Updraft, by Fran Wilde

Updraft Book Cover Updraft
Fran Wilde
Fantasy, YA
Tor books
Sep 1 2015
e-book
368

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.

Oh, my!  I have been swept away (sorry, no, not sorry) by Updraft.

I think there's been a bit of buzz around this book - at least, I've seen a fair share of it - and it's completely justified, because this is some of the best world building, and characterization, and action, and charm, that I've seen in ages.  Really.    Fran Wilde has created something amazing here, and I hope she's not about to stop.

We have a strong and resourceful - yet flawed - main character,  suddenly taken out of her familiar surroundings - and all of her familiar hopes and dreams - then placed into a new, not altogether friendly environment.  Kirit is, fortunately, a quick learner - and a good flier.

Oh, yeah, she has to fly. Nearly everyone has to know how to wield a pair of wings - because this is a city of towers, far above the clouds.  The worst possible characteristic, in this place, is clumsy.

Closely followed by unlucky.

While there is plenty of drama and terrifying turns of events,  this was a blast to read. Updraft appears to be made out of positive energy, resulting in a uniquely upbeat, fun read.   If I had to compare this novel to anything, I think I'd have to reach for something like: "Well, what if Roald Dahl decided to do the YA dystopia thing?".   There aren't giant peaches or telekinetic little girls or big friendly giants, but the world presented in Updraft has that level of invention and wonder.

(And, you know, coming from someone who read her Matilda to pieces in childhood, this is considered significant praise!)

Yes, yes, yes! You want to read this. Especially if you share my fondness for city fiction - books about cities that are at least as interesting as main characters. Read! Unless you want grimdark, but if you wanted grimdark that was grim and dark, you wouldn't even be looking at this bright cover and the accompanying blurbs. Obviously.

(I see a bunch of people on goodreads have shelved this as steampunk. Really, now? Because there's a pair of goggles in there? )

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