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The Art of Wishing Hardcover – March 21, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Senior Margo McKenna knows something is up when she loses the lead in her school play to an unknown and talentless sophomore named Vicky. To escape during one particularly frustrating rehearsal, she goes to the girls' room, where she finds a ring. When she picks it up, the mysterious new kid, Oliver, instantly appears. Margo discovers that he is really a genie and his master is Vicky. By finding the ring, Margo becomes his new master. She uses her first wish to become a talented songwriter. Soon after, she discovers that another genie, Xavier, is hunting Oliver and plans to kill him. As Margo rushes to find a way to save Oliver's life, the pair begin to fall in love. Although the rules and logic of genies and wish-making are tricky to follow at times, Ribar does a good job of developing realistic and likable characters. The heavy focus on the relationship between Margo and her parents, who have recently rekindled their relationship and remarried, dissipates midway through the novel and, by the end, disappears completely. Rich with romance, magic, and action, this novel will captivate teens while also cautioning them to be careful what they wish for.-Nicole Knott, Watertown High School, CTα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
For anyone who thought Disney’s Aladdin was the last word on genies, think again. High-school senior Margo McKenna finds herself in possession of a genie’s ring and the limitless opportunity three wishes offer her. Margo is thoughtful and meticulous—a maker of plans with dreams of songwriting success. She will not make her wishes lightly, especially when her attractive genie, Oliver, reveals that his life is in danger and he wants the final wishes he grants to be truly special. Margo and Oliver are extremely likable, with an easy camaraderie that pulls the reader straight into the story. (Margo’s take on “those girls” who fall in love with otherworldly beings is especially, self-referentially amusing.) They are supported by a strong cast of secondary characters who are closer to magic than they realize. Margo and Oliver’s backstories unfold to set up for a finale that sneaks up on the reader and (hopefully) sets the stage for a sequel. A strong and pleasing debut. Grades 7-10. --Kara Dean
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Top customer reviews
Interestingly enough, it was the middle third of this book that I loved. The beginning third felt like fluffy and predictable fun, and last third wasn't executed very well, though that might be my personal bias!
But whatever my issues, I couldn't put the book down. The pacing and the page-turning were excellent.
I'm a sucker for a romance between two people from different backgrounds, and Margo's and Oliver's developing friendship/romance was the high point of this book, especially the dialogue between them. I LOVE a cheeky dialogue, especially when the character's reactions are well done. Oliver was utterly lovable because he was so sure of himself, and then he'd be unexpectedly alarmed by Margo's off-the-wall questions. I loved how she kept him off-balance. She even kept herself off-balance:
As I pulled up in front of his building, I racked my brain for a good parting line, something that would make me sound witty and thoughtful and, most of all, worthy of kissing again in the future. After a long moment, I finally came up with, "Um."
A large part of the book revolves around Margo's decision on what three wishes for Oliver to grant her. She puts a lot of thought into these, much more than, say, Disney's Aladdin (tons of Disney Aladdin references in this book by the way. And only one Princess Bride reference, which might not even have been a real Princess Bride reference but instead maybe a reference to As You Wish by Jackson Pearce, another high school genie novel).
Oliver, with his wish-granting experience, has some really thoughtful insights on issues with wishes too, such as:
"Trust me: wishes that affect other people aren't ones you should make lightly."
Toward the end, the convoluted issues pertaining to wish-making and fulfillment really started making my head spin. Honestly, I got a little confused with it all, but the consequences of a wish were so high stakes at that point that it was a breathless sort of I-have-to-find-out-what-will-happen confusion.
The author introduces a couple new rules or twists to genie mythology, both of which were cool enough that I'm going to consider them spoilers. Generally, like I said, the plot is sort of a play off Disney's Aladdin movie, with some snarky twists and mind-benders (some of which worked, some of which didn't, at least for me). But I sure appreciated the attempt.
