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A Reader of Fictions: Review: The Art of Wishing

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Friday, November 23, 2012

Review: The Art of Wishing

The Art of Wishing
The Art of Wishing, Book 1

Author: Lindsay Ribar
Pages: 314
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 21, 2013
Source: Borrowed from Steph of Cuddlebuggery

Description from Goodreads:
He can grant her wishes, but only she can save his life.

Margo McKenna has a plan of attack for everything, from landing the lead in her high school musical to dealing with her increasingly absent parents. But when she finds herself in possession of a genie's ring and the opportunity to make three wishes, she doesn't know what to do. Especially since Oliver--not blue-skinned, not bottle-dwelling, but a genie nonetheless--can see more than what she's willing to show him. With one peek into her mind, he can see the wishes that even Margo herself doesn't know she wants.

But Oliver comes with more than just mind-reading abilities, a flair for magic, and the prettiest eyes Margo's ever seen. Someone from his past is hunting him--someone bent on killing him, along with all the other genies in the world, for the sake of honor. And as Margo soon discovers, it will take more than three wishes to save him.

A whole lot more.


First Sentence: "The plan was this: I'd get up on that stage, blow them away with the best damn audition they'd ever seen, and walk out knowing the part I wanted was mine."

Review:
As often happens, I really didn't have any expectations going into this book. Based on the cover, it looks like a sweet contemporary with a little magic and music. That seems awesome enough to give the book a chance, so when Steph offered to loan me her ARC, I went for it. Ladies and gentlemen, I made a very good choice. The Art of Wishing gave me so much joy.

At the beginning, we meet Margo as she auditions for the school musical, Sweeney Todd, which is freaking awesome by the way. She dreams of being Mrs. Lovett, and she knows she has the talent for it. This play and part have always been amongst her favorites, and, finally, she's a senior and deserving of a starring role. Imagine her frustrated surprise when some sophomore gets cast as Mrs. Lovett instead, leaving her to play Toby.

Margo does not take this well, but who would, really? Vicky Willoughbee, part-stealer, isn't even any good, though everyone else sure seems to think that she is the next coming of  Patti LuPone. Margo has this wonderfully bratty sense of entitlement that totally fits with how I know I felt as a teen. I just deserved certain things and was not well-pleased when I didn't get them. Though Margo throws herself into her own part, and does masterfully, everyone can still sense her displeasure, much as she tries to hide it. Oh, theater drama, how I love reading about you.

I just loved Margo. She has such wonderfully snarky narration, at least in her head. Like me and Julia from Meant to Be, she doesn't necessarily do well with the quips in pressure situations, such as when her crush speaks to her. I especially loved that when Simon, a hot, Asian, theatrical bit of deliciousness that she was crushing on, talked to her, her nervousness came out as disinterest rather than awkward flirting. That's not something I've really seen happen in a book before, but that is totally how I roll.

Anyway, the tenacious Margo certainly will not just give up. She finds out what's going on, namely that Vicky got a wish from Oliver, heretofore a largely ignored annoyance, only averagely cute, taking an abundance of photos for the yearbook. Wait, what? Oh yeah, turns out Oliver is a genie. We're all surprised to find they're not blue with the vocal stylings of Robin Williams.

Honestly, I wasn't sure about the whole genie thing initially, but Ribar did an amazing job of coming up with her own lore and really convincing me. I really don't have a single criticism about this part, and I really appreciated that, for the most part, it didn't feel heavily paranormal, but more like a contemporary novel in a world with a little more magic. Also, I love that the cover completely conveys this book, though, let me warn you, the book is not as fluffy as the cover suggests. There are a few disturbing scenes.

Most of the characters do take a back seat characterization-wise, because they're just not in the book much. Margo, Oliver, and to a lesser degree, Margo's best friend Naomi, are well-developed though. I want to talk about Naomi just a little bit. Naomi, as happens in a lot of YA novels, is the braver, more popular friend. Unlike what usually is the case though, Margo does not begrudge her for that or envy Naomi for her popularity in the slightest. She likes taking the backseat and not having as many friends. She's not an especially social person and she has no problem with that about herself. An introvert who acts like an introvert! Yay! Also, even better, Naomi, unlike some of the shinier friends, always has Margo's best interests at heart. Though I don't get to see as much of Naomi as I would have liked, I got the sense that they had a true friendship.

As with the best friend, with Oliver Ribar did a good job consciously avoiding some YA tropes. First off, I loved that initially, she hardly noticed him and that he wasn't the kind of guy that attracted tons of female attention. He is also younger than she is (at least right now), which I haven't seen happen much. Once they really meet, though, they develop this delightful banter, which just made my heart happy. They established a real connection, which made their instalove, which, yes, sadly does appear, less annoying than it otherwise might have been. However, what I really love their relationship is that Margo made pretty much all of the first moves and was sort of leading the relationship, that she definitely was bothered by some things (a logical reaction) rather than just accepting everything like it was easy, and that she never got jealous that Oliver had a past. Margo avoided so many of the heroine pitfalls and I wanted to fistbump Lindsay Ribar every time.

