Alif the Unseen

Alif the Unseen[Ebook] ➩ Alif the Unseen Author G. Willow Wilson – In an unnamed Middle Eastern security state a young Arab Indian hacker shields his clients—dissidents outlaws Islamists and other watched groups—from surveillance and tries to stay out of trouble In an unnamed Middle Eastern security state a young Arab Indian hacker shields his clients—dissidents outlaws Islamists and other watched groups—from surveillance and tries to stay out of trouble He goes by Alif—the first letter of the Arabic alphabet and a convenient handle to hide behind The aristocratic woman Alif loves has jilted him for a prince chosen by her parents and his computer has just been breached by the state’s electronic security force putting his clients and his own neck on the line Then it turns out his lover’s new fiancé is the Alif the PDF/EPUB ² Hand of God as they call the head of state security and his henchmen come after Alif driving him underground When Alif discovers The Thousand and One Days the secret book of the jinn which both he and the Hand suspect may unleash a new level of information technology the stakes are raised and Alif must struggle for life or death aided by forces seen and unseen. Adult urban fantasycyberpunk I picked this up because I loved the Ms Marvel comics written by G Willow Wilson and while this is very very different stuff it was a fabulous read Somehow I went into this thinking it was a middle grade or young adult novel It's not The content is uite dark and adult It's the story of a twenty something hacker living in an Arabic city state simply called The City Alif is secretly in love with the daughter of a high ranking family and SPOILER when she becomes engaged to a government official an official who is in charge of finding hackers like Alif things become very complicated END SPOILER That in itself would be an intriguing story but Wilson also blends in the world of the fire spirit jinn mixing computer magic with ancient magic Alif finds himself in possession of an ancient book that may be the secret to reprogramming the entire world His enemies both human and jinn will do anything to obtain it It's rare to find a novel set in the Middle East that is both accessible to a Western audience and sympathetically well informed The City is beautifully evoked The descriptions of life in a dictatorial society are grimly and unflinchingly portrayed You see both the beauty of Islamic society and folklore and the desperate fearful and claustrophobic conditions in which the citizens of The City live If you're looking for an adventure unlike anything you've probably read give this a try Dear People who Read BooksPlease read this bookNo really I mean it Okay fine I will tell you why you need to read this The characters in this novel while not being teenagers are young adults and therefore this novel meets the criteria set by me to be called Young Adult Okay let me begin again Properly this timeAlif the Unseen is set in a city in Saudi Arabia and it is perhaps one of the few books I have read that manage to write in a setting like Saudi Arabia without preaching about or demonizing Islam The setting is one of the reasons that I really wanted to read this novel – that and the synopsis The synopsis sounds bloody bleeding amazing And I can tell you on good authority that the synopsis does not lead you astray I want to write a panegyric for this novel but I will satisfy myself with a garbled review Sorry about thatIt will perhaps take a few pages to get used to the setting especially if you read books that are almost exclusively set in North America There is a definite shift in dynamics there is a sense of the exotic a “foreign ness” about the whole setting that is immediately fascinating Alif is a very compelling character who draws you into his life into his thoughts politics love and family You can relate to him and empathize with him and that’s a big deal to me because usually male protagonists are not a favourite of mine aswell I just can’t seem to get into their heads the same way I can with a female MC What is also very interesting to me is how the love interest in this novel spends the majority of the novel veiled Yet she does not become a lesser character or anything like that In fact she serves as a brilliant foil to Alif – as though the veil gives her the distance that is not visible to Alif – his passion is tempered by her cool logic and vice versa She is one of the stronger and intelligent characters in the novel All the characters in Alif the Unseen are given personalities that are larger than the book they live in The writing is beautiful and the narrative smoothOne of my favourite characters is Vikram the Vampire who is actually a DjinnJinnIfrit His manner of speaking is amusing and his otherworldliness is excellently portrayed At the same time his sincerity in wanting to help Alif gives him a touch of human that makes him utterly irresistibleThe novel presents a compelling mixture of digital gadgetry and supernatural themes It does not at all shy away from narrating the imbalance between the rich and the poor the cultural discrimination the hierarchies The computer jargon programmer code speak reveals the depth of research Wilson must have done for the novel At the same time her level of familiarity with Islamic myths cultures is apparent with the ease with which she weaves it into her grand narrative Wilson’s juxtaposition of the mundane with the supernatural is excellently written The novel nests the narrative in current events showing an alternative reason or accurately a hidden perspective that explains the events that took place in the Arab SpringAlif the Unseen is a novel that needs to be read widely It shows people a different side