Author: Lindsay Ribar
Genre: YA contemporary, Paranormal, Fantasy
Publication Date: March 21, 2013 (Penguin – North America)
Source: Publisher-provided ARC
Summary: He can grant her wishes, but only she can save his life.
Margo McKenna has a plan for just about everything, from landing the lead in her high school play to getting into a good college. So when she finds herself in possession of a genie’s ring and the chance to make three wishes, she doesn’t know what to do. Why should she put her life into someone else’s hands?
But Oliver is more than just a genie — he’s also a sophomore at Margo’s high school, and he’s on the run from a murderer. As he and Margo grow closer, she discovers that it will take more than three wishes to save him.
A whole lot more.
☆: 4/5 stars – A very original YA PNR story!
Review: Wow, you guys, this one was really cute. Not only cute, but a first in a new trilogy – genies! We haven’t had any genie stories (from what I can remember) in the YA PNR category yet, so this one was kind of a breath of fresh air. If you’re looking for a really original YA contemporary romance with just a hint of magical realism, definitely check out “The Art of Wishing”.
What I loved the most about this book: the worldbuilding. At first, it may not seem much – Ribar successfully shrinks Margo’s world down to school/town/friends, which is always a good move when you have something magical going on in the background. It helps the reader focus – I know it got me to focus. But what really caught my attention was her attention to detail in terms of the rules of the world – specifically, the magical rules of the world. What genies can and can’t do. How genies are made. Things like that. She sets these rules pretty firmly very early on, but there’s a bit of flexibility when each new Big Reveal is brought to light. This is so important and I feel like so many magical reality/paranormal/fantasy/etc books don’t do this enough. So my hat definitely goes off to Ribar for getting this right.
Aside from the main cast (Oliver, Margo, Xavier), I feel like the other minor characters needed a bit more work. I do realize there are two more books in which this can get done, but for a first book (or even as a standalone, a lot of the other characters (Vicky, etc) felt a little too 2D. As for Xavier and the GLBT bit, I’m not sure how I feel about him being vengeful and full of feelings for Oliver (still), but Ribar makes it clear that all genies conform to their masters’ wishes, so it sounds like there might be more cases of this in the GLBT sense out there. I hope that this gets dug into a bit in books two and three more, because I had a bit of a kneejerk reaction. As in – why is the main villain angry and gay, if not bi? It didn’t sit well with me to say the very least, as I’m in the GLBT community.
What was also good: the pacing. Snappy, but not too fast, we’re given a time limit and that’s always a great kick in the ass for characters in terms of tension building and atmospheric/world-building. Oliver doesn’t have much time yet, and even I could feel that pressure of the walls starting to close in after awhile, and that was exciting (even if I am quite panicky and claustrophobic in real life). We really feel this vice of time squeezing on Oliver and Margo, along with Oliver’s history, which eventually comes to light, as of that of the genie race as a whole.
Finally, the romance. While there was a bit of an insta-love feeling to things (at least, on Oliver’s side), Ribar has the loophole that genies often fall for their masters, whether they wish it or not. Which, if you think about it? It’s a damned good loophole and it was exploited well. And it worked, the romance worked well, it was believable, and I really enjoyed it. If anything, I’m pretty excited for book two to see what happens (because that semi-cliffhanger, oh wow!).
Final verdict? If you’re looking for something new and fresh in paranormal YA, definitely check out “The Art of Wishing”, which is out March 21, 2013 by Dial/Penguin in North America, so be sure to check it out then!