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The Golem and the Jinni (The Golem and the Jinni, #1)
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Emmie Mears (emmiemears) | 47 comments Mod
Post all discussion about the Golem and the Jinni here! Beware of spoilers if you haven't read yet -- all plot points are fair game in this discussion.

Have fun!

Krista (kristaaa) | 4 comments So excited for this read-along! This is already downloaded to my Kobo. I have less than 40 pages left in The Spider (Estep) and then I am going to dig in!

Emmie Mears (emmiemears) | 47 comments Mod
I'm really excited as well -- I've been meaning to read it.

Megan McCabe Weee! Okay the book has been downloaded and after I finish 'The Yard' I'll be all set to begin :)

Emmie Mears (emmiemears) | 47 comments Mod
Chris wrote: "had on my radar for months and starting it tonight."

Yeah, this book came up several times when I asked for 2014 book recs last month!

Emily | 3 comments! A discussion about The Golem and the Djinni? I'm in heaven! I loved this book so much that my heart ached for it weeks after I finished. It was so very well done. I really hope Helene Wecker writes more along this vein.

Emmie Mears (emmiemears) | 47 comments Mod
Emily wrote: "! A discussion about The Golem and the Djinni? I'm in heaven! I loved this book so much that my heart ached for it weeks after I finished. It was so very well done. I really hope Helene Weck..."

I'm waiting by the door in anticipation of the post arriving today! :D

Natasha Raulerson (raulersonwrites) | 5 comments I am diggin' the prose in this book. It's very well written, but I'm not a fan of too much back story in the form of info dump. We shall see what happens.

Megan McCabe Just started this last night and am digging it so far! I loved the golems entrance into New York and the interplay of Jewish and Middle Eastern myths. I don't know a lot about either so hopefully there'll be even more details as we go on. :)

Emmie Mears (emmiemears) | 47 comments Mod
I started last night as well and am suddenly 120 pages in. The writing is arresting, and I really am finding myself enjoying reading a book in omniscient POV. So rare to see that. I guess an argument could be made for it being 3rd limited, but with the frequent change in characters it feels more omniscient.

I wish I didn't have to go back to work.

Nikki | 14 comments I just finished the book today as a matter of fact and loved it! I happened to come upon your group this afternoon and saw you were reading this, so I took it as a sign that this may be a good group for me to join :) I really enjoyed this read especially because I love the interplay of old-world mythology and recent history. The characters are also superb.

Krista (kristaaa) | 4 comments Finding this to be quite an enthralling read. About 70 pages in right now. Can't wait to get back to it!

Emmie Mears (emmiemears) | 47 comments Mod
I'm about a third of the way through right now and really loving it. I'm excited to be off on Monday so I can get some good reading in.

Brian (brian_oconor518) | 19 comments I'm at Chapter 6 right now (page 80ish) and I echo the sentiments about the quality of the prose. The way Wecker describes the City and the way the characters interact with it is wonderful. Everything about it, the heat, the griminess of it is very tangible.

I am little put off by some of the info dumps for the minor characters too, but at least they're pretty interesting backstories. I especially enjoyed Ice Cream Saleh's tale.

Nikki | 14 comments Chris wrote: "had a slow start and so far i really enjoy the writing style but for me, as of right now, there is a fine line between details and minutia and it is falling so far, to the ladder. there is only so ..."

I can see your point Chris, but for me a lot of the fun of reading is being transported into someone else's constructed universe, so the more minutia (to a point) the better... For me I loved all the rich details in the Gollem and the Jinni, but I guess if the same details had been poorly written, that's when I would get board. I will conceed that Wecker does take a very long time to essentially introduce her characters, but don't wory, it picks up around the second half, and (very mini spoiler alert!) a lot of backstory will be revealed.

Brian (brian_oconor518) | 19 comments I don't mind the minutia so much, like I said before, all the little details about the City makes it feel more tangible to me. Though I do have admit to skimming over some passages. :) The 'Here's Character X and now 3 pages of backstory' bothers me more.

I have to say I'm also really enjoying the contrast better the Jinni's capricious freewheeling style and the Golem's overly cautious and sensitive demeanor. They're two very distinct characters and I'm looking for their eventual (I assume) meeting.

