Monday, April 28, 2014

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

All of us are lonely at some point or another, no matter how many people surround us. And then, we meet someone who seems to understand.

Why I read this book

I bought this book one day at CostCo (yes I shop at CostCo, you guys, I get paid once a month and so I have to stock up, don’t judge me!) because I saw the cover, read the back and thought…hu, this seems interesting. And then, I put it on my shelf while I caught up with other books I previously bought. And then, all of the sudden I start seeing reviews of it all over the place! And the Once Upon a Time challenge was coming so…here we are!

What the book is about

The book follows two mythical creatures of two different cultures. A female Golem who loses her master from the beginning and a Jinni who has been trapped for the last millennium. Faith has it that they both arrive to New York during 1899. Two very different characters that will touch other people’s life in very different ways. When they finally meet, a strange friendship is formed as there temperaments collide at first and complement later.

First impressions

The book has a very beautiful prose. It is easy to get deep into the story, and since inside every chapter there are jumps from the different POVs (not only the Golem and the Jinni but also others around them) you get this eagerness to continue reading to know what happened to every single one of them.

Final thoughts

I quite enjoyed this book. It has a lovely story and particularly liked how the personalities of the main characters somehow balance each other out. At some points their conversations felt to me like I imagine a shoulder angel and devil would be. Not to say that the Jinni is evil, but is creature of desire, who doesn’t have the reflex to think of others and in the other hand you have the Golem who has a very hard time thinking of herself.

It was very beautiful to see how the first companions both the Golem and the Jinni tried to explain human nature and their behaviour to each one. Trying to explain the limitations and advantages of both tendencies (self-absorption and self-ignorance if you will).

In a way, the struggle both parties have to fit in, to involve themselves with a community resonate with how hard is to be the new person arriving, particularly when you arrive to an established community. It also touches the fact that there are always people who can see your true nature and people who are predisposed to see you only under a certain light.

I think the book was beautiful. I just felt that the conclusion, while very fair and what I was hoping for, was a bit rushed; at almost 500 pages I believe giving us those extra 16 (making it a round 500) would’ve allowed for a more round finale. Completely recommended for people who love fantasy intertwined with a bit of history and community building.

One can travel the desert for days, months, years, and never meet another soul

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