Series: Becoming Jinn #1
Published by Feiwel & Friends on April 21st 2015
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review
Forget everything you thought you knew about genies!
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.
I so badly wanted to like this one. I did! Come on, genies? Who doesn’t like genies!? (The answer: anyone who encounters Azra.) And the concept itself is actually pretty fun: a family of Jinn who, at sixteen, come into their powers and have to serve this pretty vile Jinn council. On that note, let’s talk about the things I liked:
- Jinn culture is pretty intense! I did enjoy the Jinn background and worldbuilding, and I am pretty sure that the next book is going to offer up a lot in the way of Jinn politics and such. (At least, this book definitely paved the way for it to do so.)
- Henry was a good character, even though I had to roll my eyes at him every so often. Azra’s closest Zar (Zar= close circle of jinn, basically) “sister” person and her mom’s best Zar friend were also pretty interesting (mostly because they were as fed up with Azra’s shenanigans as I was, really).
- Toward the end of the book, I did get caught up in the story a bit more. Things started picking up, and I found myself more curious about the wish granting and the council and such. There were some developments toward the end of the book that really had me intrigued (of course, I can’t mention them, because of spoilers, but know that it did pick up for me quite a bit in the end), and I am really hoping that the next book will delve into the whole Jinn culture and wish-granting stuff more.
But there were things I did not care for so much. Things like:
- Azra. Girl, please. I understand you’re not exactly tickled at the thought of this Jinn stuff. But that’s akin to me waking up tomorrow morning, really pissed off that I have blue eyes. Even though I have known I would be a blue eyed person for my whole life. And then, being a real piece of work to every person around me, because damn it, I have blue eyes and I am pissed. That’s basically how Azra rolls. She doesn’t want to be a Jinn so…. she is snippy with everyone else? That doesn’t make any sense. And this group of Jinn who are her age, her Zar, all of whom are supposed to be her besties for life or whatever, have tried to reach out to her a lot. But what does Azra do? Bitch about them, ignore them, snark about them… you get the idea. I mean, if she stopped whining for five minutes, maybe she could, oh, I don’t know, try to improve her life?She does develop a bit more of a likable streak toward the end of the book, so you know, she may end up being decent by the end of the series? But she has a lot of work to do, and she should start with taking the selfishness down a notch.
- The rest of the Zar just confused me. Honestly, there are twelve women, all of whom are Jinn, and I am sorry, I cannot remember their names or who they’re supposed to be. In my mind, they ended up as “that one chick’s mom” or “that kind of snobby one”. Then add in romantic interests, friends, people getting wishes granted… my brain was done handling names.
- Speaking of characters and such… let’s talk about the relationships.
Problem #1: Nate. You can kindly leave the story now, Nate. You served exactly zero purpose, except to foster an eventual love triangle and infuriate me with some weird insta-relationship (not quite insta-love, but like, not normal progression either). Also, you were boring.
Problem #2: Too many cooks in the kitchen. Henry clearly likes Azra. Azra likes Nate. Then some girl comes around, and I think she also likes Nate, but when Nate and Azra get together after five seconds of interaction, she starts being interested in Henry. So… we have a ridiculous love square situation that didn’t add anything of value to the story. It kind of seemed like a bit of filler, if I am being honest.
Problem #3: I know that physical appearance does play a part in relationships, I am not being naive and ridiculous here, but the vanity was just too much at times. For instance, Henry comments that all the boys in school just looooved Azra, but were either intimidated by her beauty, or “half choosing not to talk to you because you’re so freaking pretty, they figured you must be a total bitch.” Um what!? Are those the only choices? No no no.
Bottom Line: This is a really hard book for me to rate, honestly. I thought it had a ton of potential, and the idea is fantastic. And, there is room for it to grow, and I think it is a real possibility that it could end up being a pretty good series. That said, I had too many problems with it to rate it very high, and I can’t exactly rate a book on what could happen. But while this book didn’t work for me, the idea did, and I will likely pick up the sequel and give it another chance (but really, just one more chance).