Updraft – Fran Wilde

About the Book

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.

352 pages
Published on September 1, 2015
Published by Tor
Author’s webpage
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This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Have you ever ran across a book that you didn’t think you’d want to read but you ended up reading it and being glad you did so? Updraft was that sort of book for me. I didn’t think I’d like it. I had almost no intention of reading it, but once I did, I was damn glad I gave it my time. Updraft surprised me. While in some ways I was a bit torn, the overall experience was lovely. This is a rather ingenious novel, and absolutely memorable because of that.

The first thing that most people will remark on with Updraft is the world building. This is one of the most unique worlds that you will run across, with an obvious social structure, and a society living in bone towers and dependent upon flight for trade and survival. There are also some unique creatures that threaten this society, creatures that have evolved to impact a society that lives high in towers and fly for trade and whatever else.

Fran Wilde has thought of just about everything regarding her world, from social structure, to issues that a society like this would face, to religious organizations, trade agreements and just about anything else you can think of. In fact, the world building is the strongest point of the novel, and it is just about as absorbing as the story itself. It’s hard not to be utterly enchanted by a world that is this different.

The plot is where I’m torn. This novel is adult, but it reads like a young adult crossover in a lot of ways. That’s not a bad thing, but it is something readers should be aware of. For some reason, that caught me off guard. Updraft features a young protagonist who is undergoing some growing pains as she becomes an adult in a world that is requiring a lot from her. Kirit is an easy character to love. She makes some rash decisions and has to cope with the results of those decisions. Things get hairy, and she’s pushed past her comfort zone over and over again. There is a lot of growth that takes place as Kirit moves from young adult to adult.

However, what comes with this is a lot of predictability. I wasn’t ever really that surprised with who the baddies were, or what the end result of the novel would be. Kirit is an easy character to love, and she’s rather wholesome and easy to cheer for, but a lot of the situations she finds herself in aren’t that shocking and it’s pretty easy to see how it will all pan out. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes it’s nice to sit back and enjoy a novel that you don’t really have to think that hard about. There is something to be said for a book that you can just sit back and enjoy on just about every level, and sometimes wholesome is refreshing, and predictability is a good thing.

Despite all of that, there is something quite refreshing about being able to enjoy a novel for what it is. Kirit is a wholesome character, and the plot, while predictable, is rather absorbing. It’s really interesting how Wilde managed to merge such an interesting, unique world, with a plot that is, in many ways, classic and time tested. The two elements balance each other well, keeping the book grounded in a human story, while unique enough to be captivating to a wide age range. In the end, this book was a bit predictable, but it worked and I really couldn’t fault it for its predictability.

Updraft was a book that surprised me. The world is absolutely unforgettable, and the story is completely human. Kirit is easy to love, and her plight is one that just about everyone will relate to on some level. This book reads more like a young adult crossover, but that’s not a bad thing. It will appeal to a wide age range. It’s grounded in a very emotional reality, but soars with its fantastic world building. Updraft is worth reading. Fran Wilde is an author to watch.


4/5 stars


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