Gavyn Donatti is the world’s unluckiest thief. Just ask all the partners he’s lost over the years. And when he misplaces an irreplaceable item he was hired to steal for his ruthless employer, Trevor—well, his latest bungle just might be his last. But then his luck finally turns: right when Trevor’s thugs have him cornered, a djinn, otherwise known as a genie, appears to save him.
Unfortunately, this genie—who goes by the very non-magical name of “Ian”—is more Hellboy than dream girl. An overgrown and extremely surly man who seems to hate Donatti on the spot, he may call Donatti master, but he isn’t interested in granting three wishes. He informs Donatti that he is bound to help the thief fulfill his life’s purpose, and then he will be free. The problem is that neither Donatti nor Ian has any idea what exactly that purpose is.
At first Donatti’s too concerned with his own survival to look a gift genie in the mouth, but when his ex-girlfriend Jazz and her young son get drawn into the crossfire, the stakes skyrocket. And when Ian reveals that he has an agenda of his own—with both Donatti and the murderous Trevor at the center of it—Donatti will have to become the man he never knew he could be, or the entire world could pay the price...
Publisher: Pocket Books, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Single Title/Series: MASTER OF NONE is book one in an as of yet untitled series.
Cover Thoughts: This is a particularly striking cover and after having read the novel, it really sets a compelling stage for its inner contents. The small town portrayal in the background emphasizes the on-the-run plot beautifully. And of course there's the stunning wolf alongside our hero, Gavyn Donatti, that really piques one's interest and his story is nothing short of fantastical. All in all, a perfect fit for MASTER OF NONE.
Why I Read It: I was offered a copy by the publisher for review.
Gavyn Donatti may be the worst thief in Thiefdom but he's still a thief nonetheless and really he can't see himself attempting any other profession. Besides, his track record might be bound to improve if he had any sort of luck on his side but sadly, Donatti has the worst luck as well as the worst timing. Given that Donatti expects...well the worst in every situation, he's rarely surprised these days when it comes to exactly that. But when a seemingly indestructible giant of man saves him twice in less than twelve hours, Donatti thinks his luck may be turning around... That is until it becomes frighteningly obvious that his savior is perhaps the most unluckiest thing to have ever happened him.
Ian is a djinn warrior - better known to humans as a genie - and truly the last person he wants to rely on is a thief which consequently becomes Donatti's nickname. Just a subtle reminder that Ian doesn't agree with Donatti's "profession" nor does he feel comfortable relying on him as he's being forced to do. So, what makes Ian a djinn and not a genie? Well, while a djinn may be similar to a genie (think Aladdin), there'll be no three wishes granted with these djinn warriors but rather the genie term is loosely applied due to the fact that they all have a tether which, of course, resembles the concept of the mythical genie's lamp. And like the lamp, this tether is critical to the djinn for their very survival and if it fell into the hands of another, it could definitely spell their doom. And lastly, like a genie, the djinn also have powers but they are either strengthened or weakened depending upon their lineage.
Very early on, we're altered to the fact that the djinn are not of this world but rather exist in a separate magical realm. So why are these very un-Earthly beings on Earth? Well, that's a long story, one that is drawn out quite well by Ms. Bateman. Details to Ian's existence on Earth - better thought of as imprisonment really - are heartbreaking and you can't help but sympathize with him and the horrible centuries he's been forced to endure trapped on Earth. Yup, centuries, all with the hope of returning home after destroying one particularly nasty djinn line that were previously banished to Earth: The Morai.
