The Perfect Wish

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It was supposed to be a dying teen’s last wish: a trip to Disneyland. Jimmy Paterson has other plans though, and instead conspires with his grandfather and sets off for Ethiopia, hoping to immortalize himself by charting an unknown river and dying a great explorer. But when he crosses paths with a conman and finds himself lost in the desert, Jimmy discovers something truly fantastic.

He’s somehow tumbled headlong into the complicated politics of a lost civilization, the land of Sheba, hidden from the modern world for millennia. As Jimmy finds himself drawn to the stunning Princess Tamar and navigates the strange laws of Sheba, he also lands in the crosshairs of a treacherous priest and his vicious son, who want Jimmy gone and the princess for themselves. As Jimmy’s medication dwindles and Sheba threatens to become his gravesite, he must choose between life and Tamar, our world and Sheba.

The Perfect Wish/ has the feel of an updated Edgar Rice Burroughs novel, with the lost civilization, the culture shock, and the mildly condescending/flirting-with-old-timey-racism speech patterns (lots of “thy” and “thou” for vaguely specified reasons).

Sheba is interesting, riding a lot of the old dime novel cliches — class systems, scholars bickering with religious powermongers, stringent rules resulting in death, elusive and convenient dark forces lingering at the edge of society — but manages to feel a bit more genuine and engaging than many “lost cultures” that have come before.

I’m not entirely sure if we’re supposed to root for Jimmy as a protagonist. He comes off as utterly selfish and unappreciative, dismissing his girlfriend’s affection, the concern of his parents, and indeed, the good nature of his entire school. He vacillates wildly between self-centered brat and hero-in-the-making-who-makes-a-lot-of-mistakes-along-the-way. Jimmy comes off a lot less likable than perhaps the author intended.

The Perfect Wish is a strange read, with plenty to recommend and plenty to be wary of. Uneven but interesting, it’s a fish-out-of-water adventure that will no doubt grab your attention.

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Star Count 3/5
Format Trade
Page Count 340 pages
Publisher Inkwater Press
Publish Date 12-Jul-2013
ISBN 9781592999606 Buy this Book
Issue November 2013
Category Young Adult


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