to Islam and Muslims It shows people a culture rich with stories and traditions that are not entirely and wholly about bloodshed and killing It shows real people with real problems and not made up terrorists who look for excuses to bomb countries and buildings Alif the Unseen is a brilliant accomplishment both on the part of the writing and on the part of the storytelling I recommend it strongly Just when I think that young adult fantasy has nothing new to show me this one comes along to change my mind Granted this is being marketed as an adult novel but I would disagree with that classification If anything this is of a hybrid The main character is an early twenties hackeractivist “hacktivist” who’s living at home and dealing with his over attentive mom the annoyingly devout girl next door first heartbreak and an all powerful instrument of the state who wants nothing than to track him down throw him in a dank cell and starve him to death You know – normal stuff Things get even complicated when a dangerously powerful book of fairy tales finds its way into his hands and he has to seek refuge in the realm of the unseenI’ve honestly never read anything like this before It is a Middle East inspired fantasy novel about hackers djinns metaphor faith and political uprising And for a fantasy novel it is firmly rooted in reality than most Published in the wake of The Arab Spring this novel feels incredibly relevant And what’s – it feels necessary This is the kind of book that I think the world needs right now Here is a recent uote from author G Willow Wilson from an interview with Shelf Awareness“ I spent a long time being frustrated that there wasn't much awareness or interest in Arab youth culture here in the US People wanted to hear about fundamentalism and veiling and terrorism but not about what the next generation was thinking or doing”Honestly I’m guilty of this While I saw occasional news coverage of the riots and revolutions I was largely ignorant of what was going on And I have to admit that I have little to no knowledge of Islam or the uran However one of the many reasons that I love to read is to experience new places and new cultures On that score this book is utterly fascinating And much to her credit G Willow Wilson never oversimplifies or whitewashes the culture and religious practices and never slows down to explain anything to a hypothetical Western audience It’s occasionally confusing but she really earned my respect by doing it that way I don’t need to have every little thing explained to me – it’s so much immersive if I’m left to figure it out on my own G Willow Wilson also really succeeds in rendering this world – an unnamed state somewhere in the Middle East – with the perfect balance of honesty and lack of pity She doesn’t shy away from the hard truths here censorship sexism racism government brutality; but neither does she color them with any kind of Western superiority These things exist but they are simple facts of life They are horrifying and yet these characters deal with them every day They are acknowledged in the way we might acknowledge our healthcare system or the freuently challenged and disappearing reproductive rights of our women both of which I am sure freuently cause us to be pitied They are never traded upon for melodrama And on top of all of that this is a beautifully written fantasy story It is a fun fast paced adventure that moves in between worlds including the virtual world of technology the world of fairy tales and an unseen realm populated by djinn effrits and madrins The characters are in turns hilarious heartbreaking and thought provokingHowever there are a few places where the fast paced feeling of this book starts to lag Several scenes where the characters take time out from the story to have philosophical discussions about religion or the state of the world are very interesting from an educational standpoint but do nothing to move the story forward Additionally the characters take such defined roles during these discussions the convert the devout follower the religious leader the devil’s advocate that they stop feeling like characters and start feeling like mouthpieces for various issues However the ending of this book is just complete perfection and I must say that it really tied together a lot of these discussion points from the lagging places Even though the story lagged I was still riveted by the “new to me” feeling of the topics discussed And her writing is just so beautiful; it's hard to lose too much patience Here is one of my favorite passages I have had much experience with the unclean and uncivilized in the recent past Shall I tell you what I discovered? I am not the state of my feet I am not the dirt on my hands or the hygiene of my private parts If I were these things I would not have been at liberty to pray at any time since my arrest But I did pray because I am not these things In the end I am not even myself I am a string of bones speaking the word of GodOverall I highly recommend this to young adult and adult readers alike especially to those who are tired of reading the “same old same old” in fantasyPerfect Musical PairingOmar Offendum #Jan25 Egypt feat The Narcicyst Freeway Ayah and Amir SulaimanDid you know that there was a wave of revolutionary rap music that came out of the Middle East after the Arab Spring? Well neither did Iuntil I went looking for a musical pairing for this book I love that these musical pairings sometimes take me off into musical corners of the world that I might otherwise never visit This song and its video is very powerful and starts with a nod to Gil Scott Heron I heard them say the revolution won't be televised Al Jazeera proved them wrong which I think perfectly captures