Tag Archives: bullying

I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan – book review

Continuing with my new plan of reading some books of my own choice, in-between those I have been requested to review, I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan is my latest personal selection. I came across this title when I was looking at the shortlist for the 2020 Branford Boase Award. This is awarded annually to the author of an outstanding debut novel for children. And I discovered that this was the winner last year.

I am Thunder by Muhammad Khan

Here is the book blurb.

Fifteen-year-old Muzna Saleem is used to being invisible. So no one is more surprised than her when Arif Malik, the hottest boy in school, takes a sudden interest.

But Arif is hiding a terrible secret and, as they begin to follow a dark path, Muzna faces an impossible choice: keep quiet and betray her beliefs, or speak out and betray her heart.

Muhammad Khan’s stunning, multi-award winning YA writing gets right to the centre of what it means to be an urban teenager today.

Muhammad Khan wrote the first draft of this novel as an outlet for his feelings when 3 British schoolgirls flew out to Syria in 2015 to join the ‘Islamic State’.

To set the scene, the story starts by introducing us to 13 year old Munza and her best friend Salma. Munza is a British Muslim, daughter of strict but anti-religious Pakistani parents, who forbid her to wear make-up or speak to boys. They want her to be a doctor whilst Munza wishes to become an author. Fast forward a couple of years and the family move to South London. Without Salma around to stand up for her, Munza is determined to make friends at her new school and avoid being bullied.

Things start well with a new best friend and a boyfriend, but then what path is Munza following, as she bunks off school to attend Islamic meetings? Friends and teachers question her as they see changes. Munza is conflicted between what she hears and what she then researches online to compare it with. Meanwhile the story continues to gets darker.

I may have had to look most of them up, but I also loved how the book incorporated teen slang terms. And I was impressed by the detail paid to each scene and even minor characters.

I Am Thunder is available on Amazon. I highly recommend this amazing powerful read. Although fiction, it certainly does help to understand radicalisation, extremists and the role of Prevent / Channel.

About the Author
Born in Balham, Muhammad Khan studied engineering, but then trained as a teacher. After publication of I Am Thunder in 2018, he studied for an MA in Creative Writing at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. He is now teaching maths at a secondary school in Sutton. His second novel, Kick the Moon, was published in January 2019.

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Blogival Guest Post: Cyber Bullying and Ratting

Guest post by Edward Freeland, author of “Adapt”.

Adapt by Edward Freeland

The book Adapt has three antagonistic realms, cyber bullying/ratting, monstering from the media and psychology within the mental health system. For the mental health system, Alan Watts gives a wonderfully enlightening talk called “the value of psychotic experience” that can be accessed on Youtube, it really covers some of the dangers highlighted in the book. Monstering from the media is also covered most thoroughly in the revealing factual book Hack Attack. In this guest post I’m going to discuss the cyber bullying/ratting.

May 2014, 17 people in the UK, both male and female, and almost 100 people across Europe arrested on charges of hacking in a sweep investigation. In common between all the charges was the use of a RAT. Remote Access Trojans or Remote Administration Tools are commonly used to gain control remotely over someone’ s computer webcam, files, microphone as well as smart phone cameras and microphones. It is known as Ratting. The RAT that the arrested were using was Blackshades, that could be purchased online for £100. The most commonly used RAT, that has been allegedly used against informants in the Middle East. There are many other ways to hack of which some are impossible to trace but Blackshades is most wide spread.

RATs are widely used in a variety of ways, some less sinister than others, but across the board bullying tends to be the trend. Online at places like Hackforums.net, individuals trade and sell access to people’s computers. Ratted computers are known as slaves among the ratting community. Anyone with a smart phone is a potential target. Being careful online will help protect against being a victim but US and UK law is not in a position to help actual victims. To quote an author of a US policy paper on issues involving RATs, “The federal government should clarify the definition of interception under the Privacy Act and reconsider the damages requirement for private claims in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in light of the often non-economic nature of privacy harms. A victims suffering is often not financial but emotional”. This is an extremely good point, and in the case of Daniel (the protagonist of Adapt), it not only was emotional it effected his life in many real and physical ways like a gathering snowball effect which long term would become a financial burden too.

Recently Apple was involved in a court case whereby it objected to eleven orders issued by US district courts to use its existing capabilities to extract data from locked Iphones. This also reflects the Edward Snowden case and begs the question, “if the government and technology companies can access data on an individual, who else can? And is there a difference?” I think yes, there is a difference. As Orwellian as it may seem I don’t think the government snooping is as worrying as people may initially think, and with terrorism likely to increase according to security analysts I can see the need for data gathering. But to play devil’s advocate, should the government not put laws in place to protect victims of unlawful data stealing (videos, pictures, messages, conversations etc) by those with malicious intent.

I believe the government should do so, if they are going to gather data themselves, essentially to protect people, they should also protect people from criminals gathering data, even if no money is stolen.

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Author biography

My name is Edward Freeland, I grew up in London, but have lived in Norfolk for the past few years. I have worked many different jobs. I have always had a keen interest in history, and the underlying factors in human behavior has always fascinated me, as the same patterns occur through ancient, medieval and modern history. Science also intrigues me, so, in 2009 I completed two introductory, Open University short courses in quantum physics and astronomy. These fueled my already keen (thanks to a childhood watching the night sky with my family) desire to understand why we are here, and what the purpose of our reality is. Realizing that these answers will most surely never be answered in my lifetime, I now see every individual person’s reality as something miraculous, and that their purpose, is what they make it, and how others enrich it. I began writing in 2013, with the desire to explore some of these life themes that I find so engaging. I completed Adapt later that year, the first novel I have attempted, and have a new appreciation for the difficulty of knitting words together to create a piece of literature. My previous experience of writing, was penning songs in my teenage years. I find inspiration in different forms and areas of life, but music was certainly a mainstay during the writing process, particularly in breaks from the pen and paper.

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And you may read my review of Edward’s new book Adapt here plus your chance to win a copy.