Let's face it, when I think of genies, I totally imagine the gigantic, blue Robin Williams-type "genie.... of.... the..... LAMMMMMP!" from ALADDIN.*
And so does Margo McKenna, the main character in Lindsay Ribar's THE ART OF WISHING. But then she meets Oliver, a non-blue, non-cartoon genie, and all of her genie stereotypes go out the window.
Well, not the "three wishes" rule. But most of the other ones.
Description from Goodreads:
Margo McKenna has a plan
for just about everything, from landing the lead in her high school
play to getting into a good college. So when she finds herself in
possession of a genie's ring and the chance to make three wishes, she
doesn't know what to do. Why should she put her life into someone else's
But Oliver is more than just a genie -- he's also a
sophomore at Margo's high school, and he's on the run from a murderer.
As he and Margo grow closer, she discovers that it will take more than
three wishes to save him.
A whole lot more.
THE ART OF WISHING is charming, romantic, and entertaining. Of course, there's the requisite drama (otherwise, there would be no plot, and who wants a snoozefest of happy people being happy?), but it's an enjoyable book that becomes serious when it needs to ... and since there's an uber-bad villain who's out to kill Oliver, the second half of the book is much darker than the first. Overall, though, it feels way more "contemporary-with-magic" than "paranormal romance."
My favorite element of THE ART OF WISHING was the main character, Margo. She's practical, self-confident, talented, and as secure as you can be in high school. But of course, she can get tongue-tied around her crush, because who doesn't? She's quite the planner/control freak, something I find particularly endearing, since I'm known to be a wee bit like that.
I also liked that Margo is an introvert, but in a very authentic way—not because she's socially awkward or doesn't connect with people, but because she prefers to surround herself with a smaller group of friends and is perfectly content with her outgoing best friend organizing their social lives.
Margo unwittingly becomes the master of Oliver, our non-blue genie love interest. Oliver is a nice foil to her because his entire life is about ceding control to others, never knowing who his next master will be or what wishes he'll have to fulfill. (And yes, this can get pretty grim.) But he embraces the unexpected, and a lot of his relationship with Margo develops around him teaching her to do the same.
And of course, we need to talk about the kissing! Basically, it was a lot of fun to watch Margo squirm every time she remembered that, thanks to Oliver's genie magic, he could read the "wants" from her thoughts ... and more and more of those desires centered on him. That's not at all embarrassing... Thought the book, I found the genie lore and magic intriguing, and we got a nice taste of Oliver's life as a genie, as well.
FYI: Lindsay Ribar totally sold me on THE ART OF WISHING. I met her at the Teen Author Festival after hearing her speak at the Born this way: Nature, nurture, and paranormalcy panel. Lindsay was funny and engaging, and from the way she described her novel, I knew I'd like it. I was right! It just goes to show (again) how attending bookish events can introduce you to novels you may not have ever read otherwise.
So if you're in the mood for adding a little magic to your life, definitely check out THE ART OF WISHING. It's available now!
Bonus note for musical theater geeks: Lindsay has a long history with musical theater, and a lot of THE ART OF WISHING is centered around Margo's role in Sweeney Todd, her high school's musical. It doesn't overwhelm the story (for those of you musical-averse), but it's a big part of Margo's life, and her passion for singing is woven throughout the novel.
*And because I couldn't help myself....
(skip to 1:03 for the epic introduction)