the spirit of this book Most of the artists here are actually Arab American or Canadian but I think that really fits with this book too it's the fire of this revolution as echoed by a very sympathetic Western voiceAlso seen on The Readventurer The end of the year and I decided to finish with a bang picking the most promising books lingering on my ToBeRead list It’s been one interesting read after another and if they weren’t all eually amazing most have been thought provoking and interesting Alif came to my attention as a genre bender an urban fantasy set in the Middle East and about a computer hacker on the run Great characterization trim plotting an unusual urban setting with clever fantastical elements means it was one of the successes The tale starts with a short prologue of a man transcribing the stories of a captive jinn but it truly begins with Alif sitting on his roof and moping over the lack of contact from his secret girlfriend Alif is the screen name of an eual opportunity computer hacker serving clients large and small in an unnamed Middle Eastern city Ever since the Egyptian revolution the computer environment has become perilous with censors and state agents seeking to track dissidents Alif does his part against the machine running internet access and digital concealment for “bloggers pornographers Islamists and activists from Palestine to Pakistan” He and his hacker friends bemoan the lack of understanding from Western hackers of what hardship is really likeFor that uote and a few others please find the rest of the review at regret having to post links but while I want to support Wilson's work I no longer feel GR can be trusted to not delete reviews at their whim Note please that the Terms of Service were officially last updated in 2010 despite making changes in guidelines and posting only in the Goodreads Feedback Group VAGUELY SPOILERISH though nothing majorIn the introduction to his magnificent book The Great Chain of Being A Study of the History of an Idea Arthur Lovejoy turns a memorable phrase when he describes those who thrill to the metaphysical pathos of obscurity This book I fear is subject to that particular weakness There's lots of stuff about storiescomputer codemetaphormultiple interpretationsmultiple realities that just doesn't make any sense at least not to this heathen When Alif realizes that the Djinn authored book Alf Yeom can provide a blue print for an entirely new way of coding and simply sits down with his little netbook and spontaneously writes code based not on 1s and 0s but on metaphor creating something transcendent and nearly divine it's not just implausible It's nonsensicalOne could forgive this in a book with a great story or with great characters but the book was I thought just so so in these respects The transformation of Alif himself seemed unconvincing; his realization that he loved Dina too uick; and the character of the convert never given a name for some reason seemed entirely superfluous And the writing was while serviceable nothing special Multiple uses of the word obscene to describe things that are evil is something that should be avoided absolutely And gave him a look that went straight to his groin is kind of embarrassingI realize I'm in a minority in my response to this book Most people seem to love it DnfedI read a chapter and a page of this and I drew the line when this guy was keeping the stained bed sheet of his first time as some sort of pride possession Alif the Unseen is such a uniue book It's a computer science heavy fantasy novel set in the modern Middle East There is coding firewalls cloud servers and genies all in the same book Doesn't that sound amazing? This book is fantasy blended with real science something that I've never seen before It's a big risk that pays offVery rarely to I go uite as highlighter happy as this book made me It was smart clever funny and thought provoking How dense and literal it is I thought it had a much sophisticated brain Your mother's dense Alif said wearilyMy mother was an errant crest of sea foam But that's neither here nor thereThis book just goes It doesn't stop to explain everything I appreciated the respect it showed it's reader Admittedly I don't know a lot about Middle Eastern folklore or legends Anything I need to know I can research The book doesn't info dump yet I had no problem following the storyThis book talks about how sometimes religious people pick and choose what to believe In this instance it's talking about the uaran and how people tend to ignore the references to jinn genies even though it's throughout the text However I think it's something interesting that applies beyond just one faith group Superstation is thriving Pedantry is thriving Sectarianism is thriving Belief is dying out To most of your people the jinn are paranoid fantasies who run around causing epilepsy and mental illness Find me someone to whom the hidden folk are simply real as described in the Books You'll be searching a long time Wonder and awe have gone out of your religions For me the highlight of the book was Dina Alif's neighbor she's tremendously stubborn intelligent and very pious She decided to veil her face against the wishes of her family and everyone who knew her Normally it would be easy to write off such a character as an oppressed woman But Dina is too awesome for that She's one of the bravest and most intelligent characters always having foresight when everyone else just runs around panicking She's a complex character a mixture of faith practicality and intelligence Maybe you should stay here until this has blown over he said It's going to be dangerousI know That's why I wore sneakers DinaI want books that dare to be different I'm not saying this book is perfect