Review: Alif the Unseen

Alif the Unseen
Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Book #62 for 2016
Read Harder Challenge Task: Read a book that is set in the Middle East.
#AWSFF Bingo Square: World Fantasy Award for Best Novel (2013)

I plan to read this author’s Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal for a 2017 reading challenge, so I was really hoping to love this book. I didn’t hate it, but I found it disappointing in a number of ways.

Alif (view spoiler)is kind of an annoying, sexist dork for almost the entire book. I kept having to remind myself that he wasn’t 14. And I’m not convinced that his little spiritual journey resulted in all that much growth. If you ask me, he and whatsherface were a perfect match(view spoiler).

The convert was such a lame character. (view spoiler) And she’s so clearly based on Wilson herself, which is just sad. What makes it so much more awful was the author interview where Wilson claimed that this character is full of meaning.

Whenever Alif was hacking away, especially where he went into a trance and started melting computers, I felt like I was trapped in a bad ’80s movie. I’ve passed this book along to my computer geek husband, and maybe he’ll tell me I’m wrong, but wow, this seemed totally cheesy.

NewQuarter01: WTF? I think this is one of the most inconsistently written characters I’ve ever encountered. Heck, most unreliable narrators are more stable than this guy. (view spoiler)

The whole linguistic/literary treasure hunt was what hooked me in the beginning, but(view spoiler). And the story gets bogged down in all this religious bullshit, and I’m kinda done with all these dogmatic men running this world, especially when they try to claim they’re acting on God’s behalf. Though I will admit that vampires and genies make for more entertaining info-dumps than what Neal Stephenson did in Snow Crash.

So yeah, Vikram was pretty dang cool. And I enjoyed some of the examination of the dynamics of revolution, which seems to be an increasingly important thing to understand in this world. So I’m kinda leaning towards 3 stars. But y’know what? I’m going with 2 stars. Because Fuck the Patriarchy.

View all my reviews


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