Two New Book Reviews
The Forbidden Wish
Author: Jessica Khoury
Page Count: 406
Keywords: Fantasy, True Love, Jinni, Aladdin, Retelling
Genre: Young Adult
Younger Readers: Language is not really an issue with this one and the romantic scenes do not wander much past intense making out.
If you are looking for a stand-alone novel to dive into rather than trying to commit to a new series, then this might just be the pick for you. It is a retelling of Aladdin with the genie, or jinni, being a female rather than the traditional man. And this is where the problems come into play.
First off, Jessica Khoury is an amazing writer. The world she created was rich and fascinating. I devoured the words from the page, immersing myself into the culture she had created. It was unique and refreshing. Her description stood out from the YA norm with their depth. Rather than the normal corniness that can come with jinni tales, this one was beautifully done. You experience everything as if you were there. Sarah J. Maas’s praise on the front cover reads “Lush, romantic, and exquisitely written- a rare, glittering jewel” and I could not agree more.
Zahra is ancient compared to Aladdin. Typically this would create a disconnect between the two characters. The Forbidden Wish does a good job of avoiding this discrepancy though. She is not an idiot by any means but her role as jinni has limited her experiences and made her fearful of the world. Watching her explore the world as her feelings grow for Aladdin and testing the limits as she has known them is a lot of fun.
Now for Aladdin. I HATE the player type character. You know which one I’m talking about? The one that is vague about his intentions towards the heroine. Sometimes he is known to be a major flirt, only wanting a pretty girl. Flitting from one relationship to the next. Never saying if he wants to be a friend or more?
This is annoying in the real world and fiction. Becomes boring rather quickly. I was terrified as I started the book that this was going to be Aladdin, especially during the scene at the Rings. He seemed like he had played at least one character in the past and was quickly drawn to the pretties girl around. I was pleasantly surprised with him though. His character experiences development, growing up from the player boy to honorable young man. Just get past his initial annoyances and you’re golden.
If you’re not a fan of love triangles I would not worry too much about this one. Yes, Aladdin does have his choice between two beautiful girls. However, it is not presented in the desperate annoying way where he cannot tell which one he loves more. Trust me on this one. And if you hate instalove, do not worry. It is the more satisfying, or realistic, friendship that grows into more.
As the story came to an end I found myself sad that it was a stand alone. I wanted so much more from Aladdin and Zahra. I absolutely recommend this one.
Freak the Mighty
Author: Rodman Philbrick
Page Count: 169
Keywords: Friendship, Growing Up, Middle School, Don’t judge a book by its cover
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Younger Readers: This is a children’s book so the content should be appropriate for most readers. There is a parental figure in jail and certain parts of the book may be too intense for very young (preschool age) children.
I read this for work and when I first skimmed the synopsis and looked at the cover I honestly was not expecting too much from this book. I thought I would be a little bored. I was happy to learn that I was horribly wrong.
Having a book surprise me is always one of the greatest joys of being a reader. There were obvious messages present throughout the novel, as with most children’s books. Two of the main points were “don’t judge a book by its cover” and then the importance of friendship. Kevin (Freak) is brainy and loveable, never letting his physical disabilities hold him back, while Max (the Mighty portion of Freak the Mighty) is much sweeter than his hulking physical presence would suggest. The way that they help one another grow throughout the novel is fun to read and shows the importance of a good friendship and how transformative love, even when its not in the romantic sense that many books push more heavily, can be.
There was also a sense of mystery that I enjoyed. Philbrick alludes to Max’s past but does not let on what has truly transpired until the very end of the book. These little hints were not too difficult to pick out and guess as an adult reader but children will definitely be left guessing a bit more. In this way there is a greater sense of suspense that will keep reader’s engaged.
This book is really great and at only 169 pages it will not take you long to read. Pick this one up. You won’t regret diving into this unexpected treasure.