Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Jinxers, by Sabrina Chase

I'm 61. Do I qualify as a Young Adult? Well, based on my reaction to Jinxers, I'd have to say yes.
Jin is a street rat, fighting for survival in a bitterly cold winter in a city of Thama. (I'm thinking London-ish, but YMMV.) He's cold and hungry, and he lost his shelter in a fire. He's on the run from thugs, who think he might have stolen gold from his deceased benefactor; actually, he thinks he stole the gold as well, but the truth is that he took it to the undertaker to pay for a decent burial. It's a neat little plot point, which keeps him on the edge, regardless of the other circumstances.
While searching through the ruins of a burned out building for something he can swap for another day of life, he finds...
Okay, I promise this won't be a very long rabbit trail. When I was around 10, marbles suddenly emerged as a wonderful thing for boys to have. Nobody that I knew ever played with them like Tom Sawyer, but we collected them and swapped them. Some of them were incredibly beautiful.

...a glowing glass sphere, and when he takes it in his hand, a door to another world opens up, and he falls through, and he is WARM! Hot, actually, because he's in a sandy desert (I'm thinking generic Middle East, but again, YMMV) and before long, he passes out...
...only to awake in an underground cavern, where he is cared for by a woman and her daughter, both of whom are "swathed in fabric from head to foot."
And his adventures begin...
...I appear to be fascinated by the use of ellipses in this review...
There comes a point in every good book where you find you are captured. After that point, there is NOTHING you can do, because the author OWNS your attention. I'm guessing what all authors strive for is an opening sentence that accomplishes the capture: Call me Ishmael; "TOM! YOU, TOM!";Louis Wu was under the wire. Those are classic, and there are certainly others which may be your personal favorite, and I hope not to insult you by leaving them out. You may, if you wish, append them to this review by way of adding a comment. However, the point at which Sabrina owned MY attention was when I read the title of Chapter 2, which is: “More Lost Than Usual.”
Is that not beautiful?
"More Lost Than Usual." That would make a good bumper sticker, wouldn't it?
Jin and Zinde ( the daughter swathed in cloth) and Moro (the son of the well digger) conspire to free the village of Gilbadeh from the grim predations of The Repressive Exploiters, in the process discovering allies and enemies, some more incredibly beautiful marbles, umm, I mean glowing spheres, and bounce from world to world in the process. If you think that rips the beauty from the story, it does. The ferocity of Zinde, who craves any reason to use her father's sword, and the snarky comments of Moro must really be read to be appreciated. I'm leaving out the contributions of the adults almost entirely, because the story isn't about them. It's also really not about the ability of Jin to manipulate the marbles to open the portals, although that is an essential plot point; those with that ability are referred to as Jinxers, hence the name of the book. What makes the book satisfying, other than the excellent writing, is that Jin finds freedom from his demons of guilt, and finds family and purpose as well.
I hope this isn't going to be a stand-alone book. The characters are engaging, and there remains a great deal of injustice to be relieved, but there are ethical issues with that, as well. I'd like to see how those resolve, so:

Please, Sabrina, may we have some more?

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