Brian (brian_oconor518) | 19 comments About halfway done, and it's moving at a leisurely, but still enjoyable place. The addition of Shaalman and his machinations to NYC has helped set up some conflict for later in the novel. The Golem and the Jinni's interactions have been pretty interesting so far, but mostly just showcasing the clash in their personalities. I find myself more siding with the Golem's most of the time in their arguments.

There is one thing that doesn't make a lot sense to me though - and it's a bit of a nit-pick, I'll admit - but why is the Jinni so adamant to deny the existence of God? He's from a world with spirits and magic and all that, why is a divine being so implausible to him? He even says that a 'God' could just be a jinni trapped in the sky. It kinda seems to me like a position just given to him by the author to manufacture more conflict between him and the Golem.

message 18: by Nikki (last edited Feb 13, 2014 11:08AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nikki | 14 comments Brian wrote: "About halfway done, and it's moving at a leisurely, but still enjoyable place. The addition of Shaalman and his machinations to NYC has helped set up some conflict for later in the novel. The Golem..."
I think for the Jinni, his old existance (before he was trapped in the form of a man) was just the way his world worked, and not magic or evidence of the supernatural for him, just as our ability to manipulate our world might seem like magic to some other creature. In Arabic mythology, the Jin live primarily on another "plane" if you will where the rules of our reality don't necessarily apply in the same ways.
But it's interesting the way the author touches on God without acctually choosing sides. It's clear that the Golem cannot exist without the presense of some kind of mysterious and unexplainable force that humans tamper with, but I felt that the players who knew the most about these mysterious forces(Shaalman, especially) had the hardest time controlling them, as if there really wasn't an intelligent force behind it all, but just the way the forces of the universe work in this constructed world.

Brian (brian_oconor518) | 19 comments Nikki wrote: "Brian wrote: "About halfway done, and it's moving at a leisurely, but still enjoyable place. The addition of Shaalman and his machinations to NYC has helped set up some conflict for later in the no..."
That's a good point about the Jinni's world not being supernatural to him because that's just the way everything was. I just don't buy that he would be so skeptical, I guess.

You're right, Wecker does a good job for being neutral on the matter, with the Golem having a retort for each of the Jinni's queries. It does seem like Schaalman is invoking some kind of divine (demonic?) power that is very much out of his control. There as passage where he sees a vision of 'The One', which had me wondering if this was a hallucination from the spell or if he was actually communing with some otherworldly power.

message 20: by Nikki (last edited Feb 13, 2014 04:35PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nikki | 14 comments Brian wrote: "Nikki wrote: "Brian wrote: "About halfway done, and it's moving at a leisurely, but still enjoyable place. The addition of Shaalman and his machinations to NYC has helped set up some conflict for l..."

I can see your point... The Golem's existance and the Jinni's unexplainable entrapment should be evidence to the Jinni that there is a powerful force at work that could be much more easily explained through the work of a god. To me though it makes sense given the Jinni's character that he doesn't believe in a higher power, while the Golem does if you think about it in terms of each character's agency over their own lives and attitude towards the world. The Jinni, who has lived most of his waking existance as the supreme master of his own life, and being endowed with great powers, has always felt a degree of agency over his own fate. Indeed, most of his internal struggle is coming to terms with his captivity and the fact that he has little to no control over his life at this point. The Golem, on the other hand, was born not to have any agency over her fate but to serve the wishes of another and she would naturally (if she still had a master) be unconcerned with her fate. Her internal struggle is almost the polar opposite of the Jinni's. She is coming to terms with the fact that she has a great deal of agency over her life compared to the life she would have had if her master had lived. If it wasn't for the evidence that there is a supernatural power at work, just by the Golem's existance, I would say it makes sense the two characters hold the views that they do.

Brian (brian_oconor518) | 19 comments Nikki wrote: "Brian wrote: "Nikki wrote: "Brian wrote: "About halfway done, and it's moving at a leisurely, but still enjoyable place. The addition of Shaalman and his machinations to NYC has helped set up some ..."
Yes, I agree with all of that.

I have no doubt that the revelation of the Jinni's entrapment will have some connection to that girl (Fawa, I think) he has been involved with in the flashbacks and not some kind of divine intervention. But, with him having so much power and freedom, it wouldn't be a huge leap for him to assume the entrapment was the work of some greater entity.

