Review: Becoming Jinn (Becoming Jinn #1) by Lori Goldstein
I received this book for free from the mentioned source in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.
Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein
Series: Becoming Jinn #1
Published by: Feiwel & Friends, Macmillan on April 21st 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Magic, YA
View on: Goodreads
Grab it: Buy on Amazon
About the Book:
Forget everything you thought you knew about genies!
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. As Azra uncovers the darker world of becoming Jinn, she realizes when genies and wishes are involved, there’s always a trick.
Becoming Jinn is the first book of the new Zar Sisterhood series from author Lori Goldstein. Set in the modern world with all the fantasy that Jinn have to offer, I am really looking forward to the rest of this series.
Azra has always know that she is a Jinn, a magical being that grants certain humans wishes, but that doesn’t mean she’s excited about it. Ever since she learned a hard lesson at the age of ten about how limited Jinn magic really is, Azra has wanted nothing more than to be human. This, of course, is impossible. On the morning of her sixteenth birthday, Azra wakes up with a silver bangle around her wrist that will release her magic and allow her to start granting wishes.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was the explanation of the Jinn and their world. The Afrit act as both police, judge, and jury when it comes to the Jinn. Jinn have been forced to stay in Janna, the world where the Jinn come from, while female Jinn stay on Earth, raising their daughters to be the next generation of dutiful Jinn. Azra’s mother was part of the last generation of Jinn to associate with men, fall in love, and have children the natural way. There are also some misconceptions about Jinn that cleared up. Humans are granted only one wish, not three, and they are selected by the Afrit and assigned to young Jinn women to grant. Jinn wear a silver bangle until they retire and are given a gold one instead.
The concept of a Zar was also really exciting to me, and something I hadn’t read of before. Almost like a coven for witches, your Zar is made up of other Jinn your age. These women become your sisters; you’re bonded for life once the last of the Zar turns 16. Unfortunately, since Azra hates the concept of being a Jinn so much, she isn’t exactly close to her Zar sisters.
Goldstein is a fantastic storyteller, who keeps you invested throughout the whole book. It never gets dull, never feels too slow, but isn’t so fast paced it gives you whiplash.
As much as I loved the fact that the story is centered on Jinn, and I loved the world that Goldstein created, the biggest problem I had with this story was Azra. It’s difficult to like a book when you take issue with the main character, but I really did enjoy the story as a whole, and do look forward to the rest of the series, Azra has so many issues. I try to excuse most of it by reminding myself that she’s 16, she’s stuck in a life that she doesn’t want, and she’s going to rebel in her own way. But she goes about it in such a terrible way. Every family has a cantamen filled with helpful tips, useful spells, and even delicious recipes from generations back. Every Jinn is supposed to study her family’s cantamen so that she knows how to do her job efficiently. Azra, however, refuses to crack it open. She’s convinced that being a Jinn is something that she can just improv and everything will turn out ok. She doesn’t think about the consequences of what could happen if she’s ill-prepared, of what could happen to anyone else, only herself. It also frustrates me that she spends so long away from her Zar sisters. I understand that she doesn’t want to be a Jinn, and not all of her sisters are what I would consider to be good friends (it wouldn’t be a good group if there wasn’t one nasty girl in the bunch) but at the same time, these girls are the only ones who are truly going to be able to understand her. They’re the only ones who she’s never going to have to lie to, the only girls who are capable of knowing her completely, and she doesn’t want anything to do with them. It’s something that I hope to see change over the course of the series, and I’m sure it will.
All of that being said, I had a hard time putting the book down. Goldstein is a fantastic storyteller, who keeps you invested throughout the whole book. It never gets dull, never feels too slow, but isn’t so fast paced it gives you whiplash. When I started the book I thought this was going to be the kind of series where each book centers a different member of the Zar, but now that I’ve finished it, I believe the whole series will center around Azra, which I have mixed feelings about. I look forward to seeing her character grow as the series goes on.
I’m giving Becoming Jinn 4 out of 5 controllers. It’s a great start to the series, and despite the issues I had with Azra, I look forward to seeing how the rest of the series unfolds.