Tuesday, September 01, 2009

JD's Take: As You Wish (Jackson Pearce)

Let me begin by saying that I'm pretty sure this book wasn't written for me. That is to say, it's target demographic does not extend so far as straight white men in their mid-to-late-twenties who still think that digital watches are a pretty neat idea. My confidence in this fact relies largely on the following:
  1. It is "hidden" over in YA, and my usual excuses for venturing over there do not apply (ie, neither Gaimen nor Pratchett wrote it)
  2. The cover is... not compelling. (Yes, I judge books by their covers. It usually works out.)
  3. My almost unhealthy lack of fixation on unicorns
  4. The alarmingly pink cover (sans dust jacket)
  5. My friend's gleeful exclamation when I told her I finished: "I knew there was a 15 year old girl in you!"
I picked it up anyway! Ha ha! See how I defy expectations! True, I know the author but still! Expectations!

The story follows a young woman named Viola as she struggles to deal with her status as a liked-but-ignored outsider in high school, and her devastating breakup with her it-turns-out-quite-gay best friend. Also she manages to summon a genie on the third page or so, so there's that. It's a story about love and self-reliance and loyalty and wishes.

Jinn (that's the jinn Viola summons. Try to keep up.) comes from a world called Caliban where all of the jinn were exiled to in time immemorial. Pearce had fun with Caliban, and some of my favorite parts of the book were explorations of that world. It is very possible that this says more about me than the book. Caliban is basically timeless; jinn only age when they are on earth granting wishes. It is ruled by an elite of ancient jinn who parcel out assignments to Earth, punish jinn who break the rules, and try to convince everyone to please have sex before we all die out please thanks. Once summoned, Jinn just wants to grant the requisite three wishes and get back to being immortal with the scantily clad jinn chicks in the perfectly beautiful world and delivering flowers and not knowing anybody's damn name.

Viola, on the other hand, rather sensibly wants to make sure she doesn't squander her opportunity by screwing up her wishes. Which I thought was smart, but apparently Caliban looks ill on that sort of behavior and sends jinn MPs to stress her out and make her wish faster. They are dicks. Meanwhile, Jinn starts actually liking her and her insistence on treating him as a friend so he makes rather a mess of the whole following-the-rules shtick. Hi-jinx ensue!

No lie: this book reads fast. I chewed through it in a single Saturday, and still had time for kayaking. More importantly: I was compelled to finish it in a single Saturday. I wasn't immediately drawn in, but I found it extremely difficult to put down once I hit the halfway point or so. The characters are fun and believable. The world is very-authentic feeling high school with interesting and non-standard fantasy elements. The ending satisfies, and everyone learns at least one valuable lesson. Even the mean ones. Bottom line: while not something I would pick up unprompted, this was a very enjoyable read.

Holy crap is that cover ever pink though. Seriously.


Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

Hi-- I looked and looked on this blog but I don't see any profile or any way to contact the collaborators. I'd like to get this blog listed as a book review resource, but I would need to know your submission guidelines and how authors and publishers can contact you to send you their books.

Here's the website where I would like to post:


Please let me know if you accept book submissions from small presses and self-published authors.

Dustin said...

Dear Editor,

My name is Sebastian A. Jones. I have created a new comic book line, "THE UNTAMED: A Sinner's Prayer," through STRANGER COMICS. We are an organic homegrown comic company who strives to release the first dark and brutal fantasy ongoing universe in comics!

I originally started creating the world, ASUNDA, 20 years ago in England where I was raised on LARP, Muddy Waters, and Clint Eastwood flicks! So now, I am reaching out to those who my stuff is intended for! I would love to get your feedback and ask for your support [providing you like it] to spread the word through your role-playing community, that finally there's a comic that is for the folk who are thirsting for quality tales and art, and not the corporate dumbed down crap!

I would love to send you a complimentary PDF.copy of our first issue of "The Untamed". And if you like it enough I can send a physical copy or two for competetions and whatever fun you can think of. Hit me up on my email!

Here is what one savvy fan has said;-]

"What's not to love about Jones and Bergting's THE UNTAMED: it's a Sergio Leone, Frank Frazetta, William Blake fever dream mashup. And that's just where it begins!"
Lloyd Levin (Watchmen/Hellboy/Boogie Nights)

All the best!

Sebastian A. Jones
"The Untamed: A Sinner's Prayer"
Stranger Comics

P.S. We recycle!