CBR11 Bingo Square: Travel
Now perhaps the characters in this story don’t journey far beyond their city (though they do end up in the outskirts) and largely travel within it in a physical sense, but this novel also includes a journey to an unseen world of djinn, and therefore I picked it for the Travel square for CBR bingo.
Alif the Unseen centers around a young hacker who goes by the pseudonym Alif, in an unnamed city along the Persian Gulf. This city is a security state, and he provides services to any dissidents who want to speak freely. After getting tangled up in a bit of a mess with a woman, and creating a program that can identify people’s digital footprints, he finds himself in trouble not just romantically, but now with a Prince who goes by the alias of The Hand, who seeks to imprison those who speak against the state. On the run with his neighbour, Dina, who accidentally gets caught up in everything, and with nowhere to hide, Alif finds himself seeking help and refuge from those he may never have considered, and creating a perfect storm that may just spur the revolution that people have long desired. But what if the mess Alif has made is not one that can be fixed?
The world created in Alif the Unseen is rich and detailed, a true cyberpunk fantasy that mixes the technological with old myths, religion, and philosophies in an intriguing way. Truly, this is a story of a young man finding himself heeding a call, and coming to understand a greater extension of the world. While I love the tangling of myth and science, and think that for the most part it works in this novel, this is also my one sticking point: sometimes the tech stuff gets a little too techy and I just don’t understanding what they are getting at. It’s like when I watch Mr. Robot and suddenly my brain shuts off when they start discussing more in-depth computer terms. And I thought I was pretty good at picking up technology? Hmm.
All in all, this novel was an engaging read with a pace that never felt like it was dragging, and engaging characters that made it both fun and thought-provoking. This is also, in fact, the second novel I have read from G. Willow Wilson this year, and I have enjoyed both of them!