be an Egyptologist, but instead she earned a PhD in Cultural Anthropology and now works at a university, where she teaches and researches as well as supervises graduate students in Anthropology, Creative Writing and Education. Katya is a short version of her real name, which is very long and gets mispronounced a lot. Her third novel, WHEN GHOSTS CALL US HOME, is forthcoming in 2023.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 248 reviews
Profile Image for Toni.
515 reviews
January 6, 2020
What an exciting thriller this book proved to be!

Alif Scholl's parents are archeologists, so she has grown up around various digs and actually enjoys the task of washing and labelling archeological finds. She is thrilled to spend her summer at her father's current dig near Dubai. Alif's friends- Minh, Lori, Rowen and Luke- are joining her. There's also Tommy Ortiz, Alif's father's student and assistant. On their way to the site Alif reads a blog post about the site which claims that there is a kind of curse on it. She brushes it off as a publicity trick, but later Tommy tell her that there was indeed a strange accident in which two people were hurt. Another strange event happens when a young exhausted and severely dehydrated Frenchman wanders into the camp and whispers the name of a Messopotamian deity. Alif manages to get a few more sentences from him before he is taken away to a hospital.
Everything is going well and the friends are beginning to get the hang of the dig site routine, when a terrible sandstorm hits. When it passes and Alif comes round, she sees no sign of the camp. Her friends and Tommy have to get back to civilisation, but they have no idea what their current location is. When the situation begins to seem desperate, they reach an oasis with crystal clean water and abundant fruit. But can they trust the oasis and can they trust each other? Soon strange dreams begin...

Alif and her five friends are all flawed characters with their own distinct personality (something that becomes very important at the end of the book). The group dynamics was quite complex. Bear in mind, we only get Alif's perspective and, as the book progresses, it becomes clear that she is an unreliable narrator.

I really enjoyed Katya de Berrera's seemingly effortless writing style and the way she kept my attention throughout the book. I did wonder quite often whether the events were just a hallucination brought by the gruelling journey through the desert under the unforgiving sun or whether the (post)-oasis events are manifestations of PTSD and then the author surpassed all my expectations by giving us a mind-bending explanation.

I had a bit of trouble trying to categorize this book in terms of its genre: a thriller? a horror? fantasy? science fiction? Although set in an entirely different context this book made me think about two of my favourite reads from long time ago -Solaris by Stanslaw Lem and The Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Nathan Strugatsky (both books belong to the classic science-fiction genre).

Oasis is a gripping genre-bending story that will be appreciated by those who like a good adventure book set in a fascinating location.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Imprint Macmillan for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.
Profile Image for Mackey.
1,043 reviews362 followers
January 11, 2020
Let me begin by stating the obvious: Everyone loved this one more than I did. I recognize this. I went into this knowing that it was a YA novel which I have been reading lately and adoring. The premise was based on it being an "archeological horror" which I LOVE. What I got instead was angst ridden older teens not qualified to be in the desert of Dubai who find themselves on the set of Lost, the old television show. Okay, they weren't really on that set but the story line read as though they could have been.

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality..

Oh sorry, I had a Queen moment.

After the initial set up, the "here we are in the desert lost" the rest of the book is a back and forth between the six of them wondering what is real, what is a dream, is it heaven, hell, somewhere in between. Sound familiar? If you're over 30 years of age then it should because it is the plot for LOST! Perhaps the targeted audience is too young to remember. So, if you've never seen that television show, enjoy. Really. It's just me.
Profile Image for Candace Robinson.
Author 47 books982 followers
July 18, 2019
After reading What the Woods Keep by the author, I knew I had to get my hands on Oasis. The summary along with the cover had me absolutely intrigued. And did somebody say desert? My, my, yes they did!

Alif was the perfect protagonist because she was imperfect and you loved her, and you wanted to ask her what she was doing at times, and you were right there along with her wanting to know what was going on in this desert! And Tommy! Swoon! I loved him! Inside the oasis, Alif and her five friends encounter things where it makes them hard to trust each other, where it breaks them apart, where it creates new bonds, and it utterly had my pulse accelerating.

Now, let's get down to this desert business! It was magically eerie and creepy with a side of amazingly weird. There is mystery, and worry, and at times I wondered, is this even real? I could definitely see this on and episode of the Twilight Zone—the old ones that were awesome! 

And seriously, this needs to be made into a movie! ASAP! The writing was addicting and the story an intense page turner! I can't wait to see what book the author comes up with next! Oh, and genre-bending books are the best!
Profile Image for Krystal.
1,361 reviews352 followers
January 7, 2020

I have no idea what just happened but that was a freaking WILD RIDE.

