Jinn and Juice
Series: The Jinni #1
Genre: Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Publication date: November 25, 2014
Cursed to be a jinni for a thousand years, Leila nears the end of her servitude—only to be bound once again against her will. Will she risk all to be human?
Born in ancient Persia, Leila turned to her house Jinni, Kouros, for help escaping an arranged marriage. Kouros did make it impossible for her to marry—by cursing Leila to live a thousand years as a Jinni herself.
If she can remain unBound, Leila's curse will soon be over. But Ozan Sawyer, a Magi with the ability to See, Call, and Bind jinn has other plans.
Oz needs Leila to help him penetrate Pittsburgh's steel-soaked magic, a juice potent but poisonous to supernatural creatures, in order to find a missing girl with her own mysterious connection to Kouros. Unfortunately for Leila, becoming Bound to Oz may risk more than just her chance to be human once more—it could risk her very soul...
-A copy was provided by Orbit for review-
I love chips. I know they’re unhealthy and will probably shorten my life span and that I will regret it later when I’m old and senile and cranky as frack, but I just can’t help it. I love chips of all flavors – cheese, BBQ, sour cream, cheesy jalapeño – you name it. I see a bag of chips and I brighten up quickly. They’re one of my guilty pleasures.
However, there are exceptions. There are times a bag of chips make me unhappy and unsatisfied. Like, you open one and realize that puffy bag of chips was actually made up of 25% fatty goodness and 75% air.
I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU BUT THAT BLOODY SUCKS, DUDE.
You’re probably wondering the relevance of my silly “bag-o-chips” drivel. Well, to be completely honest, there’s really nothing, but the disappointment between this book and that is pretty much spot-on. Jinn and Juice made me drool over its premise – an urban fantasy with a belly dancing jinni?! Magis (shameless plugging: there is actually a manga called “Magi” and it’s pretty fucking bad-ass. MUST. READ)?! Dude, something like that will rile me up faster than you can blink. Unfortunately, while the book was enjoyable at times, it definitely wasn’t all THAT like I expected it would be. I don’t consider it a fail as there were positive factors, but overall, meh.
Let’s talk about the setting. This world is OUR world except that it’s made up of two planes – Sideways and our own dimension. Sideways is where the purebreed supernatural creatures reside. Our world is where the humans and the half-breeds live. Sounds simple, yes? Basically, the reader is supposed to feel familiar with the surroundings because HELLO PITTSBURGH, but unfortunately, it never felt like that. It never felt like the world was set in Earth (with just a touch of magic) because our cast of characters never does any human activity that would actually make us feel they’re in Earth, making it feel like I was reading a story with a very, very fantasy setting. All they do is go to these places that are strictly for their kind, do things that are strictly for their kind, and then all of a sudden we get these pop culture references that make my eyes twitch in annoyance because they feel SO. OUT. OF. PLACE.
Do I make sense? The way the story was written, the way the setting was set up, it never felt like it took place on Earth so it decided to just throw in some popular movies and celebrity names to make up for it, which I felt was a major cop-out. It’s like “Blah blah blah blah PARANORMAL STUFF blah blah blah PARANORMAL STUFF blah blah blah DONALD TRUMP blah blah blah PARANORMAL STUFF blah blah blah TITANIC!”
And I’m like, “…what?”
Here are examples:
“He’s a jinni Donald Trump, Lyla. You know that. What do you think he wants?”
“… I don’t have anything to tell anyone that’s not already on Wikipedia.”
“I think he was manning up for a ‘We’ll die together!’ death scene, à la Titanic.”
…when the whole book feels like it takes place on a new world altogether. Can you guys see just how much it threw me off, every time this happened?!
And that’s not all my problems. The world-building is just super vague and shaky. We all have these mythological creatures from all kinds of mythologies all over the world, and we really don’t get much information about them to build a solid foundation for me to take it seriously. There’s a Seer from the Oracle, a kitsune from Japanese mythology, a succubus, spider wraiths, vampires, a Will-o-Wisp, a siren, etc. etc. and sometimes all we get are “they are older than humanity!” There are some explanations here and there, but they didn’t feel solid or meaningful enough for me to take a grasp of the world. It’s like, oh, okay, creatures from every walk of life are in here and we should just accept that as fact. Which makes me really bummed because it’s a world that has potential to be complex (as in Kate Daniels kind of complex), but the lack of depth just really blew it.
If there’s one thing this book is, however, it’s absolutely plot-driven. If you like books that are fast-paced, then this is definitely for you, because the action and the catalyst for the main plot starts really quickly and really early. It did leave me feeling very detached to the rest of the characters, though… there is not much backstory for many of them, although I won’t take this against the book because it’s obviously a series, and there will be more later on, but I did wish there was more internal narration from the main character. At some point, it was all ACTION ACTION ACTION and not much character development. It’s not that bad, but I guess I just prefer a balance.
I do love the heroine, though. She’s feisty, she’s courageous and strong-willed, she knows what she wants, and she endured a shit-ton of stuff for almost a millenia. However, like I said, her backstory was very minimal. It didn’t really bring out any emotional pull in me as it was told in a very “tell-not-show” way, and it definitely made me yearn for more.
Overall, not a bad series starter, but in the end, something that I am not enthusiastic for. There is potential for a big, vast, and complex world here, but the cop-outs and the way the setting was set up were monumental disappointments. I’m still interested in reading the next book to see where it will go next, as it feels like the real story has just begun, so here’s to crossing my fingers that it would be better by then!