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Guest: Alif the Unseen

Courtesy of Bibliotechnicienne | | Originally posted 8.18.2012

Part sci-fi, part fantasy, part computery, Alif the Unseen takes place in an unnamed Middle Eastern country. The main character is Alif (his online name, not his given name) a young man who lives his life online, providing digital protection to rebels, dissidents and hackers alike. He’s not picky about his clients.

Scorned by the woman he loves, he reacts…poorly. In no way can this be viewed as an overreaction (read: he overreacts big time) he creates a computer program that will detect his former lady loves presence online and when it does, it will erase all traces of him, making him invisible and uncontactable. I know that’s not a word, but wait, there’s more craziness ahead.

Said computer program causes a few…problems in the real world. This is an understatement. An ancient book is thrown into the mix, and suddenly Alif finds himself on the run from the State with his neighbour Dina in tow, seeking the protection of a jinn and the spiritual world. For some reason in North America, we stick a D in front of djinn. This is mentioned in the story, but not explained.

At this point, think Aladdin without Robin Williams. Also nix the singing.

I started reading this as a foil for Emma. I found the first bit a bit slow, but I really got into it about halfway through. I also couldn’t decide right away whether it was YA or not. Which isn’t a criticism, it just had that feel. I think it was when the book got into *ahem* adult situations that I decided that it’s not.

There’s a romantic subplot, but it’s different from your typical one. There are a lot of longing glances and coveting of ankle glimpses [which seems to contradict the above paragraph, but they're both right] I guess it’s not that much different than Emma after all.

Some books I find hard to recap with the right balance of telling enough to get someone interested, but not telling too much, and divulging the whole book. This is one of them. I already feel like I’ve said too much. But trust me, there’s a whole pile of stuff I haven’t touched on.

It’s a bit of a departure from my typical reads, but it’s a good one. I say "Read Me!"

Book 30 for fiftyfiftyme.


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