Sunday, September 16, 2012
Master of None by Sonya Bateman
Gavyn Donatti is the world's unluckiest thief. Just ask all the partners he's lost over the years. And when he misplaces an irreplaceable item he was hired to steal for his ruthless employer, Trevor—well, his latest bungle just might be his last. But then his luck finally turns: right when Trevor's thugs have him cornered, a djinn, otherwise known as a genie, appears to save him.
Unfortunately, this genie—who goes by the very non-magical name of "Ian"—is more Hellboy than dream girl. An overgrown and extremely surly man who seems to hate Donatti on the spot, he may call Donatti master, but he isn't interested in granting three wishes. He informs Donatti that he is bound to help the thief fulfill his life's purpose, and then he will be free. The problem is that neither Donatti nor Ian has any idea what exactly that purpose is.
At first Donatti's too concerned with his own survival to look a gift genie in the mouth, but when his ex-girlfriend Jazz and her young son get drawn into the crossfire, the stakes skyrocket. And when Ian reveals that he has an agenda of his own—with both Donatti and the murderous Trevor at the center of it—Donatti will have to become the man he never knew he could be, or the entire world could pay the price. . . .
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While I enjoyed this book for the most part, I'm not entirely sure what to say about it now. The story was different, and fairly original, and the characters were mostly all likeable and believable, but there was just something a bit lacking about it I suppose. Despite the fact that I enjoyed it while I was reading, it never really grabbed and held my attention as much as some books do, and that's a large part of why I'm not rating it higher.
Gavyn is an unlucky thief who's somehow managed to lose the wrong item, and now he's on the run from one of the meanest crime lords in New York state. He's caught, and it would seem he's finally come to the end of the line, but then is miraculously saved by Ian, who turns out to be a djinn. As events play out, we find out that Gavyn had a relationship with a woman that goes by the name of Jazz. She's kind of his "the one that got away", though it wasn't so much that she got away but that he ditched her at some point for some reason. As Jazz comes back into the picture for him, and he learns more of what all is going on in the whole mess he's caught up in, he develops more and more of a conscience until he's probably the most caring and compassionate one of the whole bunch of characters.
Jazz is a spunky, independent woman. It's clear that she cares about Gavyn as well, but she's been burned by him in the past and has learned better than to trust him too much. He slowly manages to win her over more and more as the story goes on, but she makes it clear all along that she while she might want him in her life, she doesn't need him, and can manage just fine on her own. Such is a line heard from many heroines, but with Jazz you actually believe her, because it's clear that she has done just fine on her own, and that if anything, she'll be the one helping Gavyn out and saving his butt, rather than the other way around.
I haven't read a lot of things that involve djinn, but I thought this one had a fairly unique take on them. These are not the friendly, goofy sort of genies that you might know from fairy tales or Aladdin, instead they are gritty, angry sorts that most would think twice about associating with at all, let alone asking them for help. They are still elemental beings, but they have an entire society and culture of their own, and they're only in the human world under duress. At least for most of them such is the case. They all have their own agenda, and while they might at times lend aid to humans, they only really do so when it furthers their own agenda to help out. Because for all their powers, there are some things that humans can do that the djinn cannot, or at least not as easily.
For fans of urban fantasy, or of more esoteric paranormal creatures like djinn, this is a pretty good book I think, and has indications that it might develop into a decent series. Just the fact that the main character is a male, and one who's not a typical alpha male sort but one who's mostly just a regular sort of guy sets it apart to begin with. Though as I said at the beginning, there was just something lacking and it never entirely held my attention captive, still it was quite enjoyable and I'd give it a solid 3.5 stars. Worth a read if you're looking for something a bit out of the norm in urban fantasy.