I have three different kinds of books.
The first kind I read, love, treasure for all eternity.
Books like this are… The Adventure Series, by Enid Blyton, or The Selection by Keira Cass or even I Am Number Four by Pitticus Lore.
The second kind I read – and possibly don’t finish reading – hate and donate to a charity store.
Books like this have been… Gone by Michael Grant (those books are weird!) ALL of Twilight (I am sorry, I tried!) and honestly? Countless others that I won’t even list here.
The third kind are an interesting type. They’re the ones I read, enjoy – albeit mildly – and then a few months later don’t remember the plot/main characters of.
The Forbidden Wish, by Jessica Khoury was one of those kinds of books.
Don’t get me wrong, the concept is excellent – a retelling of Aladdin? Yes please!
And yes, she has an excellent first name – Jessica is the supreme name after all.
But the reality is that yes, I enjoyed the Forbidden Wish, but I probably won’t be able to remember it in a few weeks time.
I’ll set the scene. Zhara, our protagonist, is a Jin, a Genie of the Lamp, bound inside and buried in a destroyed Empire only to be discovered by thief Aladdin.
Aladdin has a bit of a problem with Darius, who is the nephew of the current King, and Darius’ dad because Darius’ dad murdered Aladdin’s parents. Oh by the way, Aladdin’s dad was this rebel leader in their Empire called the Taylor.
So having stolen a special ring off of Darius, Aladdin finds himself led to this buried empire, where he finds Zhara and sets her free from her lamp, making him her master.
Let me be clear, Zhara is NOT the Genie we remember from the Disney Aladdin, she is young, pretty and very obviously going to fall in love with Aladdin, so you’re going to have to scrub those Robin William’s voiced Genie images from your mind in order to process this book.
In short, Aladdin wants to overthrow Darius and his uncle – who are basically in charge of the Empire, while the actual King is basically incapacitated. Aladdin’s methods are to pretend to be a prince and have the actual Crown Princess, Caspida want to marry him superseding Darius, who is actually meant to marry the princess.
Zhara however is promised her freedom by the Most Powerful of the Jin – and the one who bound her to the lamp – if she rescues the Jin Leader’s son which unfortunately is going to mean betraying Aladdin.
That in itself is the plot. Zhara falls in love with Aladdin, but she doesn’t want to because Jin and Humans can’t mix, and Aladdin is falling in love with Zhara but needs to avenge his parents etc.
There are highlights of this book:
- Strong female lead characters. Zhara is pretty interesting as a personality, as Caspida is my absolute favourite. They manage to be strong and purposeful, without falling into traps of being overly sterile or violent – like how I find Katniss to be in the Hunger Games for example.
- Amazing writing technique. Jessica nails the world she is writing about. The descriptive pieces where she is explaining this world her characters are found in are just amazing. You basically want to be there.
- I like time travel plot twists, and this book has one. I won’t reveal what it is though
There are also lowlights…
- What the heck Aladdin? You don’t actually have a personality… because he doesn’t. He’s a bit lame and I kind of wish we had more of a twist with his character
- What the even was going on with that whole rebel, phoenix thing? You won’t understand this without reading the book, but I felt like there were some very big ideas that weren’t linked well together or in some cases, concluded
- It was a bit wishy washy. Initially the book was hard to get into, until after chapter four or something. All the way through though I found it quite blasé.
In conclusion, I read this book, but will likely forget huge parts one day.
In saying that, I will at some stage in the next few years stop and think to myself ‘Oh yes, I want to read the Forbidden Wish’ and then I will have to go and find it or hope I didn’t donate it to a charity store.
If you’re looking for something really descriptive and entertaining, then by all means get your hands on this, I’d give it a three out of five?
Right now, though, I am pretty content with my childhood version of Aladdin thank you very much!