Master of None—Sonya Bateman

"If it comforts you, dear lady, I can assure you that your sister is not feeling any pain at the moment. Nor will she ever again."
"Trevor, you disgusting—" The phone shook in Jazz's hand. "She wasn't a threat to you. To anyone. How could you?"
"Bring Mr. Donatti and his resourceful friend to me. It's your only change for survival."
"Kiss my ass."
In that instant, I knew I loved her. (121)

Thief Gavyn Donatti is not having the best luck recently. He completed a job for a psycho, but unfortunately lost the item that he was procuring for said psycho (a.k.a. Trevor). Obviously, Trevor doesn't take kindly to this loss. While on the run from Trevor's goons, Gavyn doesn't get far, and is only slowed down further by the appearance of a man who seems to know an eerie amount about him...Turns out the mystery man is a djinn (or as we sometimes call them, genies) because of course he is. Even more than that, Gavyn is part of the djinn Ian's bloodline, with about four hundred years between them. Ian needs Gavyn to help him defeat the evil factions of djinn that are currently occupying space on our plane, as well as prove to the leader of the djinn world that there is actually a threat to manage. To pile onto this already overwhelming amount of new information for Gavyn, when he calls an old girlfriend to help drive he and Ian away from Trevor's thugs, he finds out that he has a two year old son. Now everyone Gavyn knows is in danger, as Trevor mows down anyone in his way to get what he wants.

I was surprised to find that there was a male protagonist in this story, given it's presence on the Vaginal Fantasy list. Not upset, just surprised. Usually the VF picks are female protagonist driven. Regardless, Gavyn was such a relatable character to me. He's skilled, but he doesn't have all of his shit together, he doesn't have it all figured out. But he's also a good improviser and problem solver, which is helpful when you are one of those people who doesn't have it all figured out. And although he's a thief, he has a moral code, which is just another facet of his story that makes you root for him.

Ian's story was heartbreaking, having been separated from his wife and constantly under threat from other djinn factions. He's also the only remaining djinn of his kind, which is always a tough lot in life. Jazz was badass and snarky, but not at the expense of every other personality trait, which is sometimes the case for "strong female characters" in books like this. Jazz's struggle to protect her son from a situation which she's involved in merely because she happened to know a guy once (and okay, he's her baby daddy, but that's incidental) makes the stakes all that much higher. As if preventing the evil djinn from taking over this world and the djinn world weren't high enough stakes.

I thought this was an interesting take on the genie story, especially with the different djinn "families" and their shapeshifting. I've never seen those two concepts—genies and shapeshifters—in the same book before. It totally made sense in the context of the book as well, and didn't seem needless. The whole mythology of the djinn in this story was very well articulated in what was really a small amount of space. The idea that the Roman and Greek gods were djinn is not a completely outlandish claim, and I actually love when stories integrate historical moments.

I did think it was a little weird that Gavyn suddenly had these magical powers, but it seemed as though that was explained with the concept of needing/willing things to happen; if you don't even fathom that's a skill you might have, why would you ever will something to happen in that way? Even with that explanation, he did learn remarkably quickly for someone who didn't even know that real magic existed until a few days earlier.

There was some romance, but not any sexy times, which I was totally fine with. I liked the relationship between Gavyn and Jazz, and it wouldn't really have made sense in my mind for them to have been like, "Oh hey, we're on the run and possibly our lives are threatened if we let our guards down for one second, but do you want to bone?" Not to mention that Jazz was sheltering in the djinn world for a significant portion of the book.

Twelve down! Twenty to go.
The VagFan ladies didn't talk about this book during the Hangout, although it was mentioned at the very end. Still a fun conversation.

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