Title: The Forbidden Wish
Author: Jessica Khoury
Pages: 340 (ARC version)
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: February 3, 2016
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Quick Synopsis: She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world… When Aladdin discovers Zahra’s jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn’t seen in hundreds of years—a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra’s very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes. But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart? As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury. (Goodreads)
My Review: This is the first book I finished for the Pokemon Indigo League #ReadThemAllThon that Aentee over at Read at Midnight is hosting for the next three weeks. You can find the rest of my TBR here, and more info about the read-a-thon here. I actually got my hands on an ARC of The Forbidden Wish thanks to the #booksfortrade hashtag on Twitter. If you’re interested in trading books you don’t want/need for books you might like more, it’s a great, inexpensive way to get new books and make bookish friends. Anyway, I’ve had my eye on this book for awhile now, so I was very pleased to receive it, and I must say, I wasn’t disappointed.
“And what do you know of love?”
“That it must be a choice.”
“Oh, my naive thief. ” I pause briefly to meet his gaze. “Love is rarely a choice.”
As the synopsis suggests, The Forbidden Wish is an Aladdin re-telling, but it’s told from the jinni’s perspective instead of Aladdin’s, and oh, the jinni is a girl. I’ve mentioned a couple times that I’m not usually a huge fan of re-tellings, but I’m a sucker for anything Aladdin-related, so I knew I needed to give this a chance. Though I’ve never read any other Aladdin re-tellings, so I have nothing to compare this to, I can say that this was an incredibly unique and refreshing reading experience. I could tell from very early on, perhaps even the first few pages, that I was going to be a fan of this book, which really isn’t something that happens super often for me. Most of all, I could tell immediately that I would love this author’s interpretation of such a popular story.
Probably the most stand-out aspect of this book is the writing. Khoury is excellent at dialogue. There are some books that are heavier on dialogue and sparser with description, but this is somewhat opposite, not that the dialogue is totally sparse, but this book is definitely more focused on the protagonist’s inner voice as she works through her past in order to determine how she should behave in her present. This means that each line of dialogue packs an extra strong punch, and though Khoury’s characters sometimes speak in a romantic or metaphoric way, they never felt unrealistic; rather, the romantic dialogue somehow only added to the mythical setting. I don’t know how this author did it, but every single line of dialogue and description enhanced the world within this story, in a subtle way that didn’t read as obvious world-building. This book definitely painted a beautiful image in my mind and took me far from reality in the best way.
Because happiness itself is a mythical construct, a dream you humans tell yourselves to get through each day. It is the moon, and you, like the sun, pursue it relentlessly, chasing it around and around, getting nowhere. And yet it never occurs to you that your quest is in vain.
The characters Khoury has created are extremely complex and unpredictable, but I found that unpredictability refreshing because I never knew exactly what they would do in any given situation. Zhara, the protagonist, lives every moment in response to her past which is laden with guilt and heartbreak. She can be frustrating at times because of this, but I also completely understood why she would live that way. I really enjoyed gradually learning more and more about what happened to Zhara and then connecting that information with her actions. Aladdin is also an interesting character, his personality a perfect mix of restless, reckless, hopeful, and funny. He’s easy to like and easy to route for, but without being too perfect. However, my favorite character in the book is neither protagonist, but the Princess Caspida. She goes through a lot in this book, but handles it all with grace. I could tell she was waiting for the proper moment to let everyone know that she is actually strong and intelligent and just as much of a contender for power as anyone else, if not more. I can’t wait to see how she develops in future books (Will this be a duology? Trilogy? Series? No idea).
While I liked both of the protagonists, I actually didn’t find myself shipping them, strangely enough. This book suffers from a little bit of insta-love, but that is honestly one of the only issues I had with the book. That, and I thought some of the action scenes dragged on a bit too long. Other than that, I really enjoyed everything. I’ve never read anything about jinn, and I loved how this portrays not only the jinn, but the animosity between jinn and humans in the present as well as throughout history. I loved the magic. I loved the plot. Overall, The Forbidden Wish is a very satisfying book and a great start to future books.
Do not say such things,” said the Queen. “We have today and yesterday, and we will seize tomorrow. We will have all the time in the world if we are clever enough to take it.
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Have you read this book? What are your thoughts on it? And does anyone know how many books this will be? Let me know below!
Until next time,