I have been the enjoying the dichotomy between their personalities and life experiences so far. I'm going to assume as the story progresses the Jinni will learn the merits of discretion with the limitations now on his powers and the Golem will figure out that she does have some control over her own destiny and will take hold of it herself.

Emmie Mears (emmiemears) | 47 comments Mod
I finished the book last night at about 3 AM. While I was up late, I wouldn't say it kept me up, more that I wanted to finish it because I have so many projects this month. :P

So even though we're in a discussion thread with the word SPOILERS in it, I'll warn you again...if you're NOT finished, there will likely be some spoilers in what I write in the rest of this comment. :)

I have to agree with what a lot of people have mentioned about the plotting -- "leisurely" is a good word for it. I actually felt a little too led by the nose through the conclusion and denouement, and I think what I felt lacking throughout the book was a sense of urgency. For instance, the many flashbacks and the omniscient point of view worked for me at first, but as the book went on, I found them a little too much, a little too "here's the answer" when I wanted a red herring or two. For instance, as Brian said in his expectation that the Jinni's entrapment would have connection to Fadwa --SPOILER-- he was absolutely right when it would have perhaps been more interesting had Wecker twisted that expectation in a different direction.

While the writing was fluid and well-crafted, it the plot itself felt a little contrived to me. That said, this being Wecker's first book bodes well for her subsequent efforts. I think this was a decidedly solid debut (and I mean, hell, if your debut hits the NYT list, you're preeeetty much golden).

I liked the book a lot, and it kept me reading, but when I finished it I did have to wonder a bit if I would have been as driven to read it if I weren't reading it on a timeline.

I'm really curious to hear everyone else's thoughts on the conclusion.

Krista (kristaaa) | 4 comments Finished on Friday. Horror of horrors-my Kobo ran out of juice when I was 10 pages from the end. Huddled on the couch beside my laptop while it charged I finished with a satisfied smile on my face.

I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. I loved the interplay of the different ethnic groups. Ice Cream Saleh literally melted my heart!

I read a lot of series so this all-in-one was quite gratifying. While the door is open for another installment, it is certainly a wonderful stand-alone story.

Unique, engaging and heartwarming!

Megan McCabe Well I just finished this yesterday and overall I really enjoyed it. I agree with a lot of you that the pace was on the slow side, and that all the descriptions and side stories made for a languid read, but I liked the central story of Chava and Ahmed. I wish though that they'd been able to break the guys spell at the end instead of merely trapping him. I kept waiting for Chava to break free on her own, but instead she still has the compulsion; She just doesn't have to carry it out as Schaalman (or however you spell it) is in the bottle.

Was anyone else disappointed that Chava and Ahmed didn't really fall in love? I know their natures are so different, but I kept excepting more to happen between them. I do like that he's going back to her as it shows growth on his part from being someone worried only about his own pleasure to someone worried about others. But it felt like nothing's truly resolved. The poor ice cream man is dead, the rich girl is still sick, and Chava and Ahmed are still bound to Schaalman. I keep thinking that if anyone finds that bottle, they're in big trouble!

Emmie Mears (emmiemears) | 47 comments Mod
Yeah, I ultimately found Schaalman to be not particularly satisfying as an antagonist. He seemed to take an odd turn toward wanting some form of redemption and his motivations got a little fuzzy for me at the end.

I think I connected more to Ahmad throughout, because he at least embraced his agency, and I found Chava a bit hard to relate to, even though it was her nature to obey as a golem. I think it would have been interesting to see her do something that defied her nature or at least went beyond the strictures of how she was made. She was, for me, exactly what Schaalman had created her to be.

Emmie Mears (emmiemears) | 47 comments Mod
Yeah, the stuff with Sophia got under my skin as well.

I'll talk about some things I really did like -- I loved the detail work Ahmad did on his little figurines. I could picture them vividly and really loved that he felt so compelled to work with his hands.

While the pacing was a bit slow for me, I was able to get through the book really quickly. I was reading another book this year that was, comparatively, very fast-paced and just could not get into it at all, so it says a lot that her writing and characters were enough to propel me through where the plot wasn't hopping along.

I really loved the rabbi. He may have been my favorite character in the book.

Megan McCabe I loved the rabbi too, but I actually did like Chava a lot. I thought that she much more human than I'd expect from a clay woman and that her love for those around her was something that rubbed off on Ahmad throughout the story. I wish though that they'd handled the Michael element better. I didn't care enough to be sad when he died like I was when the icecream man died, but still it seems a little too pat.

