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Known for her work in graphic novels, G. Willow Wilson (Cairo) uses the talent and imagination that garnered her an Eisner Award nomination for her series Air to great effect in her debut novel, an intriguing mix of fantasy, romance and spirituality wrapped up in cyberthriller packaging.
In an unidentified Muslim security state, a young hacker using the handle Alif--the first letter of the Arabic alphabet--specializes in protecting dissidents, Islamists, bloggers and anyone else willing to hire him from state surveillance. Alif is good at his job, maybe the best, but his private life has taken a sour turn. Intisar, the beautiful aristocratic girl he loves, has broken off their liaison to marry a prince chosen by her family. A half-Indian, half-Arab of no standing like Alif has no chance of challenging the prince's offer, and instead accedes to Initisar's request that she never again see his name by creating a program that blocks her from contacting him. But when Intisar sends Alif a mysterious book called The Thousand and One Days, rumored to be the djinn-authored companion to The Thousand and One Nights, his love life becomes the least of his worries. Suddenly the elusive entity known to the hackers as the Hand of God catches up to Alif at last, and he finds himself on the run from the secret police...
***This review comes from a Maximum Shelf issue of Shelf Awareness. For the rest of this review and a lovely interview with G. Willow Wilson herself, please visit http://www.shelf-awareness.com/max-issue.html?issue=11#m21