Considering Donatti's expect-the-worse mentality, his ease of acceptance with regards to Ian was both believable and important given the fact that the djinn is introduced within the first few pages followed by skyrocketing action. Coincidentally, Ian and Donatti are hoping to eradicate - in essence - the same foe. Lenka, leader of the morai, is Donatti's mortal enemy's employer. Yup, there's that bad luck again and while Donatti would like nothing more than to run for the hills rather than have to endure what is sure to be a very slow and tortuous death at the hands of Trevor (loosing the take he stole doesn't win Donatti any points), a sudden major complication makes an unhappy appearance in the form of Donatti's former flame, Jazz. Thinking he'd never see her again after some really bad luck had him cutting off their fiery relationship, Donatti is shocked to discover that mixed within his fear are some strangely strong protective emotions where Jazz is concerned. This along with Jazz's endangered life has Donatti resolving to do whatever it takes to keep her safe.
Very soon, things turn into one hell of a backwoods car chase with Donatti, Ian, Jazz and two others doing their best to avoid Trevor's henchman, an eerily calm bounty hunter as well as fending off enraged cops all with the goal of bringing down the enemy while staying alive. Being on the run for your life makes planning Trevor's and Lenka's much needed demise difficult but Donatti soon emerges as a surprisingly capable leader amongst a bunch of very resourceful and brave beings. While it may appear that Donatti's luck continues to slide down the hillside as each failed hideout is detected and every boosted car destroyed, in actuality Donatti is acquiring something better than luck and that's a family. Having grown up in orphanages and loosing all his misguided partners in crime, Donatti has lived a lonely life and while his new found partners may initially drag their heels, they can't deny Donatti's incredible drive to make things right not only in their current dire situation but also by doing his best to remedy the past.
Donatti, who began the novel as a bedraggled unlucky thief, ends the story as a truly believable hero and more importantly, he's deserving of the title. Ultimately, his role was the most difficult as he was tested from point A to B and given no quarter by anyone, friend or foe. Having risen from the bottom to the top was no easy climb but Donatti does it with his own comical flare. There's an interesting combination of vulnerability and bravery; he's not a reluctant hero but rather a man that does what he has to do and taking a quote from John McClane in 'Live Free or Die Hard', "That's what makes you that guy". The term hero isn't necessarily a label Donatti craves but rather something that would lead him to shrug and say he did what he had to do for his family, for those he loves and that's what makes him that guy.
MASTER OF NONE is nothing short of a combustible, non-stop action thrill ride with the paranormal elements heating up fiercely every step of the way. There is no page that doesn't further the plot or the character's struggles as Ms. Bateman coaxes us along with tantalizing djinn details.
However, despite the intricate plot, I felt more of a spectator rather than a participant but I'm chalking this up to the fact that MASTER OF NONE is my first straight urban fantasy novel. Every other UF book that I've dived into featured a female lead as well as strong romantic elements in the form of a sexy love triangle. MON had no romance to speak of and I was unfamiliar with viewing the world only through the hero's eyes.
Also, I have to admit to some irritation over the severe judgements and antagonism that Donatti continually suffered from all the secondary characters. While this was an ingenious effort on Ms. Bateman's part to portray Donatti's horrible past behavior without going into unnecessary detail, I also felt that maybe it went a little too far. It became apparent to me that what started off as fair anger on the secondary character's part, soon evolves into an outlet for their frustrations and thus led me to become a bit disenchanted with them. Of course Donatti takes their anger all in stride and truly, he feels he deserves it. And while maybe he does or rather did, I think that the way Donatti continued to pull everyone out of danger should have had them reconciling their issues a bit quicker.
In any event, these issues are on an extremely personal scale and truth be told, this was an absolutely stellar debut. Thankfully we've not heard the last of Donatti and his crew for there's a whole lot of evil djinn on Earth that need butt-kickin'. For anyone who lives and breathes for Urban Fantasy or for those that want some definite thrills, I believe you will genuinely enjoy MASTER OF NONE.
Smexy Books: 4-4.5/5
Bitten by Books: 5/5
Geeks on Fire
I do have one copy of MASTER OF NONE to giveaway. Just leave a comment below to enter. Good luck!
**Must be 18 or Older to Enter**
***Contest Closes Wednesday, April 21st at Midnight U.S. Pacific Standard Time and a Winner will be Chosen Randomly and Announced Thursday, April 22nd**