I mean ...


So you've got this bunch of kids who are off to the desert for some archaeology fun but then there's a sandstorm, they get stuck wandering the desert and suddenly happen upon an oasis that should most definitely not be there. Freakiness ensues.

Let's start with the kids.

Alif - an interesting narrator. She's pretty honest, even if things get a little messy in that head of hers. I liked her, and that she was kind of a peacekeeper without being a total doormat.

Tommy - Yeahhhh alright it didn't take me long to warm up to him. Strong silent type here. Totally dreamy.

Minh - I feel like she had the most balls of the group, to be honest. No time for your BS. She is good people.

Lori - Look she was kinda annoying but I think she was supposed to be? Classic giggler who cares more about boys and looking good for boys than anything else. But she was plenty distracted by Rowen so I didn't really have to put up with her too much.

Rowen - Neutral feels. He seemed okay to me but, again, was too distracted wooing Lori to make much of a ruckus.

Luke - Oh how I loathed Luke. Luke is the kinda guy who thinks he deserves whatever he wants, just because he wants it really bad. WRONG. Take your ego and your entitlement and your ASSHOLERY out into the desert and keep walking until you crumble into the nothingness you really are.

In short: not my fave.

It takes a minute or two to find our way into the Oasis but once we do, buckle up for a strange, strange ride. Something alien appears to be messing with these kids and you never know what it's gonna do next.

But is it really alien? Is it heatstroke? Is it all a dream? What the heck is really going on here??!

This kept me on edge the entire time, trying to figure out who was messing with whom, and who was the sinister mastermind if there was one. There's so much strangeness that every time you think you've got something figured out, it changes again.

What a nail-biter.

Definitely a unique read with some crazy twists and turns that would make anyone carsick. The character dynamics are fascinating to witness - particularly as they unravel - and the whole thing is shrouded in mystery. Honestly found it hard to put down.

Highly recommend this one if you're keen for something unusual brimming with suspense that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

With thanks to Macmillan for my uncorrected proof ARC
Profile Image for Katya de Becerra.
Author 9 books185 followers
August 22, 2019
Welcome to the oasis, where sand is life and nothing is as it seems.

(CWs are listed in the end of this post and some are marked as spoilers. Please let me know in comments if I missed something)

Oasis is my second novel. (If you haven't read my debut, What the Woods Keep, yet, check it out, if you wish!)

I wrote Oasis exclusively on the days of heavy rain in my hometown of Melbourne, while alternating between listening to Ladytron's MIRAGE and London Grammar's NIGHTCALL on repeat.

Oasis is my love letter to archaeology, deserts, and genre-bending adventure horror. I hope you love it!


And remember: you can take the girl out of the oasis but you can't take oasis out of the girl.


Content warnings (general): mention/descriptions of blood and injury, turbulence, mentions of bullying, mentions of violent behavior, smoking, swearing, physical & verbal fighting, mentions of divorce, mentions of racism and racist micro-aggressions, experience of injury/strain, dehydration, drinking alcohol

Content warnings (spoilery ones):
Profile Image for Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer.
1,512 reviews5 followers
January 2, 2020
Archaeology and Hallucinations in an Egyptian Oasis
My mom loves everything to do with archaeology and so I’ve always had a soft spot for stories about archaeologists. Oasis sounds like a fun, supernatural romp for sand diggers and occult fans. Plus we get to travel from Australia to Egypt!

Did Oasis haunt this Fangirl with its horrific dilemma?
I had high hopes for Oasis. First, I assumed it would be a thriller type of the supernatural variety. This was a poor assumption. Then, I assumed there would be this great group of friends that would make me anxious and heart sick as they ripped each other apart. Yeah, not so much. And finally I assumed it would be a stand-alone where, at least, I’d get answers to all the supernatural hijinks in the end. Nope, totally open-ended.

The friendship wasn’t there, nor was it compelling.
At the core of Oasis is a group of friends who’ve been close all through high school. Off for their break between graduation and college this is their last time to be all together. There should be natural rapport between the different friends and their closeness and support of one another should shine through.

-The first problem was the “friendship” was all narrated to us through Alif, the protagonist.
-We didn’t even have face time with a couple of the friends until 26%! This is way too late.
-By this time the group dynamics still felt superficial. They had shallow connections but not enough scenes together for me to care.
-One friend came on so aggressively that he felt very much like a stalker. And without any background or foreshadowing why it felt contrived.
-There was very little meaningful dialogue between the friends. Not to show rapport, illustrate bonds or reveal tensions. It barely moved plot along.

