Title: The Forbidden Wish
Author: Jessica Khoury
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Series: N/A, standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
What do you imagine when you think of genies? Is it the 1,001 Nights? Is it the blue, merry, shapeshifting genie voiced by Robin Williams in the beloved Disney film? Would you believe me if I told you that this story in particular stars a female jinni named Zahra? Imprisoned in desert ruins for the past five hundred years, her existence changes forever when she meets the young Aladdin, a petty thief, and her master. When she is offered her heart's greatest desire--her true freedom--she begins to betray Aladdin. When she begins to fall for her charming human mark, she discovers that love can be found in even the darkest places of the soul, and freedom will take every single shred of power she can muster.
I'll be honest: I've been curious about Jessica Khoury since her first book, Origin, came out a few years ago. I heard about The Forbidden Wish through my local library, and didn't hesitate to order it. (Plus, I mean, look at that cover! Sparkling purple clouds, curly, ornate golden script, and a girl's face--YES!) It's been sitting in my library pile for a while now, and after an emergency appendix surgery earlier this week, I returned home, anxious for down time and to finish it.
What can I say? Aladdin is one of my favorite fairy tales of all time, from the moment I first saw the Disney film when I was still young. Retellings unnerve me somewhat, because you can never tell if they're going to do justice to the original, or just flop. But I needn't have worried with this one: The Forbidden Wish literally has everything you'd expect: a compelling, sympathetic narrator, magic, dark villains, legends, forbidden love, political intrigue, a sly and cunning thief, a princess in disguise! Khoury did the original justice, though if I'm being completely honest, I almost like it as much as the original...
In Zahra, Khoury creates a narrator that is so full of depth--so much so that I didn't realize how much I loved her until the very end of the book--ever since I've been nursing an awful book hangover. Zahra is one of the very favorite characters I've encountered within years of reading ravenously, and I'll never forget her journey! I loved the character development--Zahra is what made this book the glittering jewel it is. The bottom line: I loved everything about this novel, except for some minor quibbles: at times the narrative got a little confusing and hard to follow. But other than that, The Forbidden Wish is one of my favorite books of 2016! Next on deck: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys!