Review of As You Wish
Viola’s life took a nosedive when her boyfriend (and best friend) Lawrence broke up with her seven months ago. Though Viola can’t blame Lawrence for being gay, she still wishes that someone would love her the way she thought Lawrence did. She wishes so hard for this that she accidentally summons a young genie, whom she calls Jinn. Jinn is not happy to have been pulled from his perfect world to grant three wishes to a an indecisive high school girl. Viola is too terrified of the repercussions of making wishes, forcing Jinn to live in the human world he detests for longer than he’s ever had. But the longer he stays in Viola’s world, the more he understands her world, and most importantly, her. Viola, too, becomes more attached to Jinn, and eventually she becomes reluctant to ever use her wishes, because once she voices number three, Jinn will disappear forever.
As You Wish is Jackson Pearce’s first novel, but she handles the dual-character storytelling with skill. Viola and Jinn alternate chapters, and it’s great to watch them progress through the story together. Jinn grows believably from a snide, bored genie to a being that feels human emotions to the point where he almost longs to be human. Viola possesses a large number of insecurities, but somehow never comes across as whiny. Her hurt at Lawrence suddenly coming out to her is believable (besides the fact that everyone else seemed to know, he decided to tell Viola as she was gearing up to sleep with him), but the reader doesn’t fault her for staying friends with him.
Pearce has a great way of raising the stakes throughout the book. Besides Viola being afraid to wish, first because of the repercussions and then because she likes Jinn, Pearce adds in that most of the time, when humans don’t wish, they get a “press”- that is, one of the higher-ups in the jinn world makes something happen in the human’s life that will force them to wish, usually something traumatic. Usually Jinn is eager for a press, but when he starts to reciprocate Viola’s feelings, he does everything he can to prevent it. Unfortunately, he can’t, and the worry about how the higher-ups will press Viola kind of eats away at you for a few chapters.
The best part of the book are the relationships: Viola’s determined dedication to Lawrence, his slightly pitying (platonic) love for her, and Jinn’s growing affection for Viola as he recognizes the earnest longings within her. The only relationship I disliked was that between Viola and her parents. Pearce falls into the stereotypical YA trap of giving Viola conveniently absent parents, and it’s actually worse that she comments on it. Viola’s parents don’t seem to care about their daughter at all.
As You Wish isn’t good for a first novel, it’s just good. It’s unfortunately hard to find, but find it you should!