While not thrilling, it did deliver on supernatural mental illness.
Setup with thrillers is crucial. Oasis took way too long to introduce everyone let alone develop tension between the friends. However, once the “storm of plot” hit, just after a third of the way through, the supernatural elements made Alif’s experience way creepier than I expected. I will admit that the trek through the desert was something I might not have survived. And I understood the friends secretive and paranoid reactions. Once events in the ruins took their toll on the group everyone got seriously mentally ill. It wasn’t exactly the wild and thrilling ride I as expecting but it was creepy how crazy everyone acted.

Oasis does deliver an experience, but the narrative is boring.
I did like the idea of a group of college bound volunteers getting caught up with supernatural events at an archaeological dig. That it messed with their heads and thus their friendships too. But it was really odd how even when exciting events were happening I still felt bored and restless. There was no tension, everything was written so inside Alif’s head without much interaction with the other friends. When something did happen to a couple of the others their fate didn’t really effect me. They didn’t even seem good friends so when the backstabbing happened I wasn’t surprised and it all felt meh.

The worst thing is Oasis is a first book and not a stand-alone. So we get this open ended ending. No answers. The mythology that was mentioned is so vague and obscure you were left wondering if that’s it. This is the type of book you want complete in one go. Otherwise the odd experience just leaves you unsatisfied rather that tingly and thrilled. I didn’t even feel like this end was a cliffhanger, it felt more like a cop out.

Oasis is a supernatural crazy fest in the deserts of Egypt. When our Aussies play around with powers they shouldn’t it fractures their high school friendship. As long as you don’t need answers you may be thrilled by this creepy read.
Profile Image for Rachael.
Author 8 books423 followers
July 8, 2019
In the tradition of The Twilight Zone or Tales Of the Unexpected, De Becerra skillfully presents the reader with the known world with its laws of nature, time and space then carefully bends reality, drawing you inexorably deeper into a narrative both terrifying and irresistible. Tense, electric storytelling that makes you wonder what you would be willing to sacrifice to have your deepest longings fulfilled.

Alif and her friends join an archeological dig in the desert outside Dubai. Rumors are rife that the dig is cursed; things keep going wrong. When a catastrophic sandstorm obliterates the campsite, Alif and her five friends must survive the unforgiving heat and hostile barrenness of the desert. Hope and wonder soar when a glittering oasis appears on the horizon. Against their better judgment they follow what they fear will prove to be a mirage to a lush haven. Dense palm trees, soft grass, clear water, luscious, impossible fruit - it all seems too good to be true. A powerful, invisible will throbbing at the heart of the Oasis whispers to each survivor about their deepest longings and fears. Soon, the friends grow suspicious of one another in their pursuit of the Oasis’ favors.

When a search party rescues them, they return to a world that seems pale and dim by comparison to the vivid intensity of the Oasis. A stolen artifact from their ordeal fractures the group even further when the power of the Oasis follows them home.

The outcome of the story left me reeling in the best possible way. An audacious story, unsettling and masterfully told.
Profile Image for The Nerd Daily.
720 reviews344 followers
September 19, 2019
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Annie McCann

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 sandstorm hit.

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 . . .

I was very pleased to be one of the very first readers of this book. Whilst the book is an ARC and still subject to edits, I can safely say that I thoroughly enjoyed the story and if any changes are made to the story, it can only be for the better.

It was very easy to read and fall into the book from the first chapter. The suspense was evenly paced and kept me glued to the end. I was impressed with the firm foundation of the protagonist’s (Alif) life that was set in the beginning of the story as we were able to identify her family situation, academic goals and her friendship group. In the beginning, it starts off with a contemporary YA feel until Alif and her friends embark on an adventure to pursue Alif’s love of archaeology and site digs. Yet, only to find upon landing that they got more than they bargained for.

The story develops quite well and the suspense kept me turning the page and with the need to know what happens next, I felt I was able to connect with the characters easily and I even started to choose favourites from early on. Katya did well in capturing teen friendships and their own lives whilst weaving a supernatural thriller together. The story is quite smart with accurate scientific referencing and an accurate depiction of desert land in the UAE interwoven with a typical yet fun loving and often strained YA dynamic. I particularly enjoyed Alif’s character (the protagonist) as I believe she had the right idea as a teen with a good head on her shoulders. That being said, she is a typical teenager too with her constant confusion and internal struggles with choices, it did feel frustrating some times but then I remembered, we have all been there once. The conclusion was quite clever also with a mystery hidden in plain sight that kept me guessing to the end and even in the end, I had many questions – what’s real? What’s not real? It was really well done.

