Alif the Unseen (review)

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Alif the Unseen (review)

  • Title: Alif the Unseen
  • Author: G. Willow Wilson
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; First Edition edition (June 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802120202
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802120205

I found this book while browsing at Small World Books on the boardwalk in Venice Beach.

The book starts with an old man who has enslaved a jinn to write a fantastic story; this is the story of a fictional Middle Eastern city ruled as a security state, and a young mixed race Indian/Arab who goes by the online handle of Alif, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet. It turns out Alif’s young crush is set to marry the Hand of God, the head of the online security system for the city. His crush passes along an old book to Alif, and the adventures start in earnest.

The book is hard to put down, I thought the story twists were occasionally expected but often surprising, and I loved the character and setting development. Having traveled to a couple ‘old / new’ places in Saudi Arabia, this book brought back memories of some of the neighborhoods. And this book uses the internet and information technology in interesting ways.

I don’t want to give anything away – if you like books that delve into the near future, other cultures, and have high-action moments, this is a great choice.

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