Faye, la Patata's Reviews > The Golem and the Jinni

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
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How could I possibly review this in the most coherent way?

This book, a debut at that, is one of the best I've read this year. No, scratch that, it's THE best I've read in a long time, easily knocking over the ones I've gushed in the past few weeks to nothing. After turning the last page, I just knew it would be among my all-time favorites, together with A Monster Calls, Written in Red, and Blood Song. I've never felt this hypnotized, amazed, and captivated; the level of mesmerization is just so up there that after reading this book, I doubt I can find any more that would be able to set the bar even higher. Be careful, books! Thanks to The Golem and the Jinni, you'll be finding yourselves continuously compared to this stunning, hard-to-beat literary masterpiece.

A book that encompasses vast lands and centuries of loneliness and solitude, it is told in the perspectives of a dynamic cast of characters, with their own stories to tell, fears to hide, and desires to pursue, but it is told mainly in the eyes of Chava, a golem that was made to follow a master but unfortunately found herself having no one to guide her, and Ahmad, a jinni, who in a malicious twist of fate and unwanted circumstances, was trapped by a wizard hundreds of years past and now tied to a world he does not know. Two individuals with contrasting natures stuck in an environment they do not fully understand, I found them to be the book's strongest points, as their innocence and rashness were very endearing to read; every time they would wonder about human society — why do we have religion? Why do we hold out our desires and say what we deem is socially appropriate? Why is there a need for marriage and all sorts of rituals? — I end up pausing for a few minutes wondering about it, too, and the fact that it's being pondered on by an outside perspective, a magical being not of our nature, made it all the more thought-provoking. What's the meaning of life? What does it mean to really live? Are we really living or merely existing? Are we content with the monotony and constant routine of our daily lives, when we are capable of doing so much more? I loved how the book asked all these questions about human life and ethics from the point of view of a magical being, a creature not human, but more human than many of us.

Couple that with the beautiful narrative, it just makes the experience all the more bewitching and engaging. Wecker has this unique and spectacular way of making things so familiar to us — the buzzing of the city, the chattering of neighbors, the baking of bread, and everything else — become so big, and new, and exciting. The book does take on a slow pace. A lot of things and activities that we usually find mundane and boring were described constantly, but Wecker, being the awesome writer that she is, gave the book an atmosphere that was magical and surreal at the same time that these activities just became a part of the book's charm. The writing is just so beautiful, the prose sublime, the descriptions enchanting, that you just fall in love with all of its aspects. I'm sure some of you are probably thinking I'm giving it way too much credit, but I shit you not when I say that the author's writing prowess is the best I've ever encountered.

The plot is very slow. It unfolds itself in a snail-like pace, making you know the characters first, their place in the grander scheme of things, and their role in the overall story, revealing itself little by little in the background. It has a really interesting storyline that spans centuries of years to the present, a tale of maliciousness, consequences, revenge, and love. Because I believed the characters were the strongest points of the book, I thought the storyline, while good, was only secondary, but it was still very enjoyable and suspenseful nonetheless (especially when you have a creepy old man stalking you on his quest to find the key to immortality!). It has a very satisfying ending, with a romance that steadily gained momentum in the end, giving me a giddy, sheepish smile and a warm feeling tingling in my spine as I turned the last page, knowing deep in my heart that the two magical beings will find closure and happiness in the physical world.

All in all, these are what I have to say: engaging story, check; nicely thought-out three-dimensional well-rounded characters, check; beautiful writing, check; surreal, magical atmosphere giving the book an overall romantic air, check; wonderful world-building, check! This is a stunning debut, a book that deserves a place in all our shelves, because it's that good. You cannot miss this one out, folks!

Final verdict: 5 STARS!!!
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Reading Progress

May 15, 2013 – Started Reading
May 15, 2013 – Shelved
May 15, 2013 –
5.0% "Interesting, strong start. The writing is gorgeous. This is from a debut author? Really? That's hard to believe with prose as captivating as this one! And seriously, I need more books with Arabian mythology."
May 17, 2013 –
48.0% "I just love how this book explores human nature through the eyes of these two supernatural beings. Really, really good."
May 31, 2013 –
66.0% "I am a bit sad about this scene :( I was shipping both of them together!!!!"
June 1, 2013 –
94.0% "Can't the two of you just be together forever? ;-;"
June 1, 2013 –
100.0% "Sigh. Love this."
June 1, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-36 of 36 (36 new)

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Mitch Wow. What a review. I'm glad it had the same effect on you too.


Faye, la Patata Your review motivated me to read it, Mitch :D Thank *you* :D


message 3: by Caroline (new) - added it

Caroline TBR NOW! Thanks for your review!


Faye, la Patata You're welcome, Caroline. I really, really think you'll love this :D


Lectus And damn expensive! $12.50 on Kindle? I'll wait for the price to go down.


Faye, la Patata Yeah ;(( I wish adult books weren't so expensive!


message 7: by Caroline (new) - added it

Caroline For that much money, you deserve the hardback with the pretty cover, if you ask me. :]


Faye, la Patata Agreed :D I read the digital version, but I'll definitely buy the hardback once I see it in my bookstore


Lectus I don't have room for more books!


message 10: by Caroline (new) - added it

Caroline Lectus wrote: "I don't have room for more books!"

