Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Updraft, by Fran Wilde

I have just finished another excellent Nebula award nominee, Updraft by Fran Wilde.  Thought I haven't read the winner yet (Uprooted is on my list and my Kindle) this had to have been a strong contender.  In fact it won in the young adult category.  It features a young protagonist, though the tone of the book isn't really youthful.  It's a good, challenging read.

The synopsis was kind of blocky and made the book sound kind of ordinary, so I wasn't sure I would like it.  In fact, I was fascinated by it.  Wilde has crafted an amazingly complex universe, with plenty of potential.

The people of the City (and the people know of nothing beyond the City, so far as I can tell) live in a set of living bone towers that rise up out of the clouds.  They apparently at one point lived below the clouds, but they fought constantly and were almost wiped out when the last few decided to Rise and inhabit the towers.  Now their entire universe is those towers, and the central Spire, where the Singers who interpret the City and protect its residents, live.

Basically they are parasites of some sort, though the nature of what grows the towers they live in is not explored.  It's a precarious existence, and the people are a hard lot.  Not given to assisting the weak or helping each other.

Our protagonist wants to apprentice to her mother as a trader, though their relationship is a cool one.  But she's not very careful, and an infraction marks her as a Lawsbreaker.  She is offered amnesty if she joins the Singers, and eventually does so.  From there the book develops the secrets of this universe, while continuing to clarify the character of the people.

The book is a fine, satisfying read.  And it has a real ending, even though it is meant to be a part of a series.  There is a definite sense of closure at the end, but plenty of room for new stories.

This is a book I'd highly recommend to adults of any age.   I look forward to many more.  4 stars!

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