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Becoming Jinn Hardcover – April 21, 2015
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*VOYA Starred Review and ranked as one of the Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror of the Year*
From New York Times best-selling author Anna Banks
"Becoming Jinn is a delightful portrait of what the life of a modern-day genie might be. Vividly imagined and written with spirit and verve." - Emmy Laybourne, author of the Monument 14 series
"Becoming Jinn is refreshing and poignant, navigating the turbulent waters of friendship and family while reminding us that every wish has its price. A captivating and magical debut!" - Jessica Khoury, author of Origin, Vitro, and Kalahari
"When Azra comes into her magical birthright, it means an altered appearance, unearthly powers...and a life of servitude. She's a jinn, living a seemingly human life--complete with a crush, a nemesis, and a part-time job--while exploring the extent of her powers with the help of her jinn family. It's a fresh, gently subversive tale with a new strain of paranormal problems at its core." --B&N Teen Blog
From the Back Cover
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.
Top customer reviews
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It introduces a main character who is likable, relatable, well-meaning, impulsive, stubborn, and at times selfish, but who is sure to make you laugh, roll your eyes, shake your head at some of the decisions she makes and situations she finds herself in, and sympathize with her for the lack of control she has over her own life.
Azra knew that the day she turned sixteen her entire life would change. Not that she had much freedom before, but now she’d be losing most of what little she did have.Try as she might, she could not alter the changes to her appearance that came with becoming jinn. She could not stop the bangle from being locked on her wrist that would allow her to use her powers to grant wishes. She could not refuse the assignments she was given without dire consequences.
But she would not hide herself away from the human world, having only her “sisters” as friends. She would not give up her friendship with Henry or forget about her crush on Nate or quit her job at the beach. She would not fall in line and become the model Jinn her mother was just because it was easier or safer or because her family wanted her to.
The Afrit may have the ability to take away everything from her, but if she could keep them from finding out who she was friends with, what she was doing, the rules she was breaking, the secrets she was keeping, maybe she wouldn’t have to completely lose herself. She knew it wouldn’t be easy, but she would not give up without trying to have it all. She just wished she knew what the consequences would be from the start.
Author Lori Goldstein has created an enchanting and incredibly addictive first book in her series that teases a world that is magical and dangerous and oppressive and beautiful. She introduces a people who have incredible gifts and can do amazing things but are kept on a short leash, are separated from their families, and are faced with terrible punishment if they step out of line. She gives readers a story that is exciting and humorous and heartbreaking and she presents it from the point of view of an endearing main character who is far from perfect but one worth rooting for.
BECOMING JINN is a positively delightful and spellbinding read that highlights the risks of having too much power, the danger of keeping secrets, and the importance of friends and family. It’s a story that will entertain from start to finish and one that will leave readers anxious for the sequel.
Further along in the story, we also got an explanation for why the Afrit need the Jinn to grant wishes. It all began to make sense in a super interesting way. There was much more to the story than a girl who doesn't want to grant wishes. I really liked how the choice of humans to grant wishes to wasn't up to Azra, but was decided by the Afrit. And the idea that she was linked to five other Jinn her age in a close group gave this a very unique aspect.
There is a love triangle, but for once, I couldn't say where it's headed. I do know I'm Team Henry!
I'd give it a five, except Becoming Jinn did end in an open cliffhanger. Not much got wrapped up in a tidy bundle when the book ended. That I didn't like so much. I guess I need to get the sequel to find out how it ends.
The key issues I had:
1) The beginning was very difficult to get into, despite my love for the concept. Too many characters were introduced far too quickly, which bogged things down unnecessarily and almost made me give up on the book. Lengthy descriptions of their physical appearances felt like all I remember of the first few chapters. Getting to know just a few of the most meaningful characters first would be a nicer introduction to the world.
2) Unfortunately, of the 10 or so characters, only a few played a critical role in the story. I felt a little frustrated that I spent mental energy on them.
3) The main character is a rebellious teen who does not want to become a jinn. Even so, it is hard to believe she wouldn't crack open a family book full of secrets out of sheer curiosity. We are told over and over how scarred she is from a traumatic childhood experience, but most of her redeemable qualities are skills she inherited vs who she inherently is as a person. Finding ways to make her seem more sympathetic would be good.
4) Almost nothing in the story is tied up! There is no real climax and no real satisfaction for the time I put into this book. I felt a bit cheated, as though this was a planned series cut off at a critical point to make me buy the next. After paying $9.99 for a download (higher than most in this genre) We don't even get resolution of a few critical issues between Azra, a close friend, her mother and the men in Azra's life. I understand that some of the larger issues related to the magical realm could be left for another book, but to spend so much time following characters who are unhappy, I expected some growth and resolution.
All the best wishes for success to this series and author.