Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Golem and the Jinni Book Review

Rawr Reader,

    My vacation from the blog isn't over but everyone cheats every once in a while and connects with the internet or their phone so I'll call this me taking a break from a break. ^_^
   This is a quick review of the novel The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. The synopsis is provided by Goodreads:

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899. 

Ahmad is a djinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world. 

The Golem & The Djinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

  This is a more or less new release and I've seen it many times when walking down the aisles of Barnes & Noble. And what drew me to it? Four words: Blue. Pretty. Cover. Fantasy.
  From that moment on, I was sold.

(safe for those who haven't read this book yet)
   Moving past the fact the cover is one of my favorite book covers as of late, this is an utterly beautiful tale of mythical creatures in turn-of-the-20th-century NYC. Oh, and I'd just like to add that this is the author's first novel.
    Do you have a book that you've read and once you turn the last page and close the cover and flip the book to see the front, you see how magical it is, like some kind of an aura beaming that you never realized would be there? And the title is just there sitting and looking at you as you slowly realize that this book is already crawling through the cockles of your heart and that it'll always be there to remind you of how you felt after finishing such an adventure of a tale? As I look down at my copy beside me, not only is the cover stunning, but now I know that its words below have captured something in my story-devouring heart. I say this because of its unique touch and heart-warming embrace. 
   Now I don't know if I feel so moved by the story overall or just by the ending-- which I loved-- but this book is right to call your attention. Looking at the title you're already signing a contract that you'll be committing your time to not only two mythical creatures, but how their world intertwines in the brink of a soon-to-born modern one. Two supernatural creatures that we almost never hear of in today's culture unless you watch Disney's Aladdin or play 1st generation Pokemon (which is pretty much the extent of my knowledge on them), are now reborn and maybe even explored in future interpretations as vampires and werewolves have in the past decade. The golem, made of earth and is solid, and the jinni, made of fire and who longs to be as free as the wind, both create a dynamic in their natural forms without even bringing into question their personalities, which for the story's structure allow us not to dwell too much in one state of mind.
   This brings me into the story's structure. While the story does alternate more or less chapter to chapter in between the characters, we also jump from past to present in unanticipated chapters. At first it became annoying since the names can be hard to remember unless you write them down or are naturally good with names, but after a couple chapters (at around the midway point), it becomes important how the past and present are tied and it unfolds major plot points successfully since it gives a glimpse of another character's life as well as give the reader an exotic, fantastic world we don't see in the present day. While there are fantastic creatures in the ordinary, modern world, it's nice to have a glimpse of ordinary people in fantastic worlds (more or less.)
   Now how about these characters: from the main to the supporting characters, we see the personalities ranging from the promiscuous to the sexually abstinent, from the conversationalist to the mute, from the headstrong to the weak-willed, from the young to the old. Almost every character you read about has an opposite and whether or not they interact, it's refreshing to be able to see how their personalities are so unalike in a community that shapes itself on how similar they are. My favorites are the protagonists: both Chava the Golem and Ahmad the Jinni. Just how they interact with each other and others brought the best for one another and it was admirable to see.
   What I found was the worst part was the pacing. The first half for me was the hardest to get through, I would put down the book and not feel the need to pick it up. Sad because I really loved the story-building-- it's just the plot that was lacking. 

I give this book 4/5 stars.

Author's Quote:
"He stared up into the sky beyond the parlor window. The vivid blueness stretched so high that it seemed to draw him up inside it, pure and wide and all-encompassing."
-Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Jinni

My Goodreads:

Next To Read:
A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

River Song's Spoilers:
(unsafe for those who haven't read this book yet, so don't read this section)
   While I was by the end satisfied with the ending, I was a little lackluster in the role of Sophia in Ahmad's life. She and Ahmad had an affair and so I thought she would have some half-human/ half-jinni baby, but instead the night she revealed she was engaged was the last time she was important to Ahmad's story, and that was far from the end. So in the end-- she was only important because her house would be the one to save Ahmad from dying. Now I probably wouldn't be feeling so strongly against her if we never were told some part of the story through her eyes-- but we were so I feel left unsatisfied. A sweet girl who wanted more from life who eventually was able to go out and travel the world-- but in the sense of the world and story of The Golem and the Jinni, she was a flat character, especially compared to the others who I felt were more colorful.
   As the end came closer and closer I was afraid in some way that Chava and Ahmad would split ways without remaining in contact-- especially since they'll live for centuries longer (at least Ahmad), but I was very pleased in the final pages when Chava got that telegram. 
   Though I did feel a little bad for those who died, in particular Michael Levy. He just wanted to love someone and be loved back and unfortunately Chava just can't love as easily as a human. But she did try to please him and make him happy so at least she wasn't torturing him just to be mean. But I loved Ahmad's reaction to learning she was married-- if I knew him in real life I'd tease him so much.
   And Ahmad is a new literary husband. Like, how can I deny that fact? 

Until Next Time,
Nicole Ciel

No comments:

Post a Comment