It seems peculiar that I am able to read so much more often now, still with a part time job. I have gotten through two books in two weeks and now I’m on the third. The first was The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig. The next one, the one this post is about, is Updraft by Fran Wilde. I brought both these books after writing about them in my dissertation and had a desperate need to read them.
I was surprised by Updraft at first, as I couldn’t get my head around the fantasy world that Fran Wilde had created. It took me a good few chapters to understand the layout, and the reasoning behind the towers she writes of. Once I got into the swing of it, it was really good and I finished it in two days. The way Wilde writes is very direct, no nonsense. She tells you what’s happening, how the protagonist feels and gives some details and description, but nothing too flourishing, which sat with me very well. I have a better idea of what’s happening in a novel if the author doesn’t bang on about the scenery, because it pulls focus from the objective of the story.
The idea and premise behind the story is amazing, with people on wings, soaring around a city of bone towers and, as always, a secret government doing nasty things. It was my kind of novel, once I got used to Fran Wilde’s style of writing and I flew through the book myself. Kirit’s character, the protagonist, was the most developed throughout, from being selfish and a little arrogant to realising that breaking the rules leads to punishment. She has decide whether she wants to help the city in the end, and I waited with baited breath. Another great character was Nat, who I thought would be the potential romantic interest, but nothing came of it. Once he started making mistakes, his character became depressed and angry, enough to want to fight the city himself and when he came face to face with Kirit, they both had to decide what to do.
One character that seemed… shall we say, a little off? Was…(hang on, I need to get the book because I can’t even remember his name)…Wik. I understood why he was there, as he was a big part of the story and the plot twists. But at the start of the book, he was big and menacing, scaring Kirit and bringing a large amount of fear into the beginning of this novel, something that every good book should start with as it gives motive, opportunity and objectives to the protagonists. However, within next couple of chapters he was suddenly a kind, generous and thoughtful person, which seemed like a huge extreme from one to the other. He was also another potential romantic interest which nothing came of, except a couple of gentle touches between him and Kirit.
One more thing that confused me, and then I’ll continue with the good stuff! The skymouths, which are the monsters that threaten and attack the towers at night. At the start, it was a migration, which meant everyone had to shut their doors and stay inside, but Kirit’s mother was allowed to go and trade during this time. Also their actual appearance I never really understood. They were invisible but fluffy with tentacles, with large mouths that turn red that you can then see? But the people on wings could hunt them, but how could they see them? I don’t know. I didn’t get it. Anyways, they are a large part of the book, which I didn’t expect and their purpose is a good one. So despite the fact I didn’t really know what they looked like or how they worked, I enjoyed reading about how this city dealt with these creatures.
This novel is so full to the brim with research. How the wind works, how drifts and updrafts and other wind related things work. You can tell, by reading the first chapter alone, that a lot of time and effort went into this novel on Fran Wilde’s part and it pays off. Anyone could write a novel like this, create a fantasy land, have people on wings and create some tension and turmoil and you’ve got a novel. But the dedication it must have taken to know how the wind work in order to describe it the way she does, and how, if we did fly, wings could work and bone structures and clouds. It’s incredible and a real testament to Fran Wilde, for creating a beautifully haunting novel from her knowledge and experience.
If you love high fantasy YA style novels, with twists and turns and people on wings, this novel is for you! Buy it here. It won the Andre Norton & Compton Crook book prize and was nominated for a Nebula award! Read more about Fran Wilde, look at her other novels and see what else this amazing author has achieved.