The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
Publication Date: February 23, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from First to Read
Summary (from Goodreads):
She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world...
When Aladdin discovers Zahra's jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn't seen in hundreds of years -- a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra's very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.
But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?
As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.
What I Liked:
I honestly have no idea how to review this book. It. Was. AMAZING. I've been waiting for this book for about two years now, since Khoury announced that her Aladdin story would be A Book. I adore Aladdin and all things Aladdin-retelling-y, so I knew I had to read this book. It's my first Khoury book and it certainly did not disappoint!
This is a retelling of Aladdin like you've never seen. Zahra has been trapped in her lamp for thousands of years. It's by chance that a poor boy, Aladdin, finds the ruins in which she/the lamp lies, and takes the lamp. In Parthenia, jinn are hunted and captured, and Zahra's existence isn't allowed. Zahra is offered a chance at freedom by the King of the Jinn - rescue his son, who is trapped in Parthenia, and the King will free Zahra of her lamp. Aladdin is Zahra's best chance at getting into the Parthenian palace. But Zahra finds that she can't use Aladdin as a means to an end - she falls in love with him. In the end, she must choose - her freedom, or her love?
This book is written entirely in Zahra's first-person POV, which I thought was very different but an excellent way of bringing about the story! We're used to Aladdin telling the story, but it's Zahra. Five hundred years ago, Zahra was slave to the Queen of Parthenia, but the queen treated her like a sister and an equal. But this was her downfall, and five hundred years later, jinn aren't free to roam and live among humans. Zahra has a lot of secrets and a lot of history, and Aladdin/we discover it little by little. This gives Zahra so much more depth and character, given how heartbroken she is about past decisions, and how misunderstood her side of history is.
I really like Zahra, and I had no trouble connecting with her and understanding her. She's a powerful jinni, one of the last Shaitan. She's clever and tough and a warrior jinni through and through. I love how her mind works, and how she sticks to her plans and goals. Finding the Jinn King's son is her goal, but she doesn't expect to fall for Aladdin in the process.
You may ask, why doesn't she just abandon Aladdin and go look for the Jinn prince? It is because Aladdin has her lamp, and Zahra cannot go more than 150 steps away from Aladdin, as long as he has the lamp on him. So, she uses something personal to get him to make a wish to be a prince; Aladdin has always wanted to take down the vizier who killed his parents, so Aladdin agrees to wish to be a prince and they go to the palace, both with very different motives. Zahra does not tell him about hers.
I LOVE Aladdin! He is mischievous and wicked and so charming, everything that boy Aladdin in the Disney movie is, but in a more grown, mature sense. I mean, he's plenty mischievous, but he's also more of a man than the boy in the movie. He himself is also very smart, very clever, and oh so handsome. He's charming and adaptable, and he fits right in as a royal in the Parthenian palace. He's a good actor and a good person.
I absolutely love the romance in this book. It's a subtle thing, but the chemistry between the characters is always there. Zahra tries so hard to staunch her burgeoning feelings for Aladdin, because she knows that it can't happen, for several reasons. Aladdin makes no attempt to stifle his feelings, though it takes him (them both, really) some time to realize what is happening between them. There are some really steamy encounters in this book!
NO love triangle, people. There are secondary characters that are introduced that might SEEM like they could be legs to a triangle (on either side - Zahra's or Aladdin's), but I assure you, there is no love triangle. If this makes more sense: no one feels anything towards anyone else, and no one is interested in anyone else. A linear romance, I promise you! I'm stressing this because people will be introduced and might seem like threats but they never are and never would have been.
Khoury did an amazing job of creating and molding this jinn world to fit her story! So many words and names that I recognize from other jinn stories, and interesting spins on other concepts. The world-building is beautiful and well-written! This story is different from the original story of Aladdin, and wholly its own.
The ending is very busy and nail-biting! There is a lot going on in several different areas, and I was worried about several characters at once. I just could not seem to read the pages fast enough! I was very satisfied with the ending - it's a good one! Slightly on the cookie-cutter-perfect side, but I'll take it. I liked the ending!
What I Did Not Like:
I can't quite think of anything at the moment! This is more on the publisher's side, but I wish the publisher had kept the original cover! Nothing to do with the book itself, don't mind me...
Would I Recommend It:
I highly recommend this book! It was excellent! I had to read it over two days but I absolutely loved the book. There is a strong romance and lovely world-building! Plus, ALADDIN! Khoury does the tale of Aladdin justice, but also makes this story her own.
4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars. I'm not entirely sure why I'm rounding down to 4 stars - I'm still kind of vacillating in terms of the rating. It's a 4.5-star rating, people! I was extremely pleased with this book.
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