This is the book I finished on the airplane ride home from Paris! I would say it has good associations now, but that was a nightmare of a homecoming, so... there are no good associations. Except for the delicious bagel I got the morning of the second day of flying, and even that is clouded over by the fact that the airport milk I got was bad... so disappointing. Thankfully, Alif the Unseen, the book for the Book Written By Someone Under 30 challenge, is good enough to provide plenty of good associations on its own.
Go read the Goodreads snippet, if you don't already know what the gist of the story is. Because I, for sure, cannot sum it up myself in a way that would do it any justice. Middle Eastern unrest, a clever yet impossibly lame hacker for an MC, something like One Thousand and One Nights, actual jinn and their supernatural habitat, the mingling of technology and magic! Not to mention fantastically drawn characters! What is there not to love about this story?
I gave it a solid 4.5 on Goodreads, which echoes another recent 4.5 - A Darker Shade of Magic. The two stories give me a lot of the same feelings - there wasn't the emotional depth that would have otherwise catapulted these two books into a full 5 stars, but they have everything else. The writing is not flowery or purple, but it's beautiful, expressive and magical without sacrificing coherency; the characters flow over their stereotypes to become heroes you really, really root for; both authors excel at mingling magic with a sense of the Real World.
Alif comes with the added bonus of truly beautiful musings on religion. The religion of choice is, of course, Islam; however, like any story with a decent perspective on religion, there are moments specifically for adherents of Islam (a lot rests on the translation, or inability thereof, of the Qu'ran) and there are moments for everyone who believes in a higher spiritual power or deity. And what beautiful moments Wilson gives. They made my brain purr.
This is an adult book (often classified, mistakenly, as YA) and for that reason I would warn younger/more sensitive readers of some brief sensual scenes and strong language, but, seriously, if there's any chance of you not being disturbed by these things, read this book. If there's any more adulty book that you read, it should be this one.