Book Review: Oasis by Katya de Berecca

Oasis by Katya de Becerra

Posted December 29, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments



by Katya De Becerra

Publisher: Imprint on January 7, 2020
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Supernatural, Thriller
Target Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: ★★

Check out this book on Goodreads

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 . . .


First off, I need to give Katya de Becerra some credit – in many ways, Oasis was such an original idea. Sure, it plays off old trope of archaeological curses and a Survivor-esque vibe, but it’s also absolutely unique in the YA genre.  At least, it’s unique so far as I am aware.  If you’re looking for a change of pace from your usual YA reading, Oasis is going to temp you.

Alif’s and her four best friends are spending the summer at her father’s dig site, but rumors are the site is cursed.  The five laugh that bit off – stuff and nonsense, right?  Until there’s a massive sandstorm and the five plus Alif’s father’s research assistant, Tommy, find themselves lost in the desert and are forced to take shelter in a mysterious oasis.  That’s when the dreams start.

Oasis was, honestly, all over the place.  The scene transitions were quick and choppy, and the author didn’t really allow the reader to grow accustomed to any one situation before adding in dramatic new elements.  The characters were all very shallow, though I’m torn between feeling that was because of poor writing, or if it was intentional because of the Survivor-esque feel to the novel.

There are a lot of things like that – where I’m not sure if it’s poor  writing, or if I’m being intolerant. For example, early in the book, I was ready to call out the author for the fact that five unlicensed, untrained, unexperienced teens were allowed to “summer” at a dig site. Then I read the jacket flap and learned Katya de Becerra has a PhD in Archaeology, so she would know better than I would if that were realistic.  It still bugs me, but she is actually and literally the expert in that area.

The romance in Oasis was chopping and awkward as well.  It felt like a very forced love triangle, but none of the characters flowed well together.  Luke was moody and angry to the max, the the point of being predatory, where Tommy was so deep in his own head that I’m not sure he was invested at all?  The other couple comes in the supporting characters, and while it felt like they had more chemistry, the relationship was not given time to develop (literally, 48 hours) and the behavior of one of the characters after something (admittedly tragic) happened to the other seemed highly dramatic given the explanations.  The reaction level was fine, but it didn’t correlate to the relationship level.

While the curse-concept was fun, there was no depth to it.  There was no backstory, no reason why it was happening in a historical context.  Oasis is all about surface-level thrills and chills – if you think about anything too much, you realize that the whole situation wasn’t well-fleshed out and doesn’t make a lot of sense.  This makes is good for a quick, light read.  It also makes it really frustrated from a world-building perspective.

All in all, I wouldn’t discourage readers from giving Oasis a try.  It’s unique, it’s a fast read, and i could be even fun f you aren’t thinking about it too hard.  But it’s not a book that going to put its stamp the genre or stick long in anyone’s minds because of its shallow characters, shallow plot, shallow world building, and generally poor writing.  The first ~100pgs. are particularly painful as descriptions, backstories, and relationships are info-dumped.  It’s a short enough, quick enough book that if the description makes you curious – give it a try!  The ratings are very split on this one, either loving or hating it.  While I didn’t enjoy it, I can appreciate what Oasis was trying to do, and if you don’t think too much about it, it has the potential to be an entertaining read.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★
Plot: ★★ 1/2
Characters: ★★
Pacing: ★★★ 1/2
Personal Enjoyment: ★★

2 Star rating


Oasis WIll Be Donated

This is a book I’ll never read again.  The world building is what really killed this for me – an archaeological dig, a magical oasis with a malevolent spirit?  There was a lot of potential for some cool world building in Oasis and it didn’t happen.  There’s nothing in this book to call me back.  Choppy writing, predictable lot, abrupt ending, underdeveloped characters, unrealized potential…. nope.

I’ll be putting this one into the Little Free Library come spring, and I hope someone else finds joy in it!


Do you think you would survive if you got lost in the desert?  If so, what tips and tricks do you have up your sleeve?  I’m a long way from any deserts, but you never know, I’ll take any survival knowledge you have!

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