Aug 26, 2012

"Alif the Unseen" G. Willow Wilson (ARC)

Title: Alif the Unseen

Author: G. Willow Wilson

Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.

Imprint: Grove Press

Publication date: July 3rd, 2012

ISBN: 9780802120205

(Book read from an e-copy from August 19th to August 24th, 2012, acquired through NetGalley from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.) 

My rating: 4.5 of 5 


From the author of award-winning graphic novels comes a stunning and propulsive debut novel, blending cyberpunk adventure with the enchantment of Middle Eastern mythology.

Alif the Unseen is a masterful debut novel, an enchanting, incredibly timely adventure tale worthy of Neil Gaiman.
In an unnamed Middle Eastern security state, a young Arab-Indian hacker protects watched groups from surveillance and tries to stay out of trouble - until he falls in love with the wrong woman and unleashes a forbidden text thought to be written by the jinn. 

As the book opens, Alif's computer has just been breached by the "Hand of God," as the hackers call the state's electronic security force, and he is scrambling to protect his clients - dissidents, outlaws, Islamists, and other vulnerable groups in autocratic states across the region. The aristocratic woman Alif loves has jilted him for a prince chosen by her parents, and when it turns out the fiancé is the Hand, and the state security forces come after Alif with guns drawn, he must go underground, trying all the while to fight back against a piece of code he wrote to protect his lover but which the Hand is using to create the most sophisticated state surveillance the world has ever known. When Alif discovers The Thousand and One Days, the secret book of the jinn, has fallen into his hands and may unleash a new level of information technology, the stakes are raised and Alif must struggle for life or death.

With shades of Neal Stephenson, Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman, and The Thousand and One NightsWilson's Alif the Unseen is a tour de force that will enchant readers- a sophisticated melting pot of ideas, philosophy, religion, technology, and spirituality smuggled inside an irresistible page-turner. 


My Thoughts on the Book:

Alif the Unseen was such a great read. It definitely reminded me a little of Neil Gaiman's American Gods & Neverwhere, too. But, it was different, and a brilliant story in its own way. 

I have to admit that I didn't know exactly what to expect when I started reading it. Although I usually read the description before I start the book, this time I didn't, but basically the story is what is described in the summary. 
Alif is one of the best hackers, and he had fallen in love with a wealthy Arab girl Intisar. But, Intisar's parents get her engaged to another, and Alif is quite heart-broken, and from there his troubles begin. I won't go into details, but Intisar sends a book called A Thousand and One Days a.k.a Alf Yeom to Alif, and he & his neighbour Dina are on the run from that moment on. They go to ask for help from Vikram the Vampire, who is one of the jinn, and they go on quite the adventure. 
We meet a lot of characters in this book, but it was easy to keep track of them. I really liked Dina as a character from quite early, and until I finished this book, I loved both Alif & Dina as characters, but the thing that surprised me the most was that my favourite character became Vikram, and that was definitely unexpected.  I found all the secondary characters likable, but the one I have to mention that showed in the last part of the book & cracked me up so much, it was NewQuarterOI. As for the Hand, he was such an evil guy, but in the end he got what he deserved. 

Also, this book was full of twists & turns, although to be honest, Alif the Unseen was one of the few books I didn't try to realise where it was going or what will happen next & how it will end, I just enjoyed the journey. 

I loved the confrontation between Alif & the Hand, it was so great and unexpected, I actually smiled on that part, and I absolutely loved how this book ended, it brought a smile on my face, and I actually wanted to hug the book (and if it wasn't a galley, and I owned a physical copy, I would've). 

So, Alif the Unseen is quite an imaginative read, that mixes mythology with computer technology in a good way, and that will take you on quite the adventure, which when it will end, you'll be eager for more! So, definitely one of my favourite reads now, and a book I'd love to read again, so I highly recommend it!    



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