I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein
Series: Becoming Jinn #1
Published by Feiwel & Friends on April 21st, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
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.
I’ve been super excited about this mini-genie trend that’s popped up in YA the last couple of years, having loved The Art of Wishing and liked Exquisite Captive, but I suppose it was only fitting that at some point I’d come across one that I really didn’t care for. Becoming Jinn is – unfortunately – a boring flat mess.
I think the biggest issue Becoming Jinn has is that the plot is so weak, it’s near non-existent. Azra turns sixteen and inherits her jinn powers, and then it just kind of plods along. She has to grant her first wishes and finds out some more about her powers and the world the jinn came from, while also having to keep her identity a secret, but… there’s no pressing action. The jinn world is split and in peril, and there’s a rebellion secretly building in the background, but Azra isn’t involved in any of these things and just learns about them in passing comments. A lot of these things are withheld from the reader, I suppose to foster a sense of mystery and suspense, but there’s not enough left over to keep me engaged with the story. I just don’t care. About any of it. When some of this information is finally revealed (including what should have been a surprising twist but I’d figured out almost instantly), I merely shrugged – and then the book ended. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we have another “Wait, Nothing Happened in this Book” Cliffhanger.
And it doesn’t help that one of the main things Becoming Jinn does choose to focus on is a completely boring, chemistry-less love triangle. Yep, Azra has two love interests: the boy across the street, who she always liked but couldn’t be with because of the death of her best friend, and the hot guy from school who *suddenly* takes interest in her after she’s transformed into a hottie. Yes, he’ll say that he was interested in her before that, but apparently they hadn’t spoken two words to each other, so I kind of find that hard to believe. Then that romance is complicated by spoilery events, and Azra feels like she needs to stay with him because duty and. No. Just no. I have exactly zero feels. I don’t ship or unship either side of this triangle. It’s just so. freaking. boring.
I’ve talked before about how I’m a big character reader, so it pains me to have to say that I did not care for any of these characters. They’re all horrifically flat and boring and I cannot really even come up with any descriptors for their personalities. Azra seems to hate everything and has purposefully kept herself at a distance from her fellow jinn. But then she’ll muse on how it hurts to know those girls are close in spite of her. I have zero sympathy for your self-imposed exile. And obviously Azra is stronger than everyone else, because duh, she’s the speshul main character, and I bet you can’t guess why that is. None of the members of her Zar really stand out either except for the mean girl who is stereotypically mean and hates Azra because she’s more powerful than her, but obviously she’s also secretly vulnerable. I have no words for how these people bored me.
I guess the one thing that did have some development and creativity would be the world building, though again much of that is kept secret from Azra and the reader for most of the book. The rules of the jinn magic, the Zar sisterhood, and the class system ruled by the Afrit are at least mildly entertaining. But without a plot with substance and characters to draw me in, this book just doesn’t merit a higher rating from me.