Jennifer's Reviews > Alif the Unseen

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
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's review
Aug 13, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: romance, fantasy, fiction-adult
Read from August 10 to 13, 2012

Alif is one of the few books that I can honestly describe as unique, different from the scads of fantasy, hacker or Middle Eastern setting novels out there since it combines all of these things. As a woman straddling two worlds (G. Willow Wilson is an American woman raised as an atheist who converted to Islam, married a Muslim Egyptian man and spent significant amounts of time living in Egypt), Wilson offers insight into Middle Eastern society that seems like more than canned Western propaganda or well-intentioned tourist opinion. Wilson's writing is deceptively simple and readable and she somehow manages to explore complex ideas like religion, politics, freedom, prejudice and cross-culturalism with brevity. There are times when the characters' commentary (especially in the case of Dina) or self-revelations (Alif) come off as preachy, but these passages were usually short, and they didn't bother me terribly much, likely because I agreed with their sentiments. The characters were surprisingly well-developed, but I craved a bit more depth.
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