Christopher Pike and I go back a long ways. When I was in junior high and high school, I was obsessed with his books, counting his Final Friends series, Chain Letter, and Gimme a Kiss amongst my favorite books. Every time I was able to visit the Mr. Paperback a half hour from my house, I would go straight to the Young Adult section and hope for a new Christopher Pike book, anxious to fork over my $3.95. I owned every book he published. So it's not surprising that I was excited to see this new book as a galley offered through NetGalley.
Unfortunately, I found myself disappointed in this. But I think my disappointment stems more from the book being mis-categorized than with the story itself. This really didn't have the sophistication that I remember from the thrillers he wrote in the 80s and 90s. I think it would be better marketed as a middle-grade book rather than a young adult book. I can see 10-13 year-olds reading this, but not 16-18 year-olds.
As far as the story goes, I don't have too many major complaints, but I don't have any major kudos either. It just left me feeling "eh". Our main characters, Sara and Amesh, really aren't that compelling. They both come off as shallow and selfish and immature, and inconsistent. And whatever spark we're supposed to feel between them just wasn't believable. To me, it seemed like Sara didn't really care about him -- liking him was just a way to get attention. I thought the mythology of the djinn was interesting, since I haven't read many (if any) books with that as a basis. Istanbul started out as an interesting locale, but he could have gone further with it. I've been to Istanbul, and this story didn't recall the feelings I hoped for. I would have loved to see more of a description of the city, with its mosques and palaces and bazaars and variety of people, and a flying carpet could have given us a really unique perspective. Instead, the story started to feel like it could have taken place anywhere. The plot gets a little out of control with its twists and turns and double-crosses, but things are mostly wrapped up at the end. I suspect there will be a sequel, at least.