Due for release in early 2020, I am sure this book will be well received among the YA readership. If you’re someone who enjoys fantasy reads set in contemporary times with accurate referencing to science and technology with great suspense and mind boggling mystery, then this is the one for you!

I want to give my special thanks to the author, Katya de Becerra, for sending me a copy of the ARC personally for my insight into her story and for trusting me to be one of the first to read it. It was an honour and I am really looking forward to seeing the finished product on the shelves on release day!
Profile Image for Kate (beautifulbookland).
372 reviews117 followers
July 18, 2019
After reading and loving What the Woods Keep by Katya last year, I had high expectations going into Oasis. It’s always nerve-wracking going into an author’s second book after loving their debut so much, but I had no need to worry in this case – Katya totally nailed it, and exceeded all of my expectations.

Oasis follows Alif, who along with some close friends (and a very cute research assistant) are working on her father’s archaeological dig over their summer break. When a sand storm wreaks havoc on their camp, the group are forced to fend for themselves out in the unforgiving desert – until they come across the oasis, which provides them with much-needed food, water and shelter.

I absolutely loved the glittering and lush imagery that Katya provided throughout the whole book, but especially those relating to the oasis – they were just absolutely stunning. And, really, these beautiful descriptions just made it even more unsettling when truths about the oasis were revealed. One thing that I find amazing in regards to her writing is Katya’s ability to evoke such strong feelings; even when things were all hunky-dory, there were little aspects of her writing that made me feel nervous and unsettled. I was second-guessing everything.

Another thing that I love about Katya’s stories is the fact that everything is so seamless. There are no ‘big reveals’ at the end of the book; information is weaved throughout the story, and any confirmations are dealt in such a matter-of-fact way that they make you go back and re-read the previous few pages.

Like the stunning cover, Oasis is a beautiful and vibrant story – but look under the surface and you’ll find a deeply disturbing tale that will stay with you for weeks to come.

Profile Image for Cathy.
17 reviews2 followers
August 27, 2019
Let me tell you about OASIS...

It's a strange book - and I say this in the best possible way! It's a tense survival story but also a kind of science fiction novel that really makes you ponder on the questions of humanity, identity, sentience, language and communication. Overall though, again it's a super strange, haunting, dark tale. I know it'll stay with me.

My initial thoughts upon hearing of this book: A book that's inspired by archaeology and the music of London Grammar?!!

Give. It. To. Me. Now!!!
Profile Image for Jackie.
616 reviews40 followers
July 13, 2019
I wanted to read a few chapters right before bed and next thing I knew I was at the acknowledgements section and my head was spinning.

“Oasis” finds a group of friends on an archeological dig in Dubai when a sandstorm rips them from camp and their walk through the desert leads them to an oasis filled with a variety of things that should not exist but then again a group hallucination doesn’t exist either, or does it?

The best way I can describe this plot is it has a lot of elements from The Haunting of Hill House where characters see and feel what they need to in order to do the bidding of the darker element that is in control regardless of the cost to themselves or those they care about.

My only critique is that I couldn’t picture any of these people as actual friends. We meet them where there are already small rifts between them and it only spirals from there and we never get moments where you can see actual love between them so the moments that are meant to hold more of a weight in terms of betrayal once the plot really gets going doesn’t really work or at least hit you where it needs to in order to amp up the thriller aspect of the book but I enjoyed the psychological aspect of the story too much to knock a star off.

This is a great read and one you definitely want to go slow with even though it’s tempting to read it as fast as you can to see what happens and that ending! Is it January 2020 yet?

**special thanks to the publishers and edelweiss for providing an arc in exchange for a fair and honest review!**
Profile Image for Cassie Hess.
114 reviews2 followers
August 26, 2019
Initial thoughts: I've read de Becerra's debut (What The Woods Keep) and just can't express enough how excited I am about her sophomore book! Why is Winter 2020 so far away???

My spoiler-free review!!!!

After reading and being very impressed with de Becerra's debut What The Woods Keep last year, I knew this author had something unique to offer. There's this totally awesome thing she's got going in her writing that messes with your mind in the best possible way, if that makes sense :) So already having had this experience with her previous book, I went into OASIS with high expectations and WOW. Those expectations? They were succeeded, completely blown out of the water!!!

