Published by Random House on Jul 22, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, YA
Find the book: Amazon, Goodreads
A jinni. A princess. And the wish that changes everything. . . .
Najwa is a jinni, training to be a spy in the war against the humans. Zayele is a human on her way to marry a prince of Baghdad—which she’ll do anything to avoid. So she captures Najwa and makes a wish. With a rush of smoke and fire, they fall apart and re-form—as each other. A jinni and a human, trading lives. Both girls must play their parts among enemies who would kill them if the deception were ever discovered—enemies including the young men Najwa and Zayele are just discovering they might love.
I’d been waiting for this one for a while and I think it really delivered. The writing is good, the story is exciting, and the worldbuilding is creative.
Half of this book is set in Baghdad, the other half in the jinni’s caverns. The two unusual settings made the book really feel different from anything I’ve read in YA recently. All the little details, from what people are wearing to what houses looked like, were really interesting and add a richness to the story.
The plot moved along pretty fast and I never found myself bored with the story. The twists were interesting, and the climax of the book was really exciting and even a little heartbreaking. It felt like the end might be open to another book, but the central conflict in this novel was resolved, which is always nice to see.
The thing that really kept me from loving this book was the two main characters; Najwa and Zayele. Most of the time I think stories with two protagonists suffer from making the two main characters sound too similar and not have their own personalities. That’s not the case here, and both of them felt like their own person. My problem was I didn’t love either of their personalities.
Zayele was a selfish brat, and Najwa was shy and didn’t ever stand up for herself. Zayele gets a bit of a character arc where she regrets some of her selfish actions, but Najwa doesn’t really change throughout the book. I kept waiting for her to assert herself or show some character growth but she stayed the same throughout the story and that felt like a letdown, or like the author didn’t have a fully formed idea for this character. If there is another book in this series, I really hope Najwa gets to grow a little more.
The romances were definitely of the instant variety. The scenes between the two couples were pretty cute, but there wasn’t a lot of them. The romance didn’t get a lot of time to grow and develop, so in both cases it felt rushed. Neither of the male leads got enough time to feel very filled out as characters, and I would have cared about the romance more if I’d cared more about either of them. Still, I like romances and even though it wasn’t perfect I’d rather have the book include the romance than not.
I’ve heard this book compared a lot to Laini Taylor’s works. I loved the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, and the fact that this book was supposed to be similar was one of the reasons I wanted to read it. For better or worse, I really didn’t see the similarity. I guess the writing style is sort of alike, but I think the overall tone of this book and the Daughter of Smoke and Bone books are very different. I enjoyed both of them, but I wouldn’t put them in the same category.
Overall I thought this was a good read and I’d give it three stars.