#CBR9 Review #58

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

I went to my Leaderboard post on CBR to see what my last review was, and it was #57 (as of today, I’ve finished book 66). And I posted it on April 8. That’s like a whole month ago. It’s time to get to work.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I work part-time (one of THREE part-time jobs, because being an academic is exhausting, and you can never make enough money for the work that you end up doing) at an Islamic college in my nearby large city. I’m trying to read up on Muslim American literature in hopes that the day I get asked to teach the class, I can just hand them my reading list and say, “Consider it done.” Also, it’s good for me to expand my American literature breadth. I’ve read the Ms. Marvel comics that G. Willow Wilson has done (and loved volumes 1-4), and so decided to try one of her larger works of fiction.

It’s been sufficiently long enough that I don’t remember an entirely huge amount of the book, except that it has a complex plot. Alif is a hacker with clients from around the world, who pay him to keep their internet activities secure from surveillance. He also has engaged in a tryst with an aristocratic woman, until she breaks it off and announces her engagement to a nobleman, one who does not like Alif. Further, his own computer is hacked, and then the state comes running for him. Alif and his friends on the run with him discover the Thousand and One Days, a book about the jinn, and that’s when everything starts to hit the fan.

I liked this book fine, but I felt like it was reading me instead of the other way around. There is a LOT of plot, and while that’s not a bad thing, I do think some pacing and character development was sacrificed, as a result. What is great about this, however, is the techy angle that gets involved. I know very little about coding, but I can imagine savvy computer students enjoying this book immensely. I may have to put this on the list.

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