And more Sophia. She really got a raw deal there. Something I just found out is that the author lives near me in Pleasanton and a friend of mine had the opportunity to meet her. She told me that the book is a meld of the author and the author's husbands cultural background and fairytales so I think that explains the fairytale feel that David mentioned.

Megan McCabe Chris wrote: "everyone has some good thoughts and i agree with a lot of what David said.

was it just me or did anyone else get a pervasive sense of the bleakness of a human existence? many times Ahmed or Chava..."

I have to agree with you Chris. A lot of the book was just learning to except your lot in life and not try to change it too much (or else you'll end up dead like Fadwa, pregnant and alone like Anna, or sick after a mystical pregnancy like Sophia {and writing that sentence just made me realize how much having sex outside of marriage hurt the characters in this book lol >.<}). I had hoped that Ahdmed's quest for freedom would have been granted - and that he'd have pulled Chava along with him, but that's not what ended up happening. I'm not sure if the bleak attitude has to do with the religions behind the myths involved or was something made by the author. She did have Ahmed question religion and god, which I wasn't bothered by as it seemed like a plausible position for a jinni. But was Wecker trying to say that one has to make peace with what god gave them? I couldn't figure out what the underlying religious message was supposed to be :)

message 29: by Brian (last edited Feb 19, 2014 05:50AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Brian (brian_oconor518) | 19 comments Finished it this afternoon and enjoyed it overall.

Like most have said, the prose was very well done and helped with the leisurely pace of the story. Even some of the slowest portions, the vibrancy of the writing kept me turning pages. Like a bunch of you said, there wasn't much immediacy in the narrative, but I still found myself engaged because the quality of the prose and strength of the characters.

I can understand how Chava might not be relatable because of her subservient personality, but I found myself more sympathetic towards her than Ahmed. Her problems were not of her own making, she was created and thrust into circumstances beyond her control. Ahmed, who brought tragedy upon himself with his own capriciousness, seemed less sympathetic to me.

I didn't mind so much that Chava and Ahmed didn't end up falling in love at the end, I actually preferred it. Their relationship always seemed more like friends who came together out of circumstance and shared fate rather than lovers. Even though Ahmed was somewhat jealous for Chava's marriage to Michael, I didn't think it was out of love more than the loss of someone he had found a bit of kinship with. It would have really bothered me if they kissed or something after she pulled him out of the fountain too.

Schaalman only somewhat worked as the villain for me. I loved the revelation of his true self and while he was cunning and devious enough, I never thought Chava and Ahmed were in true danger of him because of his physical frailness. I didn't have any problem with his motivations at the end - throughout the novel the impetuous for all his machinations was to stay alive as long as possible, so the idea of making Chava the guide and guardian for all of future selves seemed like a logical extension of that.

Ice Cream Saleh was probably my favorite part of the novel - such a great redemptive character arc with him.

Wecker could have skipped everything with Sophia and nothing would have been lost, in my opinion.

Emmie Mears (emmiemears) | 47 comments Mod
Ice Cream Saleh was super fabulous. I really loved his character a lot.

message 31: by Clarice (new)

Clarice (embereye) | 4 comments Whew! There's been a lot of commentary so far that I am trying to read through. Some quick thoughts as I finished it a few days ago and while overall it was somewhat enjoyable, I felt so dissatisfied by aspects that I went directly to a new book right away. On one hand, I was happy that there was a lot of mostly correct detail about NY. Living in NYC and knowing it very well can be a burden when a person sets their story there and doesn't know where anything actually is. However, it was also so much telling and not showing. Probably the only time I felt like the writer gave a feel of NYC was when she shoved characters onto the train system.

I also had a lot of trouble getting through it because of how leisurely everything was. Like, until the last 30% of the book, I felt like there was no urgency. Doodoodoo, living my supernatural life, going through the motions, here, have ten pages of backstory. Oh btw, here's a magician-y dude who is going to totally mess some things up out of fear of death. Yay!

I also had some problems with the "the jinni is completely selfish and uncaring of all the human women he boinks and impregnates. also btw, he has super fire sperm." stuff. What? If clay cannot create life, how can another mystical creature? Is it because he's from nature and not manmade? Or is it because he's a dude? OR maybe he's nature's way of punishing women who for once decide not to say no? Maybe that was just my reading on it?

