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I Dream of Jinni

If Amber Lough's The Fire Wish is any indication, the jinn YA bandwagon's going to be a welcome change of pace from the typical fare. 

I Dream of Jinni

BOOK REPORT for The Fire Wish (The Jinni Wars Book 1) by Amber Lough

Cover Story: Effective
BFF Charm: Maybe and Nay
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: She Said, She Said
Bonus Factors: Jinn, World Building, Identity Swap
Relationship Status: Fresh Meat

Cover Story: Effective

Thanks to pop culture (or, OK, Aladdin), most people are likely to connect this cover to jinn, even if the ones in this story don't actually live in lamps. And that mighty fine blurb from Tamora Freaking Pierce ain't nothin' to scoff at, either. If only the try-hard font didn't remind me of Jasmine's Jafar tiara.

Although why does evil have such better taste in styling?

The Deal:

The war between jinn and humans wages on, with Najwa and Zayele on opposing sides: Najwe, a jinni trainee soldier, and Zayele, a human promised to a prince of Baghdad for a political marriage. When the two girls cross paths, Zayele makes a desperate wish on Najwa, and they Freaky their Fridays, i.e., trade places. And now the both of 'em are trapped among enemies who'd kill them if they knew the truth, NO BIG DEAL. 

BFF Charm: Maybe and Nay

I favoured Najwa of the two, but nothing about her leaps out at me as BFFable. And having access to her jinn abilities is totally a "Be care what you wish for" sitch (more on that later). But Najwa's enormous capacity for compassion and excitement about trying human food means our friendship has potential.

Zayele isn't a horrible person, and I can sort of forgive her wishing on a jinni and inadvertently trapping Najwa to the same fate she was trying to escape. But Zayele's impulsiveness and disregard of consequences aren't isolated incidents; she did something MAJOR STUPID in the recent past.

I do believe people are capable of change -- and Zayele did grow on me over time -- but I EXTREMELY HATE why she even selfishly made this one huge, avoidable mistake at all. We can be friends, but I don't know if I could ever move on from what she did to truly be BFFs. 

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

Since this is an identity swap book, Najwa and Zayele conveniently find love interests that they otherwise never would have met. While I don't hold the arranged marriage part against Prince Kamal and Najwa-as-Zayele, they lack the heat of Zayele and Atish, Najwa's lifelong friend and fellow soldier. Still, both romances are built on deception, with Zayele's being worse since there's a pre-existing relationship. Dishonesty might be the best policy for self-preservation, but that ain't the case for getting me to swoon.

Talky Talk: She Said, She Said

The chapters alternate between Najwa and Zayele's perspectives. Najwa's voice is more subdued and Zayele's more outspoken, although their voices are not always so distinct that I could easily identify the narrator without context. Parts of the plot are a bit obvious, but not when it comes to the setting and culture of the book. Amber Lough doesn't dumb down the 'diversity', treating the story no different than a fantasy set in medieval England or an entirely fictional world.

Bonus Factor: Jinn

These jinn are human-like in appearance and sound nothing like Robin Williams. (... I would assume. I didn't read the audiobook, after all.) And the agonizing pain they suffer from ungranted or backfired wishes is a cruel little detail. 

Bonus Factor: World Building

The jinn live in the Cavern, a thoroughly imagined world within the earth, and there seems to be a lot more to the tumultuous history between humans and jinn than is privy to the reader. Basically, I would read many a Wikipedia entry on this fantastical universe.

Bonus Factor: Identity Swap

What better way for Najwa and Zayele to see the enemy in a different light than to literally walk a mile in their shoes? Dismantling misconceptions is my favourite part of this tried and true plot device. 

Casting Call:

Look, y'all. I try to fantasy cast as close as I can when it comes to age and race of characters. ("If I, a lowly blogger, can do it, SUUURELY so can Hollywood!")

But this... was not easy. I couldn't really find actresses that fit my idea of Najwa and Zayele, and the guys I cast aren't perfect, either.* Although my greatest offense is probs choosing someone from One Direction.

*They also should be flipped, based on physical descriptions. But I clearly went with hotter guy = hotter character.

Avan Jogia as Atish

Zayn Malik as Kamal 

Relationship Status: Fresh Meat

In the high school hierarchy that is YA trends, jinns are the intriguing new kids in town. I scored a date with this book, and it fascinated me with its mythology -- so much so that I tried my best to overlook how we're not the best match. I'm def. more in love with the idea of it, rather than with it itself. Even though I might not stick around for a second date, this book is a much-needed reminder to expand my social circle. 

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Random House. I received neither money nor froyo for writing this review (dammit!). The Fire Wish is available now.

Mandy Wan's photo About the Author: Residing in Edmonton, AB, Mandy unabashedly loves YA lit, frozen desserts, and terrible puns.