Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: April 2015 (Today actually.)
Thank you Feiwel & Friends and Netgalley for providing an ARC for me to read. Receiving an ARC has not effected this review in any way.
Synopsis: Azra has just turned sixteen, and overnight her body lengthens, her olive skin deepens, and her eyes glisten gold thanks to the brand-new silver bangle that locks around her wrist. As she always knew it would, her Jinn ancestry brings not just magical powers but the reality of a life of servitude, as her wish granting is controlled by a remote ruling class of Jinn known as the Afrit. To the humans she lives among, she’s just the girl working at the snack bar at the beach, navigating the fryer and her first crush. But behind closed doors, she’s learning how to harness her powers and fulfill the obligations of her destiny. Mentored by her mother and her Zar “sisters”, Azra discovers she may not be quite like the rest of her circle of female Jinn . . . and that her powers could endanger them all. As Azra uncovers the darker world of becoming Jinn, she realizes when genies and wishes are involved, there’s always a trick.
Comments: I’ll start with this: I really wanted and tried to like this book but I couldn’t, even though there was nothing inherently “wrong” that conflicted with my personal views, but neither did I disliked this book. I’m right in the middle where I just don’t feel overwhelmingly one way or another on this book.
There were some issues with connecting to Azra to me. Her family problems and boy problems – though there were attempts to make these plausible – just fell short for me to feel invested in them. They didn’t feel quite real enough and by that… there wasn’t an connecting scene that was strong enough for me to accept the disgruntled Azra. I didn’t see her yearn for normalcy. All she did was basically whine about how unfair being a genie was and how it sucks. She explains the sucky-ness but there is never a scene to show her wanting something so badly only to come to realize that : oh this is something I can never had and being upset about it. She’s upset from the start and only tells us life is unfair and that makes it hard to connect to her.
The boy problems. It started off well. Yes, there is a love triangle but it wasn’t love at first sight. One of the boys, it’s established that Azra has had a crush on for a long time. The other one she’s known for a really long time. My dislike with the boy relationships came in after the halfway point with the pettiness the relationships devolves into: the trying to make one another jealous. Intentionally or not. I don’t mind the jealous thing… it’s a human trait… but it seemed more like filler than actual real stuff as it seemed to not progress anything. There was no strong revelations or outcomes.
There were several things I did like a little. The relationship portrayal between Azra and the Zar girls. The circumstances and dynamics were easy to understand and easy to relate to. Some friendships are “forced” due to circumstances even though the person is one you can’t seem to tolerate. Others are created through sheer will or the connection of a similar situation. Even still, here, many of these relationship ties are implied rather than shown. And mostly Azra’s negative attitude toward the girls and their whole relationship with each other was absolutely selfish, in a way I couldn’t quite get behind or accept. It fell onto “woe me, my life sucks.”
The most interesting and fun thing about the book was the genie dynamics and the hinted at change in their ruling/self-government. It’s hinted lightly in the first half here and there and then thrown at us within a few chapters at the end to hook readers. For me, it was too late. I was just reading at this point to complete the book and not because I was invested in the story. With the implied “oh noes. they are evil and bad and bad things could happen to us,” you’d think something awesome and vicious would happen. Nope. Instead, the book focused on boy problems and other personal issues that seemed to go no where. The story picked up with high intensity and interest, but at the end… which was too late for me. The means did not justify the end, in this case for me.
Ultimately, this book wasn’t for me. Not what I expected nor written in a way that could connect to me. Upon picking up the book I did not realize it was the first in a series. Knowing that now, I understand the slow pacing… which furthered the notion that the book was definitely not made for me. My tastes and the story telling methods are too different.
(Covers are hyper-linked to their Goodreads’ page.)
Why the Recommendation: Another genie book. This is the book I constantly was thinking about when I read the romance portion of Becoming Jinn. As You Wish is complete romance fluff, but it’s the good kind. Forbidden romance and knowing the romance will not last and cannot last. Both books have protagonists who yearns to fit in.
Why the Recommendation: No genies here, but this book does deal with wishes. The wishes in this book however arrives in the form of a mysterious dress. And like genies, there are 3 wishes – a new dress arrives to grant a wish in a total of three times. This book also tries to tackle personal issues like the things Azra deals with.