Monday, April 22, 2013

Early Review - The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (3/5 stars)

Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Size: 496 pages
Publisher: Harper
Date: April 23, 2013
ISBN: 978-0062110831
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: ARC through Amazon Vine
Rating: 3/5 stars

I got a copy of this book to review through the Amazon Vine program. I was very excited to read this book, it just sounded so unique. After reading it though I was a bit disappointed. It starts very slow, the story does pick up over time. In the end though it was a very long and wordy historical fantasy that probably could've been much shorter.

The main story is about two magical creatures, a Golem and a Jinni who find themselves in New York City in the early 1900's. Both arrive under strange circumstances and struggle to make a life for themselves entwined with the hustle and bustle of humanity.

The book diverts to a number of side stories about the people who live in New York City and touch the Golem’s (Chava) and Jinni’s (Ahmed) lives. As such, it is told from a plethora of points of view. I felt that this made the story drag out and at points it felt very fractured. In general, while it was an interesting concept, I had trouble staying engaged with the book and constantly found myself falling asleep while reading it.

The Golem and Jinni are both interesting characters. Watching them struggle to hide their natures from the general populace was interesting. It was also interesting how polar opposite they were. The Golem was made to be the perfect wife; as such she is intelligent, conservative, and incredibly thoughtful of those around her. She can hear people’s thoughts and is constantly trying to make them happy. The Jinni on the other hand is volatile, arrogant, and constantly leaving a line of conquests in his wake. Their stories offset each other nicely.

Unfortunately it takes a long time for the story to get going. I also found the style of writing somewhat hard to read, it just didn’t flow all that well. As a result I struggled through the first couple hundred pages, constantly falling asleep over the book and skimming pages to get to some actual solid content. Seriously, I was slapping myself trying to stay awake to read this book. It got better in the second half of the book after all of the characters were introduced and we could finally focus on the story and plot.

This ends up being more a story about a living thing’s struggle to live, than an actual fantasy. There is a lot about human nature and how people find purpose to their daily lives. So yeah, this is one of those kind of books.

It was an interesting look at life in New York City in the early 1900's. I really enjoyed the glimpse into New York City’s past and reading about how things were for immigrants back then. That was probably the most enjoyable aspect of this book for me.

The book wraps up well enough, if a bit too neatly and conveniently.

Overall an okay read. I enjoyed the contrasting natures of the Jinnin and the Golem and how their stories contrasted each other. I also enjoyed the historical aspects of the story being set in New York City in the early 1900’s. I did not enjoy the incredibly slow pace or the numerous and rambling points of view. They compare this book to The Night Circus, and I would definitely recommend reading The Night Circus over this book...that’s a much better book.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 150+ Reading Challenge
- Debut Author Reading Challenge

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