At times it's a little slow the prologue is especially weak and it talks about urinating a lot But sometimes that doesn't matter What matters is that it tells a story that completely surprises you and that you can stop reading Well this is a wonderful book I love loved it It's about Alif a hacker in the Middle East who has an ill fated romance with a woman is stalked by a mysterious government hacker called The Hand and interacts with real Djinn who actually exist invisible among us It's totally fascinating A really enjoyable read that combines politics and tech and magic in a wonderful way Recommended for people who like Neal Stephenson or Da Vinci Code just a fantastic thriller with magical overtones and interesting politics A clever mashup of eual parts efreet fantasy and golden hackers in a Big Brother Muslim state seems like a winner at first glance to me I love everything about the first two and the addition of throwing it into a Muslim culture MAY or may not have been a winning move Sometimes it can come off strange or cheesy or uncomfortableFortunately Wilson's strong writing and respectful nature carried a number of complex and interesting characters into a great tale with romantic elements stronger hackereze and a massive David and Goliath take down that rove right into the Unseen world of the spirits of air and fireHow does this work?Well as a matter of fact Combining the mystical permutations of Allah with uantum computing is as natural as breathing Has anyone seen Pi? ;So this book mashed all my buttons I didn't even care it was YA I'm a fan My friend and I were discussing the problem of finding books featuring non white protagonists written by non North American descended authors We noted that often than not in our limited scope we’d find non white protagonists written by White authors or white protagonists who find themselves in non white environments written by white authors Generally speaking the result is hit or miss when it comes to a respectful representation of a culture that one is not raised inI was impressed by her portrayal of the Middle Eastern culture from dialogue to religions to terminology to class and because this is a culture I have never gotten to read about before in a starring role She also did an effective job of portraying the hacker culture within that cultural environment The writing and dialogue presented aspects of the hacker culture in ways that I could easily understand without things being spelled out completely Meaning could be inferred without much effort Of course I am not familiar with the Middle Eastern or hacker cultures so I am assuming the portrayal did them all justice The book moved smoothly through the main character’s introduction – his risué profession his forbidden love and the girl next door – and then moved just as smoothly from the seen into the unseen namely the world of the jinn that exists amidst our own if only we are willing to believe This transition is where my only real disappointment in both the book and the author arrives taking shape as the character called “the convert” an American woman who has converted to Muslim and for some reason is the only person Vikram the jinn Alif’s future now depends on decides can identify the source of the mysterious book Alif has been given In an interview Wilson claims that the convert is “not really” herself but “the place she ends up in the book is where I have ended up” Unfortunately the convert and her sentiments come across for me like a raging opinion piece where Wilson denounces Western culture for being so blind I found it particularly disturbing that despite it being made clear that Alif enjoys reading fantasy novels from Western culture it is stated in the book that Americans specifically can’t grasp the unseen world of the jinn The convert also denounces non Western culture for denying the Westerners who truly try to understand The convert proclaims that non Westerners are able to move freely between cultures citing Kazuo Ishiguro author of Remains of the Day as an example of a person from non Western culture writing about life in Britain A very poor example considering Ishigoro was raised British The convert laments that no Westerner has successfully written an epic tale that works in the other direction and I conseuently got the distinct feeling that Wilson hoped to become that person who succeeded I had hoped the convert was just an interlude that allowed Wilson to express her feelings but annoyingly the character continued on with the main group providing little purpose Not even in the end when her beatific pregnancy was supposed to have commanded attention I read the acknowledgements which referred to Wilson’s own pregnancy during the writing of the book and have concluded that Wilson’s claim that the convert isn’t really herself is slightly delusionalAside from this I enjoyed the book I enjoyed the use of and discussions about language and how mutable it is I appreciated that the step into the fantastical was gradual and that the characters each displayed interesting and varying reactions to the discovery of the unseen world I liked the religious comparisons and the uestioning of beliefs but respected that the characters that did have their own religious beliefs remained true to those beliefs while still being able to accept the unseen I enjoyed that the main character was an annoying whiny creature who did not suddenly find a backbone and become a respectable hero And in a culture that Westerners believe poorly treats its women the character of Dina serves as an interesting insight

Alif the Unseen PDF ç Alif the  PDF/EPUB ²
  • Paperback
  • 448 pages
  • Alif the Unseen
  • G. Willow Wilson
  • English
  • 05 March 2014
  • 9780802121226