The Art of Wishing (The Art of Wishing #1)Featured
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.
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.
I liked Margo. I really, really liked her. She was exactly the kind of protagonist I hope for when it comes to paranormal YA like this - strong and real. She still had some growth to accomplish, but she was relatable and believable and she didn't swoon over 200 year old vampires.
Freaking Oliver, you guys. All the swoons. I don't know what it was about him - maybe Lindsay Ribar just writes kissing scenes really well (hint, she does) - but I just loved him. So, basically, the romance in this paranormal romance is really well done and there is kissing scenes aplenty.
I haven't read any genie stories, although I do know there's some coming out later this year next, but I loved the way Lindsay Ribar incorporated the mythology into The Art of Wishing. She made it her own very well, but still had that homage to the kinds of genies we always think of.
And you guys, there are some intense moments in the plot of The Art of Wishing. There's bad guys and knife fights and impersonations and it's all pretty awesome. I spent was pretty frustrated because I kept thinking of a billion wishes Margo could have made to solve everyone's problems, but Lindsay Ribar's genies have limitations, so it was pretty cool that they couldn't just wish their problems away so easily.
I didn't realize The Art of Wishing would be a series, but I am totally happy to spend more time with Oliver, so no complaints here!
If you're looking for a paranormal YA that's a breath of fresh air to the genre, I definitely recommend picking up The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar. I was giddy and swoony throughout, but definitely still had those moments of "oh my god what's going to happen" - I just enjoyed The Art of Wishing immensely.
Especially the kissing scenes.