Yeah...I've had to install more shelves. :D


Michael Jones Like your review, Faye. The book is definitely hitting home with me as well.


Faye, la Patata Hi, Michael! Thank you! :)


Michael Jones :-] I definitely agree with you about building the plot slow here and taking the time to really know the characters with some great depth before things get fast and furious. This is very well done and I have taken a page from it for my writing.


Scarlet Fabulous review! Fantasy is my favorite genre and this one sounds like nothing I've ever read! I'm making this a priority-read now :)


Faye, la Patata Yes, Scarlet! You definitely should do that *-* Looking forward to your review!!


Audra I felt the same way. great review.


Faye, la Patata Thank you! :)


message 18: by S. (new) - added it

S. Davis Listening to this from audible because of your great review! Hey, also wanted to thank you for turning me on to Red Rising. I'd have never known anything about it, or if I did I'd probably have passed it up.
Definitely can't wait (I'm dying) for the other books in the series.
Now I'm trying this one. It sounds very intriguing. I love atmospheric novels, enveloping the reader like a warm blanket on a cold night. They are usually the least unforgettable and stay with me for years. This seems to be perfect for that.


message 19: by Faye, la Patata (last edited Mar 26, 2014 10:04PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Faye, la Patata @shanah - I'm so happy that you loved Red Rising! That one was really a surprisingly good read. The next book will be a long wait. I hope you love this one, too. This one is utter amazeballs and will push you to think philosophically.


message 20: by S. (new) - added it

S. Davis Damn @ the long wait of RR.
As for this book, I already love it, and it's my kind of book.
I don't mind, and, in fact, love slow paced, slow moving plots...when they're meant to be. This one was.
I never read reviews until I read the book and decide I like it one way or another (unless I'm searching for a new book).
So, when I realized that, yes, I love it, I came back and read your entire review.
I have to say that you write beautifully. You articulate very well, and with the occasional well-placed YA phrase like "I shit you not," you make the reader laugh and that makes your writing relatable.
I love reading reviews and think it's awesome when young reviewers put their best effort into reviews merely because of their love of a book.
Had to say that. Beautiful review!
And great questions, too. I'll be 39 this year and I'm still not sure what the difference between living and existing is, in the non-technical meaning, of course.
I think maybe sometimes I've really lived, and sometimes I've only existed.
But, if we can recognize the difference of the two, maybe we can also strive to do more living and less existing. Right? Lol, great reviews. Looking forward to getting more "amazeballs" book recs. :)


Faye, la Patata I know what you mean about living and merely existing :( I have this problem sometimes, and there are days it makes me cry when I feel like my life is simply floating by and passing before my eyes. I mean, I'm 21 now and yet I don't feel like I accomplished anything. Like I'm just there and I'm so tiny compared to everyone else having the time of their lives >_<

Okay, senti-mode over. Sorry about that. Haha.


Michael Jones It's not true, Faye! We are all struggling. It's the human condition! And people on the Internet want to appear more happy and prosperous than they may be.

Just sayin.

PS if you'd like to help me with my struggle, I would love it if you would give my children's fiction a read and just give me feedback of what you liked or didn't like. My book is here:

http://highpattern.wordpress.com/book...

But I didn't write the first part of what I said here just to get you to do that, so feel free not to if you don't have time.


message 23: by TL (new) - added it

TL might bump this up on my TBR (got this as a birthday gift), great review:)


Faye, la Patata You have to do so, Terri! This is one of the most beautiful books I've ever read, no freaking doubt!


message 25: by TL (new) - added it

TL Happy to hear that:-) *makes mental note* your gettin me excited for it


message 26: by Cihan (new) - added it

Cihan WHAAAAAAAAAT! Gimme dat book, gurl.


message 27: by TL (new) - added it

TL Tried reading it and the print was too small for my eyes apparently, got a headache while trying to read, shame too.. i was really liking it:( Go for the audiobook I guess, why do some publishers gotta make print so small? Bah...


Faye, la Patata Awwww :( I'm so sorry to hear that! Hopefully the audiobook will be good enough!


message 29: by TL (new) - added it

TL Faye (The Social Potato) wrote: "Awwww :( I'm so sorry to hear that! Hopefully the audiobook will be good enough!"

me too *hugs*


message 30: by Faye, la Patata (last edited Jun 06, 2014 05:46AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Faye, la Patata Oooh, 69 likes. Can we keep it at that? haha!


Hershey Fantastic review, Faye! I'm reading this right now and am really enjoying it!


Faye, la Patata Thanks, Hershey! This is really a wonderful book. It's been a year since I read it and it still resonates with me.


Steph I agree that the plot was certainly secondary to the characters, but once it picked up at the end I felt like it was an authentic reflection of the character struggles the Golem and Jinni had been dealing with throughout the book. I haven't heard of the other books you mention at the beginning of your review, so I'll have to check them out!
https://schmidtjohnson.wordpress.com/...


Yvette Loved your review, Faye! I couldn't agree more with everything you said about this book.


message 35: by Glen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Glen Which book called "Blood Song" are you referring to? Goodreads lists 7 books with that exact title.


Faye, la Patata Blood Song by Anthony Ryan! The first book is AMAZING, but the second and third books are a little "eh" :(


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