Oasis is a completely different kind of book to de Becerra's debut and yet it still has her signature philosophical take on reality. It's another genre-bender, but if What The Woods Keep was this cool mash-up of dark urban fantasy and science fiction, Oasis is more of an adventure novel which then decidedly morphs into existential, surreal science fiction. It's so wonderfully weird and at times scary and always always always mind-provoking! I kept turning the pages. Those pages were flying till I hit the end!

Basically, a group of diverse teens led by a daughter of two archeologists head to Dubai for what they think will be a cool summer break for them. They hang at an active excavation site, learn about the craft of archaeology and also about the site's long-ago unsettling history. Then... a stranger, half-alive, severely burned, dehydrated and saying very odd things wanders into the camp seemingly from the desert. His arrival signals the transition of this "summer of our lives" story into a story of "things are not what they seem" and "WTF is happening to us?" and so on and so forth, escalating into the complete falling apart of this group of friends in the lead up to the MOST UNSETTLING DENOUEMENT WTF WTF WTF ENDING EVER.


If this book doesn't fry your brain and give you some strange superpowers like the ability to talk to meteors and see the entire world packed into a single grain of sand, then... read this book again and again, until the above happens lol.

Seriously though, please please please pick up this book when it hits the shelves on January 7, 2020. It's so damn GOOD.
Profile Image for Danielle Russell.
776 reviews2 followers
January 12, 2020
Wow. I'm confused. Up until about the 60% mark, I was sure this was going to be a 5 star book. Then it got weird. So, okay... 4 stars is still good. But then the ending happened, and I'm like "uhhh.... what???"

The book follows Alif and her friend group, who go on her fathers archaeological dig. A sandstorm blows through, and Alif, along with her 5 friends and a research assistant she has a huge crush on, lose their way and are lost in the desert. When all hope seems lost, they stumble across the Oasis. There they find food, water and shelter. But then a lot of weird stuff starts happening, including them finding a rock slab they call the tablet, which can provide the holder with their innermost desires. They're rescued, and then more weird stuff happens as the tablet causes more problems than solutions.

The storyline was unlike anything ive ever read before, and I was really enjoying it. Supernatural plots arent my cup of tea, but I do like them from time to time, especially if they're well written or semi realistic. Which, overall, Oasis was. As I said earlier, up until about the 60% mark, it was on its way top being a 5 star book.

What I didn't like:
- Resurrection trope - Readers are told Rowen died in the cave/temple, but he magically reappears and no one besides Alif remember him dying. In my opinion, the resurrection trope is terrible... when characters die, they should stay dead.
- Walking up and it didnt happen trope - at the end, the tablet is broken, and then Alif wakes up back in the Oasis, and instead of the 6 being rescued, they stay in the Oasis, canceling out the previous like 100 pages.
- Cliff hanger - I usually LOVE cliff hangers, but in this book it irritated me. Since the storyline essentially started over, I was left feeling like there wasn't a true resolution.

While this didnt wind up being the favorite book I had originally anticipated it being, it wasn't bad by any means. The author did an amazing job setting up the character and world. The writing was very descriptive and I felt like I was in the book as I was reading it. She also did a great job creating suspense, and even threw in an interesting love story (love triangle?).

Overall, Oasis was a pretty good book. Will I recommend it? Not really, but I also wouldn't discourage others from reading.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
833 reviews65 followers
January 18, 2020
There is nothing that annoys me more in a book than awful writing. I can handle some plot holes, too tidy endings, inconsistent characters but bad writing will kill me. For this one, the bad writing combined with ridiculous plot combined with annoying characters all made me hate it. I felt like it was written by a teenager trying way too hard to make their writing interesting and in the process, making much of it pointless and overdone. There were so many similes and foreshadowing and phrasing that were just weird. A few random examples:

1) “[Dad’s] four-wheel drive was encrusted with dust, and Dad’s shadow appeared longer and thicker than anyone else’s. As if he were shrouded in trouble.” Huh? Also, the dad is never the problem so why is he shrouded in trouble?

2) “Then came a series of low reverberating coos - one, two, three. Hush. One, two...The pauses between the cooing sounds felt significant somehow.” Why? Also, the pauses never are significant. Nothing happens with the birds, so why mention it?

3) “I fet a pang in my chest, a whisper of a wildflower unfurling its petals.” TRYING TOO HARD. This is such a silly description.

