The Fire Wish by Amber Lough
Book One of The Jinni Wars trilogy
Publisher: Random House Children's
Publication Date: July 22, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
A jinni. A princess. And the wish that changes everything. . . .
Najwa is a jinni, training to be a spy in the war against the humans. Zayele is a human on her way to marry a prince of Baghdad—which she’ll do anything to avoid. So she captures Najwa and makes a wish. With a rush of smoke and fire, they fall apart and re-form—as each other. A jinni and a human, trading lives. Both girls must play their parts among enemies who would kill them if the deception were ever discovered—enemies including the young men Najwa and Zayele are just discovering they might love.
What I Liked:
A jinni-related book! I don't think there are too many jinni-related books in YA literature, especially these days. I don't see why not, there is so much one can do with jinni and wishes and such. If you're looking for fantasy novels featuring jinni, there is this one, and one coming out in October - Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios. I have that one - look out for my review in late August/early September ish.
Najwa is a jinni, Zayele is a human. Both live in two very different worlds, but the worlds are connected by one thing: the jinn and human races are at war. Jinn are not permitted to enter the palace at Baghdad, due to strong wards. But somehow, Najwa gets in. And on her third time to the palace, she gets caught. By Zayele, who is on her way to the palace to become the second prince's bride, against her will. Zayele forces Najwa to grant her a wish: to let Zayele go home. This wish does not happen as expected, because Najwa is stuck in Zayele's world, and Zayele is sent to Najwa's.
At first, I was a bit skeptical. The whole switching-places thing, the deception, the scrambling to find one's way in a new world, I'm not always a huge fan of that. But I found that once we got to the wish that Zayele made Najwa grant, I was sucked in. I HAD to know how Najwa would pull off trying to act human (because jinn don't leave among human, obviously, and Zayele came from a very distinct tribe). I HAD to know how Zayele would pass off as a jinni, since she had no jinni powers, not even the symbol that marked her as one of the jinn in the Corps.
I also don't necessarily like when a book is told from two different people, both of those people being girls. I know that sounds really bad, but I like split narratives with a guy and a girl. When it's two girls, like two sisters, two best friends, etc., I tend to really like one of them (usually whoever's narrative was featured first in the story), and I tend to seriously dislike the other. Not so in this book. I liked Najwa more, but that doesn't mean that I didn't like Zayele.
Najwa is such an interesting character. She's slightly anxious, a bit unsure of herself and her magic, but headstrong and brave. She was extremely upset when she realized that she was stuck in the human world, that she was caught to begin with, but she immediately took to pretending to be Zayele. In my opinion, she did this flawlessly, even when she felt shaky and exposed.
It took me a little bit to understand and like Zayele. Najwa is featured first, and I wanted to get back to her story. But Zayele's side of things is heartbreaking. Her father traded her to the vizier like she didn't matter. She didn't want to go, but she went without too much of a fight. She didn't want to dishonor her tribe, which is noble. What she asked of Najwa wasn't far-fetched or cruel - she did what any desperate girl would have done in her situation. I ended up liking Zayele a lot, and I was rooting for her at the end, hoping that she would succeed in, well, what she needed to do. No spoiling!
So the plot surrounded Najwa and Zayele's switching. Najwa is with Rahela, Zayele's cousin, and Rahela knows that Najwa is a jinni. Rahela helps Najwa enormously, especially with acting human and about Zab (Zayele's tribe). Zayele is discovered in the jinn world before Najwa is discovered in the human world (I don't think this is a spoiler, because it's totally inevitable). Things aren't just about the jinni that got through the palace wards, or the human that got sent to the jinn world - the girls will realize that there is so much more than what they taught was a simple wish. There were twists and turns and curveballs that I really did not see coming - props to Lough for that! So well done!
The romance - yes, there is romance in this book. I saw it coming, on both Najwa and Zayele's end. In the beginning, Najwa is "supposed to" be in love with Atish, a talented jinni. She doesn't, and he doesn't necessarily love her, though they are good friends And of course, Zayele is supposed to marry the second prince, Kamal. So, what do you think happens when the girls switch? Personally, I didn't care much for Zayele and Atish. Not that I didn't like them together, but eh. I really REALLY liked Najwa and Kamal together - they are totally perfect for each other. Contemplative, thoughtful, intelligent, clever - they are too smart for themselves, and so sweet for each other. Love!
A general note - the world-building in this book was STUNNING. We have several "worlds" in this book - at the palace in Baghdad, and the jinn world (not sure what to call it, I think I missed that note). Both worlds are so well-described, so intricately constructed. I could imagine the garden at the palace pretty perfectly, down to the selenite ball. The imagery in this book is so wonderful. The settings were rich and captivating, the characters fleshed-out and "real".
Seriously, I loved this book. The beginning was slow (see the next section), but once things got going, they were going. I LOVE how Lough built this story (both in this book and in the series) - the set-up is amazing, because I can totally see the possibilities for the next book (and in the series in general). Brilliant! This book was brilliant. I want more!
What I Did Not Like:
I mentioned this above, but something that I noted was the slow start. I remember reaching around page 58 and wanting to stop for the night. It wasn't that I was bored, it was that I didn't think much was happening, like the story wasn't going anywhere. I kept reading though, and around page 100 or so, things started to get interested. Yes, it took about 100 of the 320 pages for this book to really start. BUT, stick with it. I promise it's totally worth it!
Would I Recommend It:
Yes! There aren't many jinn-related books in YA literature, so I think this is one not to miss. Also, in general, it's an awesome fantasy novel! I love the culture infused in this book, as well as the fantasy elements of princes and palaces and whatnot. And the romance! I love it! Seriously, there are so many fabulous things about this book. I could go on and on!
4 stars. An excellent debut, truly remarkable! I cannot wait to read more from this series, and from this author. SEQUEL, NOW.
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