I read Alif the Unseen
while I was on vacation a few weeks ago, and it struck me as having a lot of similarities with Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere
. An ordinary person is swept into an adventure where he learns that there is a parallel world intertwined with ours full of fantastic characters and creatures.
To a lesser extent, it also reminded me of Ready Player One
. While it isn't littered with fantastic 80s pop culture references, the first half of the book employs a similar quest-style plot complete with a large organization competing with vast resources to uncover the same secrets as the young protagonist. It also discusses the differences of interacting with people online in a virtual world, and how the identities and responsibilities might differ in real life.
I would definitely recommend it if you liked either of the above for those reasons. It's an easy, engaging read and also an interesting look into Middle Eastern politics.