Updraft – Fran Wilde

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Summary:

In a city of living bone rising high above the clouds, where danger hides in the wind and the ground is lost to legend, a young woman must expose a dangerous secret to save everyone she loves

Welcome to a world of wind and bone, songs and silence, betrayal and courage.

Kirit Densira cannot wait to pass her wingtest and begin flying as a trader by her mother’s side, being in service to her beloved home tower and exploring the skies beyond. When Kirit inadvertently breaks Tower Law, the city’s secretive governing body, the Singers, demand that she become one of them instead. In an attempt to save her family from greater censure, Kirit must give up her dreams to throw herself into the dangerous training at the Spire, the tallest, most forbidding tower, deep at the heart of the City.

As she grows in knowledge and power, she starts to uncover the depths of Spire secrets. Kirit begins to doubt her world and its unassailable Laws, setting in motion a chain of events that will lead to a haunting choice, and may well change the city forever—if it isn’t destroyed outright

Review:

I hate it when you can’t really pin down why a book doesn’t work for you. When you hate a book it’s often easy to point at this or that and definitely go “this is it.” But with books like Updraft it feels a bit more puzzling and it takes more time to essentially feel it out and try to do your guesstimate as to why it didn’t work, and even when you do, there’s always some lingering doubt as to whether that was truly it, but it will have to suffice.

On the surface, this is one of those that should have worked for me: the world building was unique, the magic system kind of different and the lead Kirit likable. So what went wrong?

First thing I can think of is pacing: it takes a full third of the book to get going. Wilde spends a decent amount of time trying to make it seem as if there’s a chance things will go different, but as a reader, I know it cannot be else we wouldn’t have the plot summary that we have. As a result, the time devoted to avoiding the expected outcome is only well spent if it gives us added depth either in the character or world building. Do I think it did those things? Not really, which ultimately made it felt like a waste of time.

Second, though the world is unique, the story itself isn’t. You can figure out the beats pretty readily. At one point there’s a fight and you know who her opponent will be even before its announced. It’s supposed to be a twist, and yet you can sense it coming a mile away.

Finally, I honestly don’t think the stakes are as high as the book would have you believe. On the scale of evil that is the norm for these kinds of books, the Singers aren’t really all that bad and their secrets aren’t that mysterious or that shocking. There is one thing that they do (which I won’t spoil here) that is definitely on the bad side, but did I feel like there needed to be revolution the way you can make the argument in say Divergent or The Hunger Games? Not really. It’s a pretty mild dystopia. While it’s nice to not have them be All of the Evil, if you aren’t vested in the stakes, than it makes it harder to be vested in the story. I just didn’t feel like this was worthy of getting up in arms about.

Like I said, this is one of those ones where I’m left cold, but I didn’t exactly dislike it either. If the premise is intriguing to you and you were going to pick it up anyway, I’d say wait for it to go on sale. Otherwise, you can keep looking.

Verdict: Skip It

Available: Now

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