Welcome to my stop on The Forbidden Wish blog tour! Today I shall share my review of this lovely book, and give you a chance to win your very own copy (thanks to the always fabulous Penguin Teen!).The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
Published by Razorbill on February 23rd 2016
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 Arabian Nights from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.
Confession time: I probably watched Aladdin once, like when it came out. Because I am old. I umm also used to play the video game. On my Sega. (See how old?) Anyway, these things are about all I know of Aladdin’s story. And that A Whole New World song, because isn’t that just an earworm waiting to happen? (Sorry in advance, I really am.)
There’s a point to this, I promise, other than my stroll down early 90s memory lane. Basically, I don’t really remember the Disney-fied story. There was Robin Williams, the guy who played DJ’s boyfriend on Full House, and like, bread, and maybe a monkey or something? Nor do I know the actual story. I do, however, remember loving the idea of it, and the setting, so I was super excited to read this book, especially without having any real preconceived notions about the story.
And it didn’t disappoint! For reasons. And of course I am going to tell you them!
- The writing was gorgeous. This is my first Jessica Khoury book- and certainly not my last- even though I have her entire first series on my bookshelf. But the loveliness of the writing blew me away. I think it had the perfect ambience for the story- not dramatic, just… lovely. Appropriate, with some passages that really made my emotions stir and felt very powerful in just the right places. Very early in the book, Zahra and Aladdin had an exchange that really set the tone, for me.
“‘…Wishes have a way of twisting themselves, and there’s nothing more dangerous than getting your heart’s desire. The question is, are you willing to gamble? How much are you willing to lose? What are you willing to risk everything for?'”
In this moment, it’s clear how deathly serious the jinni process is- and how serious Aladdin is about using it.
- The way the story itself is told is fabulous too. It’s from Zahra’s point of view, but she’s also talking to the last human she served- and loved-, a queen named Roshana. It’s clear how strong their bond was, and even still is after the passage of many centuries. One of the biggest jinni rules is that they’re forbidden to fall in love with a human, and that means any kind of love. (Incidentally, the idea that friendship love can be just as strong as romantic love was also awesome.) The friendship she had with Roshana brought about Roshana’s downfall, and even hundreds of years later, the people blame jinni, and Zahra specifically, for it. Zahra also blames herself, because she knew the costs, but was unable to not love the queen. Her recounting the past and the present to her friend is another beautiful element of the book that makes it special.
- Aladdin is a very fun character, and he and Zahra play well off each other. Zahra is more serious, more aware of the consequences, and frankly, more jaded and overwhelmed from living for so long. Aladdin is more willing to take risks and break rules, and their personalities compliment each other perfectly, even long before there is any inkling of romantic feelings budding.
- All the characters are incredibly complex. Goodness, these characters all struggle with demons. Life isn’t easy- no matter if you’re a human or a jinn- and they are all being pulled in multiple directions by multiple people. And there are a lot of really fabulous female characters who are absolutely not afraid to kick some ass when needed, and I loved that.
- I was definitely invested in the outcome! And the plot was good- there was action, and downtime scenes, and it flowed really well. There was a lot of action toward the end- I was a little overwhelmed, but that’s probably more of a “me” thing than the book’s issue.
I only had a few minor issues, really. One was that it did start off a bit slow for me, and I wasn’t really sure what was going on. But once it picked up, I was absolutely enjoying it. The other thing was that at times, there were a lot of side characters to remember, and I had to go back and re-read a few parts, especially during the action scenes, because I couldn’t quite keep track of who was who amidst the fast moving plot.
Bottom Line: Overall, absolutely a win. I shipped the romance, I enjoyed the plot, and thought the characters were great. And when you add a vivid desert setting, it’s all even better!
**Quote taken from uncorrected proof, subject to change.
Penguin has been kind enough to provide a copy of The Forbidden Wish to one lucky U.S. winner! So, have at it, and good luck!
Do tell: What would you wish for if you stumbled upon your very own jinni lamp? Remember, wishes can have consequences… 😉