Monday, October 22, 2012

As You Wish by Jackson Pearce

All I've learned in Shakespeare class is: Sometimes you fall in love with the wrong person just so you can find the right person. A more useful lesson would've been: Sometimes the right person doesn't love you back. Or sometimes the right person is gay. Or sometimes you just aren't the right person.
Thanks for nothing, Shakespeare.

After falling in love with Jackson Pearce's sophomore novel, Sisters Red, she became one of those authors whose section in the library I check nearly every time I visit. Thus I found her debut novel a few weeks ago and immediately checked it out. I just now managed to get around to reading it, but I am immensely glad I did. I read it all on one sitting that lasted about five or six hours. My day off couldn't have been better spent.

Viola Cohen's whole world felt like it had been ripped apart when her best friend and boyfriend, Lawrence, admitted to her that he was gay. Months later, they're still best friends, but Viola feels invisible and alone, as if a part of her has been broken.

Her greatest desire is to feel like she's a part of something again, the way she felt when she was with Lawrence. She doesn't want to feel invisible anymore. She wants to love someone and know that they love her too. It's the strength of this inner wish that summons the jinn.

When the jinn appears, he informs her that she has been granted three wishes. He expects it to be a routine venture to the world of humans, but Viola isn't like any of the other masters he's come in contact with up to this point. She speaks to him like a person, not just a wish-granter, and she evokes something in him that he's never experienced before--a longing for the friendship both she and Lawrence extend to him and, even more consuming, a longing for her. These are unprecedented and entirely unusual for a jinn. They aren't meant to get attached. They're meant to grant their wishes and go, but Jinn's not so sure he wants to go home anymore.

Viola gets three wishes. Three wishes and Jinn will be gone from her life forever. She won't remember him and he'll go back to his world, Caliban, until he is summoned by another human with a wish. It's not until after she has made her first wish that they begin to realize that they're feelings toward each other are more than anything they could have expected. Will Jinn help heal the brokenness in Viola's heart, only to have it broken once more and break his own heart in the process?

Once again, Jackson Pearce has created a fantastic story based on a classic fairytale. Technically, it isn't a part of her series of fairytale adaptations, but I still think it fits in that category regardless. I don't think I've ever read an adaptation of any stories involving genies before. In fact, it took me a few pages to get the image of the Aladdin genie voiced by Robin Williams out of my head. But it wasn't that difficult. After all, Jinn is a whole other species of genie than the crazy blue one I'm thinking of.

I particularly liked her description of Jinn's home world of Caliban, where the jinn have been banished. It's a beautiful place filled with beautiful people, but because of its lack of flaws is subpar in a way that makes complete sense, yet is kind of mind-blowing. It's our flaws and differences that make the human race so different and, eventually, so appealing to Jinn.

One of the things I really enjoyed about Pearce's other book was the creation of characters that were believable, well-rounded, and that carried strong emotional bonds for each other. Though these relationships were inherently quite different than the ones portrayed in Sisters Red, they still bore that essential loyalty to the people that were most important in the main characters' lives. Each cared deeply for the others and wanted most of all for the ones they loved to be truly happy. They wanted them to be happy being themselves, not trying to be copies of anyone else or copying what others were doing. Being happy with oneself and being happy with that was a major theme throughout the book that I deeply appreciated.

Jackson Pearce is clearly a fabulous storyteller. I cannot wait to read more of her work and it certainly won't be long before I'm scrambling for the next of her books I can get my hands on.

Rating: ★★★★☆

I'm . . . jealous.
Wait. No. I can't be jealous. My fingers tense and I can feel my pulse throbbing under my skin. My heart pounds in my chest and my mind races. The image of Viola and Aaron collides with the realization that I'm jealous. Jealousy is a mortal emotion. One that means I have something to lose--something that, if gone, will tear away a part of me. Jealousy is not for my kind. And yet there it is: I'm jealous.