Sigh. At least Sophia got out of a loveless match and got to go wander in hot places until she felt better?

message 32: by Nikki (last edited Feb 23, 2014 12:16AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nikki | 14 comments I agree with most of you, that while as a whole I found this book enjoyable, the whole demon-cannibalizing-fire-fetus thing was unnecessary to the plot at best, and pretty disturbing overall... The whole my-demon-spawn-is-eating-me-from-the-inside-out trope is really overused, and (feel free to disagree with me) has some pretty misogynistic undertones because it tends to reduce female characters down to being slaves of their own biology. Sophia's pregnancy felt a little like something that would happen in "Twilight" as a means of punishing sexuality in women while men don't suffer anywhere near the same supernatural ramifications (sorry to all you twilight fans- it's just my opinion).
Really, all 4 women in the book that had premarital sex all suffered abuse or terrible fates. To me, Chava's marriage to Michael (even though it in my mind doesn't make her any less likely to kill anybody) also drove home the concept that unattached women being sexual are dangerous things in this world... Heck, even Michael and Chava after they got hitched apparently couldn't even have sex without feeling all "impure".
Again, I really for the most part loved the two protagonists in this book and the rich detail, but it's hard for to let what happened to the other ladies in the story just slide without wondering why the author chose these fates for them.
Also, returning to the status quo for Chava and Ahmed really just made me ask myself, "So what are they gonna do when they inevitably get bored again? Take up playing bridge? Pursue an online degree just for the experience?" They have a lot of awkward time to kill, but at least they're together...

message 33: by Nikki (last edited Feb 25, 2014 12:47PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nikki | 14 comments Chris wrote: "Nikki wrote: "I agree with most of you, that while as a whole I found this book enjoyable, the whole demon-cannibalizing-fire-fetus thing was unnecessary to the plot at best, and pretty disturbing ..."

Thanks Chris- You bring up a valid point that the book's "universe" might call for valuing propriety and punishing promiscuity. I'm not really sure that that element added to the story in any way, especially since it didn't seem that the author was trying to put any religous tradition ahead of the others as far as accuracy is concerned (Shalmon, afterall was able to do occult like "magic" in every religous tradition he was born into, and probably each tradition had different attitudes towards sex). The author left the nature of God unclear in her universe, and for that reason I don't think her treatment of sexuality was done so to fit into a religous philosophy. Perhaps the author really wasn't trying to make any commentary about sexuality at all, or maybe it's meant to match the Victorian/Edwardian sensabilities of the book's main setting.

Natasha Raulerson (raulersonwrites) | 5 comments I'm going to admit, I didn't finish it. The reason being, like many have said, there wasn't a sense of urgency. The story, at least for me, was so slow paced and there wasn't enough drive to keep it going for me. While the prose were beautifully written, it just didn't keep my attention.

Emmie Mears (emmiemears) | 47 comments Mod
I could use a good book hangover. I'm hoping my TBR pile doesn't let me down this year. :)

message 36: by Day (new)

Day Al-Mohamed (dayalmohamed) | 3 comments Sigh. I just realized I'm a MONTH behind everyone. *sad face*

I just finished a short time ago. Darn audio books. Take forever.

I'd give the book a B-. Well written, though pacing is bit slow for subject matter, and while visually dense, is emotionally "thin." Interesting subject matter. It had the feel of someone writing in literary fiction who added fantastical elements for "novelty."

Think about it -

+The pacing is more accurate for literary fiction rather than speculative fiction.

+Chava and Ahmad operate as opposite sides of how one views their role in/as relating to their own community or society as a whole.

+The thoughts on Ahmad's walks on the natures and philosophies of life.

+AND with the exception the ending which really changed tone an started to read like a "traditional" genre book, you could REMOVE almost all aspects of the fantastical and tell it as the story of two immigrants in different communities in early America.

Just as a personal note, it was interesting reading this RIGHT AFTER sending my own novel to the editor "Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn."

Emmie Mears (emmiemears) | 47 comments Mod
That is really in line with everything I thought, Day.

Also, I think if you want to skip Desert of Souls in favor of starting Daughter of Smoke and Bone with us, no one would judge you. We pretty much universally disliked Desert of Souls. :/

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