There is no way I can describe this book as something I would like reading. It is not very intellectual but also not exactly a love story, It is just a well written novel with a touch of fantasy. It develops something like the movie Crash, telling the story of a few unrelated characters that at some point in the book meet each other and then realize how their existence is interconnected. The characters are relatable and compelling.
The book deals mildly with some interesting existential questions, like can a man made Golem have a soul? Fall in love? Is destroying her the same as killing someone? It talks about the value of community, loyalty, human nature, religion, friendship, selfishness.
But above it all, the story keeps you interested from the beginning to the end. The peaces of the puzzle are well laid out and things make sense when they are revealed. There is no major plot twist and even the climax is very short.
So, to summarize the story, I just need to talk about the characters. This is just some of them. As this is spoiler free, just remember that all of them are somewhat connected:
- Chava, the Golem: obedient, intelligent and curious. Made out of clay to be the wife of a merchant, she soon finds herself without a master, and must discover what it means to be human. More specifically, an immigrant jew widow female in the beginning of the 20th century England.
- Ahmad, the Jinni: independent, arrogant and reckless. Trapped in a bottle for centuries, released in a distant time and place, forever trapped in a human body. Must also discover how to fit in with the rest of humanity.
- Shaalman: knowledge seeker, corrupted by power. Creator of the Golem. He plays a big role latter in the story.
- Rabbi Meyer: good and pious man, the educator of the Golem.
The plot did have some characters making stupid decisions, but it was in accord with their personality. What I found lacking though was the missed opportunity of more connections between the characters. Two examples:
- I was expecting Maryan to be the descendant of the the Bedouin girl who the Jinni first loved, and that's how she came into possession of his prison flask and also how she somehow knew there was something wrong with him.- Also, the spark Saleh "removed" from a Bedouin girl could have been the in her by the Jinni, and when they met, something different could have happened.