Ugh. This was a fail for me.
Profile Image for Brithanie Faith.
259 reviews164 followers
December 3, 2019
5/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

When Alif's plans of spending the summer working on her father's archaeological dig site with four of her close friends (and her father's very cute research assistant) are derailed by a sandstorm they find themselves lost in the desert... That is- until they find the oasis, and while the oasis seems to have everything they need- reality begins to shift and soon they can no longer tell what's real and what is a mirage.

Holy fork- this took me by surprise! After reading the synopsis I had a feeling I would enjoy this one, but I had no idea it would end up on my favorites shelf! Let it be known that I'm the type of person who loves books that mess with your head, but this was by no means difficult to follow! I thoroughly enjoyed every second of this, and I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for anything this author publishes in the future!
Profile Image for Vicky Again.
587 reviews819 followers
Want to read
August 21, 2019
i'm excited to start!!! just gonna leave these here (courtesy of Katya) because some of them are spoilers.

Content Warnings:
Profile Image for Desiree.
1,001 reviews25 followers
January 15, 2020
Well, it had to happen eventually. After a really excellent start to my 2020 reading year, this is my first two-star book of the year.

I think the thing that was the most disappointing about this is that it was from Book of the Month. Now, I haven't loved everything that I've ever chosen from BOTM, but I do think that there is usually something in the book that I can point to and say, "I get why this was chosen as a BOTM even if I didn't enjoy it." I didn't have that experience here. And while this is technically a part of the YA BOTM and not the traditional adult version of the site, I think it's a disservice to YA, which has consistently good titles, to pick a book like this. Also, it is advertised by the site as a sci-fi book, when really it's more paranormal. There aren't any actual 'sci-fi' elements to be found.

I know that sounds harsh, but this book just isn't great.

The main issue I had with this was the writing and lack of development of the world, characters, and plot. So...pretty much everything.
The writing is just very basic. It tries to be descriptive and evocative, but just ends up sounding flowery without a purpose. And at the same time, it's very vague in some instances. The following is an excerpt of a dream our protagonist is describing:
I was brought into a white-walled castle and thrown at the foot of a throne made of human bones and possessions. The throne room had no ceiling, and I could see the gunmetal clouds covering the sky, indifferent stars invisible but present.
It feels like the word 'possessions' is a filler word that the author put in as she was drafting that she just never went back to at any point during the editing process. Also, the 'indifferent stars invisible but present' (that is an exact grammatical lift from the text) line doesn't serve any purpose except to 'sound cool' or something. This is by no means the only instance of this vague or purposeless language, but it was one that stuck out while I was reading it.

There are also some very silly structural moments that felt like they were written by a kid or someone who is trying to play with structure to make a more interesting experience and it just came off as juvenile to me. On page 50, the characters are getting started with their job processing finds from the archaeological dig they are on.
I took it to my station, on my way grabbing an empty tray. I poured some water into the tray... When I checked my watch again, it was nearly lunchtime.

Full disclosure: I use ellipses when I write reviews, texts, even emails. I also don't have a huge problem with them being used (sparingly) in novels. But there was no need whatsoever for them to be used here, at the end of a paragraph. The concept of time passing could've been conveyed in any number of ways. It could've been as simple as saying:
I poured some water into the tray and began the meticulous process of cataloging the finds from the dig.
When I checked my watch again, it was nearly lunchtime.

I know that there are people who will think I'm being nitpicky, and so be it. But it bothered me.

Another moment occurs later in the book, when the protagonist is describing something. I'm being a little vague because spoilers, but the phrase itself isn't a spoiler:
And I fell and I fellandifellandifell.
Perhaps if things like this were done throughout the book I could've attributed it to a stylistic choice the author was making, much in the same way poets play with the visual form their works take on the page, but it's just this once, and it bothered me.

Also, the chapters end in awkward and sometimes jarring ways. It's confusing, because often it's in the middle of a scene, and then the next chapter continues the exact same scene, which makes it a strange time for a chapter break, in my opinion. I would understand if there was more than one POV character and we were switching from one perspective to another within the scene, but this is all from Alif's perspective, so it really made no sense.

Moving on from the actual writing/structure, let's talk about characters. The characters were not well-developed at all. We're told they're these great friends, and they must be since Alif (our protagonist) was able to talk them all into going with her to an archaeological dig to Dubai for their summer vacation. But aside from one scene with them drinking together, they are pretty much at odds before and after that moment. Even in that scene, there's tension that no one is willing to deal with. It makes the way they turn against each other not mean that much to me, because I never bought them as a strong friend group. They read more like frenemies, even from the first page.

