I’ll be honest. I wasn’t sure when I started reading if I was going to enjoy G. Willow Wilson’s Alif the Unseen, but I’ve never been more delighted to be wrong (about a book, anyway). Once I got into the mystic, jinn-blue heart of it, I couldn’t put it down.
I’ve seen some references here and there that liken the novel to Harry Potter, and I think I know why. Willow Wilson is incredibly skillful in taking the mundane and making it magical, which is even more of a feat given she does so with a) the Middle East, a world largely mysterious to the Western reader already, so she’s almost doing double the work, and b) the seemingly black and white, zeroes and ones world of computers. I was so impressed with the believability of the hacking that goes on in this novel, along with about a thousand (and one nights) other things. Like Rowling, the world leaves me wanting more, to the degree that I wish there were a journaling community where I could pick up a Sila character, or at least a forum with some illuminating fanfic about Vikram and the Convert.
My tastes, they are so much less lofty than the aims of this novel. I hope it’s okay if I love it anyway.