Saturday, September 11, 2010
Book Review: As You Wish
As You Wish (2009) by Jackson Pearce
Back Jacket: Ever since Viola's boyfriend broke up with her, she has spent her days silently wishing--for someone to love her again and, most important, to belong again--until her wishes inadvertently summon a genie named Jinn out of his world and into her own. He will remain until she makes three wishes. But it's only after Viola makes her first wish that she realizes she's in love with Jinn...and that if she wishes twice more, he will disappear from her life--and her world--forever. Jackson Pearce spins a magical tale about star-crossed lovers, what it means to belong...and how important it is to be careful what you wish for.
Review: While this book doesn't break from conventional YA formulas--teen girl struggling with identity and belonging, "star-crossed" lovers--the components of Pearce's novel are original. In a time when vampires and angels dominate the bookshelves, it's refreshing to find a genie among them. And when I say "genie," I do not mean a blueberry with a goatee and the voice of Robin Williams:
I mean a lithe, golden boy with thick black curls and curious, dark eyes. One draw back: his "skin sparkles even under the school's bland fluorescent lights," and if that's not reminiscent of a well-loved vegetarian vampire, I don't know what is. Another way Pearce departs from current trends (in paranormal/supernatural/fantasy at least) is that Jinn and Viola's relationship takes time. They are not mysteriously or unavoidably drawn to one another, which ultimately makes their sweet, sweet lovin' more realistic and special. It's especially exciting because the stakes are so high: if Jinn stays on Earth with Viola, he will--in the words of David Byrne--age and die like humans do. On the other hand, if he leaves, he won't be with Viola. Clearly there are lots of opportunities for tortured yearning and bold sacrifices.
While the plot and characters certainly caught my fancy, I was disappointed in the book itself. Parts of it were done well, but I often felt that more could have been done. I didn't always connect well with the characters; at times, I think this was because there was more telling than showing. (This is, admittedly, Pearce's debut novel.) I also wanted to see more build-up or tension to the relationship between Viola and Jinn. Because the book alternates view points, readers are privy to exactly what both Jinn and Viola are thinking/feeling and this, perhaps, detracted from the excitement of their attraction to one another. For example, at one point Jinn uses his magic to help Viola without being prompted by a wish on her part and not knowing his motivations could have been more exciting.
Conclusion: I give this a 3/5. Pearce has an excellent, original concept with opportunities for nail-biting romance and adventure. Despite this, I felt the execution wasn't as good as it could have been and the story fell a little flat with me. While not particularly memorable, it's great for a quick, light read and slightly younger (13-15) audiences.