Also, there is an attempt at diversity with these characters, but it's done very sloppily and has really no bearing on anything that happens in the book. It wouldn't have mattered if these kids were all white, all black, all brown, or some combination thereof, because after we were given very rudimentary introductions to all of the characters by Alif in the first chapters of the book, it's never really mentioned again. Their ethnic and cultural backgrounds don't seem to inform any of their beliefs or decisions, and to shove it in the beginning of the book that she and several of her friends are people of color felt like pandering, or like she was trying to check off some diversity box.

The plot itself is also very basic and surface-level. It's a shame, because this book has a really intriguing premise. It's the only reason this book isn't a one star read for me. It's a cool idea, but the execution is seriously lacking. We go from one scene to another with very little transition, except the strangely timed chapter breaks. Emotional outbursts and conversations seem to come out of nowhere just to move the plot along moments that should be emotional for the reader, if they were better written, are given no time to breathe before we move on to the next conversation. Now, if this was an action-packed novel, I could understand that. But something awful would happen, and in the next scene instead of these people talking about it or trying to deal with it, we hear about Alif and how much it's annoying her that one of her friends has a crush on her and how much she really wants to kiss the cute guy working for her father. Like...what? You just saw and all you're worried about is if the boy you like likes you back? Oooookay...
I at least thought the parts about archaeology were going to be interesting, but there wasn't really enough time spent on that, which is a shame.

The end was something I kind of expected, and while I like where it ended up in concept, again, I felt like the execution just wasn't there. I wonder what would've happened with this idea in the hands of another writer, and still think it has potential. And I'm probably going to be in the minority, so maybe it's just a me problem. I did like that it's an open ending.

A couple more WTF moments:

I don't see myself picking up anything from this author in the future.
Profile Image for Annie.
655 reviews17 followers
July 4, 2019
I am very pleased to be one of the very first readers of this book. Whilst the book is an ARC and still subject to edits, I can safely say that I thoroughly enjoyed the story. It was very easy to read and fall into the book. I enjoyed how the story set a firm foundation of the protagonist Alif, her friends and her life and how she embarks on an adventure with her friends to pursue her love of geology and site digs only to find they got more than they bargained for upon arrival.. Whilst the story does take time to get to the twist, I enjoyed how the story developed and how each character developed. The story is smart with accurate scientific referencing, accurate depiction of desert land in the UAE interwoven with a typical YA dynamic. I particularly enjoyed Alif’s character (the protagonist). She has a good head on her shoulders but she is a typical teenager too - we have all been there once. And of course you find some of her friends annoying but hey there needs to be an even balance within a group of friends. I kept turning the page because I really wanted to know not just what happened next but the answers to the mysteries that started teasing us from earlier on. I am sure this book will be well received among the YA readership.. if you’re someone who enjoys fantasy reads set in contemporary times with accurate referencing to science and technology with suspense and mystery then this is the one for you! Due for release in January 2020, I want to give my special thanks to the author for sending me a copy of the ARC personally (not in exchange for my review but for my insight into the story and for trusting me to be one of the first to read it). Looking forward to reading the finished product when it’s out!!!
December 14, 2019
I'm obsessed with this book and gonna hype it extra hard to everyone - because everyone needs to pick up a copy and read it!
Profile Image for Sheila G.
506 reviews97 followers
January 11, 2020
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.

Vulgarity: Moderate.
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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Profile Image for Lauren.
189 reviews10 followers
January 14, 2020
Really cool premise, very poorly executed. Maybe it was just a bit young for me but the characters were so selfish, so focused on their own agendas, and so overdramatic. The book begins with five friends traveling to Dubai to visit the main protagonist's father on an archeological dig site. One evening, they are caught in a sandstorm and forced out of their tent and into the desert - which is seen as some kind of "great happenstance" because a giant car smashes their tent a few minutes later. Really? How did that happen but these five teenagers are still out running around in the storm? They wake up stranded in the desert with only each other and her father's assistant (also her crush) and must find a way to get back to camp. They come to a lush and beautiful Oasis where they start to lose their minds a bit (Lord of the Flies-esque) and everything that happens from there is just...lame.

After a couple days in the Oasis, where they truly argue about who-likes-who and not how the HELL they are going to get out of there, they come across a cave / temple / ??? One of the five friends dies within the cave -blah blah blah (this is how little I cared about the characters) - they come across some magical tablet, then the rest of them leave to hopefully figure out how they are going to get home. The next day they are randomly rescued ? which brings me to one of my first glaring issues with this book. I wanted MORE time in the Oasis. Let the characters lose their minds a bit. Let them challenge one another and deceive each other. Let them be human in a terrifying situation! But, nope. They are rescued and taken to a hotel where they wait to fly back home to Australia.

