I just wasn't as enamored of this book as a lot of other people seem to be.
While I found Bartimaeus' narration more compelling than Nathan's chapters, I didn't really find myself "getting behind" either character. I don't really need characters to be "likeable" in the books I read, but I kept wondering exactly who or what I should be rooting for in this book, what should keep me reading. Was I supposed to want Nathan to succeed in his endeavors, even though he was kind of a jerk to Bartimaeus? I kept thinking the book was probably trying to be something of a "buddy comedy" where Bartimaeus and Nathan were supposed to start out loathing each other but would eventually come to be reluctant comrades, and that perhaps THAT was the outcome we were supposed to be pulling for. But that aspect of the story never really seemed to materialize, either.
So I'm sorry to say that my mind wandered a fair amount during this book. It took me a long time to figure out the era it was taking place in, and I eventually determined it's in a sort of alternate present-day since a laptop was mentioned at some point. And although the magic system and political set-up and hints of a coming revolution were all interesting, it also felt somewhat muddled to me. It did remind me of a children's version of "Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell," and it was well written, but I probably won't be reading further into the series.
There are so few "Aladdin" retellings out there, and so this wasn't quite the retelling I wanted it to be.
What I would like is a retelling that really delves into the potential historical and cultural setting of the original tale, sticking fairly close to the bones of the story because that hasn't really been done yet. I feel like after a few rich, close-to-original retellings have been published, that's when you can start doing funky things with a story, and "Aladdin" just isn't at that point yet. So, after getting over my disappointment that this retelling was not particularly true to the original, I tried to enjoy it on its own merits.
But my enjoyment ended up being somewhat uneven. It takes place in a vaguely Middle-Eastern fantasy world that borrows more from current YA tropes than from the original tale or the historical or cultural context in which it is based. There is a love triangle, of course, mostly focused on Aladdin and the genie, who is female. The love story didn't particularly grab me, which is the driving force in the book -- I was more interested in the princess and her struggles to come into her own amidst political turmoil and being constantly undermined by her power-hungry uncle and hounded by her cousin, who was also her betrothed. The tale also seemed to owe just as much to Disney's rendition of "Aladdin" as to the original tale, both in its description of Aladdin's appearance and personality and in its emphasis on the importance of freedom to a genie and the role a master's wish can play in granting that desire.
So while I know I shouldn't hold too much against this book for not being the "Aladdin" story I wanted it to be, I also feel like it probably wouldn't have particularly interested me if it were not billed as an "Aladdin" retelling -- and its relationship to the original tale was thin enough that it could have just been a story about a genie who falls for her human master.
Like a lot of people, I have a few books that, for various reasons, I haven't gotten to yet. These are ones that just flat scare me.
The first of the Gormenghast novels, I very much want to read this because it is a genre classic, heavy on character, rich in language, and deeply weird. I've dipped in a couple times and, frankly, ,the dense prose and deeply strange people scare me a bit. Still, on the bucket list.
Obviously, it's a stone classic. Also, it is a satire of the chivalric romances that has come to epitomize them. Irony! It scares me because nobody makes it past the windmills.
I loved Twentieth Century Ghosts and Heart--Shaped Box, liked Horns, and never finished NOS4A2. Those conflicted feelings, plus my general dislike for post-apocalyptia, equals a long stay on the TBR shelf.
So much frigging book. I started this around the time it came out and got something like 250 pages in. Solid, but slow, and some of the timey-wimey stuff was a bit off to me. Plus, bigger King is not always better King.
Combine dense language with mind-fuckery and I worry. Also, a lot of people say multiple readings are necessary to truly appreciate it. I'm sure it's excellent, but it seems like a lot of work.
I own all three volumes of this translation of the Calcutta 2. This is a hard one for me, because The Arabian Nights is a huge part of me as a reader (Hell, I've even read whole books on it's provenance and influence, namely Irwin's Arabian Nights Companion), influencing my love of nesting stories, but there are many nasty undertones. On top of that, we're talking about 2,400 pages. Yes, this is a more modern-reading translation than the classic Burton, but still...
I have a coffee-table edition of the entire Divine Comedy, illustrated by Dore. It's huge, it's gorgeous... It's epic poetry.
I will read all of these, but no promises as to when, as I am a coward.