Author: P.B. Kerr
368 Pages–Ages 8 and up
Published by: Orchard Books on October 1, 2004
Meet John and Philippa Gaunt, twelve-year-old twins who one day discover themselves to be descended from a long line of djinn. All of a sudden, they have the power to grant wishes, travel to extraordinary places (and not necessarily on public transportation), and make people and objects disappear. Luckily (and luck does have something to do with it), the twins are introduced to their eccentric djinn-Uncle Nimrod, who will teach them how to harness their newly found power. And not a moment too soon!
I really don’t have any initial thoughts on this book. I was browsing the used book shelf at a thrift store when this book caught my eye. The title didn’t really strike me as something that sounded interesting because it wasn’t very descriptive. In fact, when I first saw the title, I immediately thought of The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan. I looked inside the cover and on the back, but I couldn’t find a book summary which struck me as odd, but when I turned it over I saw the price: $2.49. For a hardcover book that wasn’t bad so I decided to give it a chance. I have no expectations for the book whatsoever though, as with all books I pick up, I am hoping that it will be a good one.
Since I started this book completely uneducated on anything in the story, I expected a lot more suspense when I was reading it. The story itself definitely doesn’t jump into the adventure; more like it slowly wades in. When I first picked up this book and saw the title I guessed that the stories would be like the Percy Jackson series in terms of story pace, but it’s not. Whereas Percy Jackson was quick paced, this book takes 8 chapters (100 pgs.) to reveal that the children are Djinn. The slow pace would have been acceptable if there was plenty of character or world building, but there really wasn’t. The first 100 pages were in the weird limbo where it was exciting enough that I didn’t completely abandon the book, but boring enough that I put the book down for frequent breaks. Once I had gotten about halfway thorough, I still wasn’t terribly curious to see what happens in the end. The 3rd quarter of the book sort of piqued my interest, but it wasn’t until the final ¼ of the book when I continuously read the book until I finished.
The two main characters (the twins) seemed to lack distinctive personalities and as such felt extremely bland to me. If you asked me to describe each of them I would say that Phillipa is the girl and John is the boy and that’s that. There isn’t much more to say. The other characteristics they have are standard in human beings, such as the fact that Phillipa gets scared in many situations [as do most other sensible people in those same situations]. In addition to lacking distinctive personalities, the decisions the twins make are uninspired and in some cases (at least to me) illogical. An example would be at the beginning of the book. During their oral surgery to get their wisdom teeth out, their uncle Nimrod shows up in their dreams and makes cryptic statements to them about visiting him in England. They haven’t seen their uncle in many years and strange things are happening to them. Their parents seem to know what is happening, but instead of outright asking their parents, who have done nothing that should make the twins distrustful of them, the twins choose to trust their uncle whose actions should make the twins distrustful of him. Defiance isn’t necessarily a bad trait (just look at Ariel from the Little Mermaid!), but when it’s illogical it’s hard to get behind a character. Throughout most of the book, it felt to me that the twins were simply plot devices that moved the story along. It seemed the twins and their companion’s actions were the results of a pre-determined story instead of the story being a product of the main characters actions, which again, isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I did feel as if it didn’t allow for much character development.
Nimrod and Mr. Rakshasas spend a large portion of the book explaining the rules of Djinn that at times make the story feel like an extended prologue. I get the feeling that the author is just setting up the world and the characters for the sequel (which I have looked up and confirmed—there are 6 other books in addition to this one). As such, I feel as if the next book(s) will be much quicker paced with more character development.
For most of the book I doubted that I would find the interest to pick up the sequel, but once I finished this book I had a change of heart and I’ve decided to pick up the next book and give it a try.
Overall, I would say that this book isn’t the next big thing, but I would still recommend giving it a try. I didn’t laugh out loud or get extremely attached to any of the characters but for a nice quiet read on a rainy day, this book wouldn’t be a bad choice.