Friday, October 13, 2017

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury Audiobook Review

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
Narrated by: Jessica Campbell
Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin Random House
Pub. Date: February 23, 2016
She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world. . . .

When Aladdin discovers Zahra's jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn't seen in hundreds of years—a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra's very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes. 

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of the Aladdin story from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.

This story had everything going for it—a new twist on a classic tale, a female jinni, a badass princess, and an awesome crew of female assassins at her side... and yet, I didn't love it. I liked it enough to keep listening to it, and I was curious enough to want to know how it would end, but there was no spunk, no emotion, and no life coming off the pages

Actually even now as I'm writing this review and thinking more about this book, I'm finding more things that I didn't like about it, so here goes...

I think the main thing about this book that bothered me is that there was very little nuance to the story. I haven't read the original tale of Aladdin, but this was very much like the Disney adaptation in plot—but without the emotion, hilarity, and spunk. There's Aladdin, the orphan thief who is commissioned to find the lamp, there's a Jafar character who is nowhere near as interesting as the Disney version, and there is a Jasmine character—Caspida. She was my favorite, because not only is she a princess, but she is also the rebel leader of her people! How I wish this story was told from her POV instead, but alas . . .

Also, it would have just been better if Aladdin simply wasn't in this book at all. I loved Zahra, the jinni, and Caspida's relationship, and the story could have been better with just the two of them. Aladdin was just . . . there. He didn't do anything interesting, he was totally one-note, and honestly, the plot wouldn't have suffered at all without his presence. 

I did enjoy all the details about the jin and the history of all the queens. It was actually so intriguing that it had me wanting to know more about the dead characters than the living ones. So overall, The Forbidden Wish was a miss for me, but hopefully my next read will be better. If any of you know a better Aladdin retelling, I'm all ears!

Jessica Campbell is an okay narrator. She is also the narrator of Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz—an audiobook that I ultimately DNFed. My main complaint isn't her voice or her ability to sound like the characters, but simply the utter inability to convey emotions. Everything she says just sounds and feels forced. I don't necessarily dislike her enough to refuse to listen to another audiobook from her like I have with Will Patton, the narrator of The Raven Cycle by Maggie Steifvater, but seeing her name listed as a narrator wouldn't make me particularly thrilled either.

1) There were a lot of strong, female characters. Behind every despicable man, there was a woman planning his downfall. Also, there were no girls looking down on each other or tearing one another down, so that was nice.

2) The history of all the great queens in this story was really great. I would love to see a bind up of the stories of each of the queens mentioned.

3) I really love Caspida. She has so much heart and strength, so I hope she gets her own novel someday.

1) I did not feel emotionally attached to this book at all. Yes, I wanted to know what would happen but I didn't care about the characters. I didn't worry about their well-being, and there were even several times I caught myself rolling my eyes.

2) Aladdin, oh how much I dislike thou . . . Honestly, the girls in this book would be so much better off without him. I assume he must have been extremely good looking because I can't think of any other reason for people to be interested in him. 

3) The plot was just so convenient. Something terrible is happening? That's okay, the right distraction you need showed up, just in the nick of time! Everyone is about to die? That's alright, don't sweat it! This new explanation as to why everything will be okay has appeared out of nowhere! Sigh...

And guys, I loooooove happy endings—believe me. I would prefer that all of my favorite books, movies, and TV shows would just end happily. BUT I do want to feel the struggle, I want to feel like a happy ending was earned. That is what makes a happy ending satisfying for me. 

4) The writing—particularly the descriptions of things—were very opulent and beautiful, but it was also a little distracting. Especially during action scenes that involved magic, there were sooooo many unneeded details that it took away from the exhilarating moments

5) The men in this story were very one-dimensional. They were all kind of douchey, and/or the typical "women are too emotional to think for themselves and need a strong man behind them" guys.

6) The romance was cheesy and had little development. It's not like I hated either one of them together, but I just didn't swoon over their relationship. Their romantic scenes made me cringe at how forced and aloof their feelings felt.

If you're not free to love, you're not free at all.


  1. I'm sad to hear you didn't enjoy "The Forbidden Wish", Brittany. It is one of my favourite retellings - it does share many resemblances with the original tale. As you pointed out, the women were portrayed as strong and independent and I loved it. I'm so tired of reading books where girls/women are portrayed as jealous beings that can't be friends with other females.

    Happy readings!
    Tânia @MyLovelySecret

  2. Ah, I'm sad to hear you didn't love this one! I haven't read it yet, but it was one of the next books on my TBR. But everything you pointed out would probably frustrate me as well. Well, we can try and see :)

  3. Sorry you didn't enjoy this one :( I'm so disappointed! I have had this on my TBR pile for forever and a half and was thoroughly charmed by the premise as well as the cover. Based on your thoughts though, I'm not entirely sure this book would be worth it for me personally--I'm reading all the things that frustrate you and I swear, I'm getting second hand frustration in return because it just seems... well. You know.

  4. Aw too bad! I did enjoy this book and I love the author so much. But I'm glad you loved Caspida at least. :D

  5. I am sorry this was a miss for you. Hope your next read will be better.

  6. It's so disappointing when a book doesn't wow you the way that you hoped it would. I've not read this one before, although I remember seeing some reviews for it last year. I hope that your next read is more enjoyable. :)

  7. Aw sorry to hear this one didn't work out. I've read a few of her books but not this one. Bummer that Aladdin wasn't more interesting!

  8. Awww I loved this book! Well, I enjoyed it because of the female characters, but you are definitely right about the romantic department and Aladdin, I was honestly never interested in him. The real star for me was Zahra who I adore so much. ♥
    Still, I hope your next read turns out to be better! :D

  9. Sorry to hear you didn't like it. I've read a couple other books by this author that I enjoyed, and still hope to get to this one. But I know what you mean about how such vivid descriptions can often distract you from a story. It's one reason I can rarely listen to fantasy stories on audiobooks, because my mind drifts away during those descriptions. Great review, though!

  10. Aw, boo, I am sorry you didn't love this one. I liked it, but didn't love it- mostly for reasons that you mentioned. The emotional connection wasn't there, and some things did resolve too easily. I did enjoy the characters though, and the tough women thing. And I thought the writing was really pretty. But yeah, it could have been stronger for sure. Great review!