Her narrative of the unending Syrian war from 2011 through 2016 and into 2017 offers page after page of extraordinary reporting and many flashes of exquisitely descriptive prose. But it is the characters around whom the story is built who make the book unforgettable, as Abouzeid threads together their stories of hope and loss in a country where 'the dead are not merely nameless, reduced to figures. They are not even numbers' ... Today there is, as Abouzeid’s title tells us, no turning back, and one reads the book’s final pages with no hope of a happy ending. But one also reads them with the conviction that Abouzeid’s remarkable journalistic and literary work has given us, at last, a book worthy of the enormous tragedy that is Syria.
Abouzeid relates the drama of this chaos in gripping prose ... The subtitle of No Turning Back offers life, loss … and also hope. But Abouzeid herself makes the case for optimism very faint ... Even Abouzeid, clinging tenaciously to a brighter future for Syria, admits that there isn't much hope for such an outcome. Any such hope, the reader is left to infer, will come from people like the ones living their lives in this book.
Rania Abouzeid excels in describing the scene and depicting the characters. Her words transport readers to the regime’s prison cells, to life under bombardment and to secret meetings of opposition fighters in the moonlight of summer nights in northern Syria ... In Abouzeid’s account, we mainly hear from male characters, the majority of whom embraced armed rebellion and joined extreme Islamic groups, which underplays the wider roots of the uprising. Only in a few scenes do we see the roles of female characters.