I have to say something about Margo's home life, where her parents (divorced for 9 years) have just gotten remarried, and they refer to her as their Hayley Mills (the original Parent Trap star). I liked this unusual parent scenario, and even more, Margo's realistic annoyance with it (silly lovebird giddy parents!). But it gradually became clear Margo resented her parents getting back together because she no longer had her mom all to herself, and she missed their previous closeness and dependence on each other. Now that's a valid character issue, but what eventually troubled me was that Margo never has much to say about her dad. It's all about her mom. I just wanted to hear more thoughts on her dad. Why was he so overlooked? My vote for the sequel is I want Margo to write some song lyrics about him.
The antagonist, Xavier doesn't show up until halfway through the story, with just a few skimpy hints about him earlier. When Xavier got involved, things got really scary - and then sort of...weird. But the "weird" comment is likely a personal bias: the trick Xavier played on Margo at her opener, and the after effects of that, just turned me really sour for me. I didn't get Simon's reaction, I sort of got her mother's reaction, her dad didn't have any reaction, and I just crumpled up (not in a good way) over George's reaction and Oliver's lame attempt to help with excuses. Oh, and I didn't like that Xavier disappeared for such a long time from the second half. It lessened the tension.
I was so invested at this point, that I kept reading frantically, but little doubts started sneaking into my head in the last third of this book. Things kept happening that I didn't like (again, probably personal) or that I just didn't get/connect with. For instance, I DID NOT LIKE Oliver's age (almost 200). Now, I'm not automatically dead set against teenager girls falling for very old guys. If you give me a really, really good reason for it, I can buy it. This reason wasn't integral to the plot (maybe it will be in the sequel?) and Oliver's past wasn't well developed, so it felt supremely unnecessary and a little weird. He's too sweet for it to be creepy, but definitely weird.
Likewise, the complicated past between Xavier and Oliver didn't feel real. Possibly because it was done all through telling, instead of showing. The mention of the Djinn was intriguing, but confusing, and the lost power... whaa?
And while I'm ranting, okay, I knew what Margo's final choice (minor spoiler ahead) would be miles away: the fourth wish (which is hinted at in the book's blurb: taking more than three wishes to save him. The idea of a fourth wish was REALLY COOL but unfortunately it made the ending really predictable. And what happened to the production of Sweeney Todd that was such a big part of the beginning of the book? And what the heck happened to Naomi? - she was too good of a character to leave out of the ending.
The ending had to wrap up quickly, I get that, but I hated that Margo didn't get a chance to resolve anything with Naomi (in fact, I can't help but think it would have been much more interesting with Naomi playing Simon's role at the end).
Characterization: 3/5 for everyone except for Margo and Oliver. 4's for them.
Setting: 4/5. I really liked Oliver's illusions. Very well done.
Dialogue: 5/5. There was actually too much dialogue at the end (a bit too much telling instead of showing), but the dialogue between Margo and Oliver was so wonderful I'm going to stick with a 5.
Personal appeal: 4/5. Going into this it was a 5. I loved the premise, even though the second half wasn't executed as well as I'd have liked, personally. I'm still definitely reading As You Wish, which has a similar premise; I'm curious to see the differences. Also I'm looking forward to another genie story coming out soon: The Binding Stone by Lisa Gail Green, which features a female djinn instead.
Margo's literary scale, where 1 is "merely entertaining" and 5 is "really made me think": I'm wavering between a 3 and 4. This book is mostly page-turning entertainment, but there was some real thought given to the choices of wishes, which made me think too.
Second, there is an interesting treatment of some issues of gender which I really responded to. I even love that on the cover the gender of the characters isn't immediately obvious.
Overall, it was a really fun, engaging read. Having heard the author do a reading I knew that I was going to respond well to the writing style and humor, and I did! For fans of YA paranormal romance, I hope you're looking forward to this one, because it's something very fresh!
The product was in excellent condition.
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"What girls?" he asked, perplexed.
"Those girls. The ones in all those books and TV shows.Read more