Friday, April 6, 2012

Book Review: Alif the Unseen By G. Willow Wilson

In an unnamed Middle Eastern security state, a young Arab-Indian hacker shields his clients--dissidents, outlaws, Islamists, and other watched groups--from surveillance and tries to stay out of trouble. He goes by Alif--the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, and a convenient handle to hide behind. The aristocratic woman Alif loves has jilted him for a prince chosen by her parents, and his computer has just been breached by the State's electronic security force, putting his clients and his own neck on the line. Then it turns out his lover's new fiance is the head of State security, and his henchmen come after Alif, driving him underground. When Alif discovers "The Thousand and One Days," the secret book of the jinn, which both he and the Hand suspect may unleash a new level of information technology, the stakes are raised and Alif must struggle for life or death, aided by forces seen and unseen. 


Twitter: GWillowWilson

Also wrote: The Butterfly Mosque; Cairo; Air series; and  more

My Review:

Story:   It's interesting, for sure. I haven't yet read a book with the middle east as the setting where the main protagonist is male. But the issues it brings up, the truth behind the facade of this novel still hit their mark. The element of love has you rooting for Alif from the first chapter.

Favorite Quote:  "Metaphors are dangerous. Calling something by a false name changes it, and metaphor is just a fancy way of calling something by a false name."

Movie Potential: I have mixed thoughts on whether this would make a good movie or not. On the one hand, there's plenty of action and room for the special effects movies are so known for. On the other hand, the pacing is perfect for a book, but less so for a movie. A lot of the first part of the book would probably be lost and shortened. If anything, this would probably make a decent one-season television series.

Writing style:   The writing is educated, not patronizing to the reader in any way. I came across more than one word I had to look up, and it gave me a thrill I hadn't felt since fourth grade, learning new words from a book I enjoyed reading.

Other:     The elements in this novel are varied, but fit together well. Romance, danger, philosophy, revolution and society all play roles in the story and overlap without trouble. The different themes and escalating plot, starting from a man on his computer to a full blown revolution taking soldiers from multiple worlds keeps you on your toes, reading as fast as you can. It's not only captivating, but stimulating. It sends your mind reeling and proves to be unpredictable in plot or dialogue.

Overall Rating:    5/5 stars

1 comment:

  1. Ooh, this sounds like a really cool book. The Arab setting + hacker theme really intrigues me. Thanks for the review!

    Marlene Detierro (Cash for Gold)