While in the hotel, the main protagonist starts having dreams about this tablet and all of the magical things it can do for ones life - seemingly "make it perfect in every way". Her and another of the friends get in a fight and break the tablet and now they each have a piece to take home. [Are you with me here? What the hell is going on? I am getting bored writing this review...]. On the plane ride home, the protagonist has a vision where the tablet can make everything better for them but asks her at what cost? She decides that she just wants everyone to be happy and lucky and for none of this to have happened - except, she just started feeling this way? BAH. Anyway, she wakes up from this "vision" and finds her dead friend, on the plane with them, ALIVE. Like, it didn't even happen! What a COP OUT. Leave him in the cave de Becerra! He wasn't doing anything for the story anyway! It just felt like this was an easy way to bring him back to life rather then have the characters grieve any kind of loss. However, they didn't seem to care anyway.

When they get back to Australia, they decide they have to get the pieces of the tablet back together to see if it will save them? Badabing badaboom and they throw the tablet off a cliff and it's destroyed and whatever. I could not write anymore about this.

It ends right after that and I think ? they are back in the Oasis and maybe it was all a vision or a dream or a parallel universe? I honestly don't know what the author was trying to do. But I didn't like it. I read it. But I wish I hadn't - that's just my opinion.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Donna (BookDragonGirl).
878 reviews5 followers
July 26, 2019
Whoa! This was awesome! Even if i felt like i had sand in every nook and cranny when i finished. Lol!

Tommy, Alif and her 5 friends are all swept away in a sandstorm, and they end up out in the middle of the desert. They walk and walk, afraid they’re going to die of thirst, when they come upon the Oasis. But after enjoying the fresh water and fruit, things begin to happen, friends turn on friends, and they begin to split apart. Nobody comes to look for them and they start to wonder how they will get back to camp.

The story is creepy and weird, but in a good way, where you can’t put the book down. It has that Twilight Zone feel to it. It had me turning the pages so fast to see what was going to happen to them, and to find out the mystery of the Oasis!

Tommy was completely yummy, and he and Alif were trying their hardest to figure out what was going on and how to get home. I didn’t feel as invested in the others, but the things that would happen between everybody was interesting. But i felt mostly invested in Tommy and Alif, and what was happening between them and also to them.

This is a great book! It’s definitely a genre-bender, with aspects of sci-fi, horror, adventure and romance.
Profile Image for Brooklyn Tayla.
955 reviews64 followers
September 19, 2019
This was quite the remarkable feat! Just when I thought I knew what was happening, something else would come along and knock it out of the park! Katya De Becerra is well and truly a brilliant storyteller, you never know what's going to come along next and I was truly wondering what was real and what wasn't throughout!
Profile Image for Kal ★ Reader Voracious.
547 reviews187 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
January 4, 2020
DNF @ 5%
It's not you, it's me. 5% of a book is hardly anything to judge a book by, but I found the narrative style and voice of the book infuriating to read. And I am so sad about it because I was was really excited to read this book!

I set it aside a couple of days ago to read something else. I decided to pick it back up tonight and couldn't even make it past this page. Everything is explained in excruciating detail, the minutiae of each character and their backstory is dumped on the reader.

I learned very little of consequence other than I had no desire to force myself to read this book when it's obvious the narrative style and I don't jive. The book does have a racially diverse cast of characters though, and I am sure many people will love this one!

eARC was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review (obviously). Screenshot is taken from an uncorrected proof and is subject to change upon publication (one can hope).
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Profile Image for Anna Lovat.
18 reviews
February 15, 2023
I’m sure someone will like this book, but I certainly did not. These people are idiots.
Profile Image for Shelley.
5,126 reviews458 followers
December 30, 2019
*Source* Publisher
*Genre* Young Adult / Thrillers / Suspense
*Rating* 3.0


Oasis, by author Katya de Becerra, is the authors follow up to her debut novel What the Woods Keeps. Alif Scholl and four of her friends (Lori Bradford, Minh Quoc, Luke Stokowski, and Rowen Syme Jr) choose to spend a summer with her archaeologist father Andreas Scholl in the Dubai desert. There she is hopeful of meeting her crush Tommy Ortiz who is her father's research assistant. Unforeseen circumstances, as well as bad luck or horrible curses, have caused a rift among workers which has affected logistics.

*Full Review @ Gizmos Reviews*

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