Friday, June 3, 2016

Novel Review: The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5
Genre: YA Fantasy Romance; Aladdin Inspired
Publisher: RazorBill (Penguin Random House)
Release Date: February 23, 2016
Spoilers?: No.

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

The Cover:

I absolutely love this cover. I think it's gorgeous, and represents the story perfectly.


I really wanted to love this book, but it was just okay.
This is inspired by Aladdin, with the main character being Zahra, a genie stuck inside a lamp that thief Aladdin finds. Aladdin wants revenge on the vizier who killed his parents, and he also wants to be in love with the princess Caspida, so he can be prince. Zahra just wants her freedom, and she wants to not fall in love with a human after what happened last time.
I did appreciate all of the backstories. There’s a reason for Aladdin wanting revenge, there’s a reason for why Zahra is inside the cave, we get to see the people living in the city and the poverty and who they really want ruling. There’s real cruelty, to the people, to Aladdin, to the vizier. There’s war, and there’s consequences for action, including magic ones to Zahra.
While the story is quite different from Aladdin, there are a surprising amount of similarities and plot points made in reference, and I appreciated that.
One problem I had with the book was the pace. Zahra has a time limit on what she has to do to get her freedom. She has about a month. And yet for almost that entire month but the last two days, she wastes it, and there’s very little mention at all of her working toward it. It drove me crazy. So little even happened for the first half of the book.
My other problem was the romance. I so badly wanted to love Zahra and Aladdin. But I just wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t feel their chemistry, and I barely even felt anything for Aladdin’s character at all. He just seemed too under-developed. It wasn’t until the last quarter of the book that I started feeling any intense emotion from Zahra at all, let alone real romantic feelings for Aladdin. I wish all of the book had been that intense, if not more so. 
It was just okay. I wanted so badly to love this book, but it was just okay in the end, sadly.

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