Jinx (Jinx, book one)
By Sage Blackwood
Published 2013 by HarperCollins
Jinx knows you're not supposed to leave the path, but in his case, he didn't have much choice. That's how he finds himself in the home of a wizard. Jinx also knows that wizards are evil. But Simon feels a bit different. Soon, Jinx wants to know more, but will his curiosity be the undoing of him?
As I mentioned recently, I'm just now getting around to reviewing the titles I read during my stint as a round two Cybils judge. Jinx was another title for which I had pretty high expectations - everything I'd read around the internet praised it highly and it sounded like a really interesting middle-grade fantasy.
I am fully on board with that last bit - this is a really interesting premise for a fantasy. There is a forest magic that Jinx seems to be in tune with, which is apparently really unusual in his world. I think Blackwood does a phenomenal job of explaining and creating the world that Jinx inhabits. Additionally, Jinx is a really fun character, one that I think kids will really like and want to read about. And, despite the fact that Simon doesn't always treat Jinx as well as he should, he's another really interesting and compelling character.
That's another great thing about this book - it's not just about magic and growing up. It's about bigger issues and full of morally complex developments. This is a book that will probably make kids think and question, one that they may find it helpful to discuss with others. Blackwood is not pulling any punches, not dumbing anything down for readers, and I always appreciate that. There is, unfortunately, still a belief that anything not written for adults is lesser than, which is simply not true.
So, why am I not jubilantly declaring my love for this book? Well, it might be another case of the hype machine, but, while I mostly enjoyed the book, I found the pacing a bit uneven. The story dragged in parts, so I sometimes struggled with wanting to continue reading. I found that, overall, the book just didn't quite live up to the buildup I'd heard surrounding it.
That being said, though, I think kids will really enjoy it and I'm interested enough to read the next book.