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Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints
Nancy Kress
The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment's Notice
Todd Henry

The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel

The Golem and the Jinni - Helene Wecker A very unique world. However, despite what I said earlier, about how the author managed to tell so much backstory without it being boring... You can only do that to so many characters back to back before it becomes a bit irksome. This book definitely tested my limits. It seemed like every time I started a new chapter, I was inundated with a huge chunk of backstory for a character I hadn't gotten to know or care about yet. Over and over. So the pace seemed really, really slow.

Then, suddenly, it picked up. Things started happening at a frenzied pace. Everybody was discovering something or doing something interesting all at once. I couldn't put the book down. Strangely, though, this all seemed to happen before the climax.

Unfortunately, I doubt the climax will be that memorable within a couple weeks. For one thing, it seemed like they gave up too easily. Why didn't she just go ahead and stick him back into his lamp? And for another... neither of them actually did anything in the climax (the random secondary ice cream character saved the day—really???), and the sacrifices they made didn't seem to matter. I think the narrative even shifts viewpoints at once point and even says something like "It seemed like the three of them were just standing in the room, having a quiet discussion" from Ice Cream Sauleh's POV. The Golem sacrifices her freedom to save Anna, but it goes back to classic ethics. Do you save the pregnant woman's life instead of stopping a psychopath who will enslave jinnis the world over, doing terrible things, and probably not giving a damn who he kills on his path to glory? Or do you stop the psychopath at the potential loss of the pregnant woman's life? I suppose the point was that the Golem thought of Anna as a friend, and sacrificed to save her friend, but I never really got the feeling that their relationship was that strong, even at the dance hall. I guess I just wasn't convinced by any of that scene.

Still, the incorporation of Jewish mysticism, the time period it's set in, and the idea of combining a jinni and a golem into one story... These were all very fresh. It's a great read.

Sometimes it's the books that are so close to being truly extraordinary that disappoint me the most. For what they could have been.