Unfortunately, I do feel that a whole lot of plot threads got dropped along the way. As I mentioned, I loved that the book was set around a production of the high school musical, so I really wish that the actual performance had been included. The same goes for Naomi. Margo and Naomi were having a fight, and that never got resolved. Vicky never gets any sort of resolution either. I just feel like these things could all have been tied up a bit better, though it would be tricky with the ending as is. Speaking of which, I'm not a huge fan with the direction the book went in; I'd had a couple different theories for how the book might conclude, and, sadly, I liked them better than how Ribar did choose to close the novel.

While The Art of Wishing may not be quite a perfect book, I want everyone to know that if I only factored how much I enjoyed the book into my rating, then it would be a 5, no question. As  it is, I will still be telling everybody that they should read this book, since it is adorable and a half, with a bonus of pop culture references, including The Princess Bride. I know I'll need to be getting my own copy when it comes out in March.

UPDATE 11/28: I have since learned that The Art of Wishing is the first in a series, so that does kind of have an effect on whether plot threads were dropped. All I can say definitively is that perhaps I'm unsure whether I entirely approve of where book two might be headed and that I hope more mention is made of the play, but that I am ready for Ribar to convince me her way is the right way. Very excited for more!

Rating: 4/5

Favorite Quote:
"'Oh god, I knew it,' I moaned, covering my face with my hands. 'I mean, I didn't really, but you've been dropping hint after hint after hint, and I should have known. I really should have. Oh god. I'm one of those girls.'
   'What girls?' he asked, perplexed.
   'Those girls. The ones in all those books and TV shows. Some dumb high school girl falls in love with some supernatural guy, and he's all, "Behold, I am five million years old!" and she's all, "Oh my god, how can you ever love pathetic little me!" and he's like, "Because of destiny!" or whatever. It's just so . . . ew. You know?'
   There was a pause. When I finally chanced a look up at him, he was biting his lip, like he was trying really hard not to laugh.
   'What?' I said defensively.
   'You're in love with me?'
   'Pfft. No. I've known you for like a week.' Another pause. 'You're a really good kisser, though.'"

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12 Comments:

Blogger Kat Balcombe said...

Ohhh a genie! The main character sounds like just the kind of character I love, and theatre drama = awesome.

Might have to track this one down.

November 23, 2012 at 5:21 AM  
Blogger Audra said...

Hm, interesting -- I like the use of a genie! I judge a heroine named Margo, however.

November 23, 2012 at 10:20 AM  
Blogger Stephanie Sinclair said...

Nooooo..... Insta-love!!! Lol. Well, I'm glad it works in this novel because I do think there are times where it's done right (doesn't happen often enough, though). I'm really glad you enjoyed this and I'm really excited to read it myself! Genies are a nice change of pace. Plus, that quote is hilarious! Lol.

November 23, 2012 at 11:50 AM  
Blogger Megan at Book Brats said...

I haven't heard of this one before Steph tweeted your review and I stopped over because I said, "I haven't heard of this one!" And I have to admit, now I want to get my hands on a copy. I mean, GENIES?! I loved I Dream of Jeannie and have always wanted someone to cleverly rip it off for a YA novel. I'm definitely going to have to give this one a look...

November 23, 2012 at 11:57 AM  
Blogger Renae said...

Ah, too bad about the insta-love. Sometimes it's hard to avoid, though.

Otherwise, this sounds amazing. I love that Margo is snarky inside her head, but has trouble with sarcasm around other people. That's such a relatable situation for me (and many others, I'm sure). Aside from that, the genie idea is super cool--I mean, how many books about genies are there outside of Arabian Nights?

November 23, 2012 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yes, I love when books are set around productions of plays!

It was very cute, and, I think, worth tracking down.

November 26, 2012 at 10:30 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Ha, why? Do you prefer Margot?

November 26, 2012 at 10:41 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

I think it's done pretty well here, though I would have been happier if they didn't say it. lol. Still, they do have a real connection, so there's that. Right? The heroine's so much more empowered than usual.

November 26, 2012 at 10:45 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Ha, I only heard of it because of my cover snark feature, so I saw the cover reveal and it perked my interest. Haha, I totally loved watching I Dream of Jeannie on marathons. *fistbumps*

November 26, 2012 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

It's not the worst I've encountered by any means, but I do wish that they just hadn't said it. Declaring love doesn't make it real and tends to make me more skeptical of the feelings if they just left that stuff unsaid, you know?

Exactly! Margo felt like such a real person to me. I also loved the genie stuff, which could have been lame but totally wasn't!

November 26, 2012 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger April (BooksandWine) said...

I LOVE WHEN YOU DO THIS! Make me pumped the heck up over books that have come in my mail because you read like a million times faster than I do. YAY YAY YAY!

Maybe I will read this over the weekend, it looks to be non-crazy so far and it will be so awesome to hermit it out with some books and my computer ha ha.

November 27, 2012 at 7:20 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Hahah, I don't always. I failed on so many BEA books and you've been getting through them like a champ!

Anyway, this book is super adorable! I hope you like it!

November 27, 2012 at 8:58 AM  

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