Review: Updraft by Fran Wilde
Published by Tor Books on September 1st 2015
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
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.
Updraft was a fun read. I really enjoyed the world and imagery of people living in towers in the sky, flying about towers with the aid of fabricated wings. It’s the coming of age story of Kirit, who discovers there is more to her world than she realized. She becomes entangled in politics and and her life has been thrust in a direction she did not expect.
I enjoyed the flying aspect and the idea of living up in the sky, but I was always a bit curious as to why they are living up there as well as where the towers they live in are rooted. This was a world where you could see it, but not necessarily understand fully how it evolved. But then to be fair, this is also just the first book, and perhaps if all the details were to be revealed early, it would either A) be a huge boring info dump or B) would ruin some of the mystery that may be addressed in future books. So, I can’t really fault it for this, but it was an observation that stemmed from a conversation with a fellow reader. Perhaps it doesn’t even need a reason. Maybe we were just being picky here and should just go with the flow and enjoy the story as it is told.
And the story as told was really good. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be able to soar and swoop, to spread their arms and take flight? And it’s not like these are people that evolved to do this, they are a people that devised a way for us humans to not just glide, but to really fly with control of our motions. It’s appealing and thrilling, I can understand why Kirit loves it. I also did enjoy the protagonist. Kirit has been working with the dream of passing her wing test and joining her mother. She’s a classic underdog in many ways, her singing voice is not so pretty
There are also fantastic creatures, dangerous and threatening, that add excitement and tension to the world. We can’t have everything all nice and pretty, right? So, between them, flying battles and the dangers of updrafts that can suddenly send a flier in a spiral, or into tower, or snap a wing, there are many nail biting, intense moments. Anything else I have to say, remember this, the book is exciting.
The one thing I had trouble connecting with in this book was how laws are songs. I just couldn’t quite feel that aspect, and didn’t feel like the words of the laws were quite lyrical enough for me to really be able to “hear” the music. Perhaps this is a shortcoming on my part. I hate to admit it, but it reminded me of how kindergartners are taught songs for class rules. The songs are simplistic, and often don’t flow, they are nothing catchy, just really a device for the teachers to help the kids memorize things. I felt the same way with the laws even though I suspect that was not the intended effect. I felt like in theory these songs should be some magical/beautiful pieces of music, but I just couldn’t get that from what I read. Oh well, overall this is a minor observation more than a real complaint. I still enjoyed the book, just felt like I didn’t quite “get” that aspect as I was supposed to.
When it comes down to it, Updraft was a highly imaginative exciting read that took us soaring through the world. The reading experience was fun and thrilling, and when it comes down to it, that is more important than anything else.