Saturday, June 30, 2012

alif the unseen by g. willow wilson

At last! A superbly written, craftily woven, incredibly wonderful fantasy-adventure-techno tale that I can recommend to fans of Ready Player One (which sadly left me in the lurch back around December: I had no hope of finding anything quite like it and begrudgingly moved on to other genres), brought to you by award-winning graphic novelist G. Willow Wilson. Alif (his handle - the first letter in the Arabic alphabet) is a young hacker living in an unnamed Middle Eastern country. He spends most of his time providing his clients with secure connections and invisible digital footprints with enviable skill, diligently protecting them from state surveillance, run by the terrifying head of state, or, The Hand of God, as Alif and his gweek friends have nicknamed him. Alif is also in love with Intisar, a high-born girl who is out of his reach in the real world due to his mixed Indian-Arab background. The two sign a "stock marriage contract," but when Intisar becomes engaged to someone more suitable, Alif quickly realizes he has lost her. He sets out to virtually erase himself from her world, but can't let her go, and writes a mind-blowing intricate program that tracks her keystrokes. When Alif's laptop and tracking program are hacked by none other than The Hand of God himself, Alif runs for his life, accompanied by Dina (the perfect girl-next-door in a veil) and a jinn named Vikram the Vampire. What follows is an unforgettable page-turning tale that goes places you've never imagined. ATU adeptly throws technology, magical realism, a dash of Harry Potter, and today's Middle Eastern politics into a blender, creating a sublime and singular treat. Give it to fans of Ready Player One, Harry Potter, and Snowcrash. Click here for the full NY Times review. Grade 9+