Review: The Golem and the Jinni

Posted: 22/01/2015 in book reviews, books
Tags: , ,

The Golem and the Jinni
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book does need a trigger warning for self-harm and self-harm being shown in a very flippant way(or I felt it was flippant). So anyone who is triggered by that be warned.

Coming in at just under 500 pages (484 to be exact), I’d love to rate this 2.5 stars.

As a person who is a fan of fantasy, historical type books, cultural books, mythology, study of religions, and historical fantasy I did enjoy this book. For a debut book this was actually not that bad.

The thing that really annoyed me the most can best be summed up from these reviews:
kitschy and clichéd
started to wear on me
atrocious fucking font
(seriously, read those three especially the last because I 1000% agree with the last on the font issue)
I can almost agree fully with this review
The last two sentences of this review I can’t agree more with

A few further thoughts about the font is the page numbers at the top are fucking hard to read when your eyes start swimming because you’ve been reading for a few hours. And because of the font it took me 3x longer to read than it should have (my reading pace 5 hours maybe 6 max).

Don’t get me wrong, I’d LOVE to rate this 5 stars. However, because of the font (which made me want to quit more than once) and the clichés and the fact that some of the characters could have used more actual characterisation and the scenery could have done to not be as detailed as it was, it was enough for me to bring the rating down two stars and a half (if I could do half stars).

So, while I loved the book it did have its problems.

I fell like the respective cultures weren’t really given their due. Granted I don’t know a whole lot about Arabic cultures and traditions and I know a little more about Jewish culture and tradition and about the same both for their religious views. But maybe this would have been better explored by someone else writing this? Like I know the author has stated she is Jewish and her husband is Arabic (I don’t remember if she mentioned where specifically but I do remember that) and I respect that she wrote it in a way that if she couldn’t figure out how to say something and mean the same thing in Arabic that she could in Yiddish she just didn’t use it. But the book relies a little too much on conventional English structures for wording. I’ve read Jewish centered books before that weren’t structured so conventionally….white…..Like that’s the only way I can really explain it. Knowing the author is Jewish and Jewish people are both cultural and religious (or only cultural or only religious) and a distinct ethnic group (though I don’t know where the author falls into that) it still comes across as a very white person wrote it. Or someone who was very inundated with American culture (well what little culture America can lay claim to) and styles of writing. And it kind of disrupted the flow.

Logically you know when Chava is speaking to anyone in the Jewish community she’s speaking Yiddish and any time Ahmad is speaking to anyone in Little Syria he’s speaking Arabic (probably the Syrian dialect of Arabic but Arabic nonetheless) but the sentences are structured too well for immigrants. Especially the immigrants that can’t speak English. Unless you’ve actively been studying and learning the English language as a second language most immigrants (at least of what I’ve met and I’ve met quite a lot) don’t structure their sentences so flawlessly like Americans as in the book. The only one that actually truly felt like he was an immigrant not just random person author deemed an immigrant was the dude who Ahmad was making the jewelry for to sell when he was trying to sell it to Sophia and her auntie.

I can’t even remember half the character names.

The character of Matthew could have been completely erased and nothing of value would have been lost. In fact he and his mum could have been completely taken out. They’re that irrelevant.

The scenery was described beautifully kind of Tolkien and Hugo only not quite as wordy as either of them. Even then, I still wasn’t feeling the setting much.

There were some character inconsistencies as well. Like the Jinni (Ahmad) being afraid of iron yet consistently melting two iron bars to see Sophia and the Golem (Chava) who doesn’t feel cold but then does and during the winter after pacing for a while instantly gets cold when she stops? Like I get that she’s made of the Earth and has that tie in but it felt like it was contradictory

Part of the problem is ALL of the actual action minus two very minor conflicts happens in the last 100 pages or so. And I both like and dislike the character of Joseph Schimmel (or whatever his name was) and his “story”. But it does kind of feel rushed and just kind of off.

I kind of wish they had destroyed themselves rather than continuing to live on to cause further mayhem and havok and not have to account for their actions.

Overall I was ‘meh’ on this book. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to anyone but I wouldn’t actively discourage anyone either.

Buy it here:

Amazon|Barnes & Noble

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