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.
You know, when I started reading this book I had pretty high expectations. We’ve all read about secret vampires or werewolves living out in the streets, why not genies? So I applaud Goldstein for taking this creative approach to the concept of jinn, but for me it fell a bit flat. I think I might have enjoyed it more if it were advertised as a contemporary with slight magic rather than “woww GENIESSS – LOOkee here!”
Why do I write that?
Case Point #1: The amount of paragraphs our narrator spends talking about her looks goes beyond what is needed. Every other page of the first paragraph is “My skin became tan” or “Can I have bigger boobs?” or “It’s not my fault my hair is lush and my eyes are golden.” Okay, we get it. It’s cool that you look hot (to put it mildly), but can we get back to your powers?
Case Point #2: Our main character works at a beach store and spends a lot of the book juggling between the cute and dorky boy next door with the cute and dorky surfer guy. But wait! How can the surfer guy be cute and dorky too? For someone with rock-hard abs, he sure is shy. To me, a teenage girl living in the suburbs of the East coast that comes in contact with these kind of guys, this is HELLA unrealistic. Guys who have abs and look the way Nate is described are confident and AWARE of the way they affect girls. He’s a fucking lifeguard, for pete’s sake! If you’re going to use a stereotype, either stick with it or make the character so three dimensional that he ISN’T a stereotype. Which, Nate still is. Now he fits in the “popular but doesn’t flaunt it” category. Which, again, is very unrealistic. Alright and what the hell is with this love triangle?? I mean girl figure out your own life before looking at boys! Jeez no need to get jealous of a guy who’s just a “friend.”
Case Point #3: Meet the clique – your stereotypical band of girls who are one for all and all for one. The sad part is that out of six (seven? I don’t even know anymore) girls, you only touch on two of them: the bff and the bitch. How unsurprising. Everyone else is mundane and not worth giving two shits about. The Zar aka the sisterhood of the jinn that Azra is in are exclusive and are supposed to be her bffs until life.
Case Point #4: Instead of learning about her newfound magic, our main character spends the time figuring out family and friend problems. While I don’t mind that, I am quite disappointed with the fact that the selling point of the book is jinns. But – where are they? Everyone except female jinns that can grant wishes are in the jinn world (wherever the heck that is) ruled by the jinn council (whoever the heck they are) and not to be seen until whenever the heck they can. The blurb says “Forget everything you know about genies!” but now I know nothing about them because the book never filled in the knowledge.
This rant more than anything shows that this book leans a lot – a lot into the contemporary side rather than magic. (Whoops this is why I don’t read lots of contempary books lol.) In fact, the magic is secondary and drives the plot more than anything. There’s no point of granting wishes in the general world and Azra’s decisions regarding magic in the end all stem from the dumb love interest(s???).
Recommended for: you contemporary readers that want a little magic in your books to make it fun. If you’re a fantasy lover, handle with caution because whatever you’re thinking this book is, 95% chance it’s not.