Skip to main content

Code of Honor

Review

Code of Honor

Kamran Smith seems to have it all; he’s got a beautiful girlfriend, he’s on top of his football game AND his best friend just scored them free tickets to the Super Bowl. But suddenly, life takes a sharp turn for the worse. Kamran’s older brother, Darius, who had been fighting loyally in the US Army in Afghanistan, is identified as a terrorist. He’s seen on video as the bomber of the US Embassy in Turkey. A few days later, he releases a video ranting against infidels and declaring his mission to wage holy war on the United States.
 
Suddenly, Kamran’s entire family is under suspicion. It doesn’t matter that they’re US citizens in an Arizonan suburb; the boys’ mother is Iranian and was raised Muslim, and being related to Darius, with his sudden change of loyalty, means that not only is Kamran is treated like a foreigner, but a terrorist himself. 
 
Kamran is overwhelmed, confused and angry. This doesn’t make sense. Darius is the older brother he looked up to and admired; there’s no way that Darius would have turned traitor to his own country. After all, the two boys had a Code of Honor growing up, a Code mandating them to be brave and protect the innocent, which they swore to uphold no matter what. Then Kamran is taken captive by the US government, which begins interrogating him about Darius, and he must confront his own growing doubts to defend his brother’s innocence.
 
Not a single detail or event in the plot is superfluous, which keeps the reader eagerly turning pages, wondering how Kamran will leap the hurdles life throws at him. 
 
Author Alan Gratz writes in fairly straightforward language, and sometimes his way of writing comes across as heavy-handed or clichéd. Still, what CODE OF HONOR lacks in finesse or subtlety, it makes up for in good old-fashioned action. Not a single detail or event in the plot is superfluous, which keeps the reader eagerly turning pages, wondering how Kamran will leap the hurdles life throws at him. The chapters are brimming with cliff-hangers, and as I read I found myself wishing that the book will be granted a feature-length adaptation so that I could see every plot twist on the big screen. 
 
Kamran is hardly the sharpest tool in the shed but he has a good heart, and his faith in his brother, though shaky at times, is so pure that it makes the reader want to believe in Darius too despite the mounting evidence against him. CODE OF HONOR’s biggest strength is that it raises all the right questions. This book makes a reader confront notions of patriotism, loyalty and how a government must act to protect its own. I very much appreciated that it was narrated by a teenager who was raised as American as all his peers, but because of his heritage, grew up sometimes being treated differently anyway. CODE OF HONOR doesn’t beat around the bush as it discusses important topics such as Islam and terrorism, family and country, honor and disgrace.
 
All in all, the novel is an incredibly fast and enjoyable read. Gratz cuts right to the chase: he launches into the heart of the action almost immediately, and once in the thick of it he doesn’t distract from his story with extraneous romance, exposition or literary frills. This renders CODE OF HONOR, whose readers will lament Kamran’s failures and celebrate his triumphs, quite the fun ride.

Reviewed by Sydney Scott on August 26, 2015

Code of Honor
by Alan Gratz

  • Publication Date: March 27, 2018
  • Genres: Family, Young Adult 12+, Youth Fiction
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
  • ISBN-10: 1338196367
  • ISBN-13: 9781338196368