Thursday, 19 July 2012

Alif the Unseen

Here's a little sneak peek for ya'll - Alif the Unseen – G Willow Wilson

Alif the Unseen is being hailed as the ‘Harry Potter of the hacker generation’, this is not something I agree with – the themes and characters are so far removed from Rowling’s world that I feel the comparison was made simply to drum up a buzz. Which is a shame, as this is a wonderful novel, full of atmosphere and written with a precision that allowed a complete computer illiterate like me to comprehend the world that Alif inhabited. Wilson plays with concepts of power, such as a name and the personality inherent in all those we take on, the Jinn are a people who place a great deal of importance in a name, and the fact that Alif chooses to be known by his ‘handle’ rather than his given name is proof of how he views himself. I found the world created by Wilson to be wonderfully foreign, yet at the same time incredibly real, I felt the world Alif lived in surround me as I read – this is a rare occurrence.

This is novel firmly set in the Middle Eastern world and mindset – Alif and his hacker friends (most of whom he has never met) struggle to provide a modicum of freedom in world where even the words you type are censored and cause for disciplinary action. This is a world that Alif is proficient in, a world in which he has a nobility that eludes him in the real world. However, all too soon Alif’s controlled world spirals out of control when the woman he loves sends him a copy of the mythical Alf Yeom – the Thousand and One Days, said to contain the wisdom of the Jinn, the magical creatures that inhabit a world alongside our own. The knowledge this book contains is enough to make Alif a target, a fugitive, it is worth killing for. Alif must use all of his skills and knowledge to free not only himself, but the oppressed people of his country.

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