Tag Archives: fran wilde

Updraft by Fran Wilde

UpdraftKirit lives in a city made of bone high above the clouds. Her mother Ezarit is an accomplished trader, who flies between bone towers negotiating trades and delivering anything any of the other people need, including medicine. All Kirit has to do is pass her wing test in a few days, and she can join her. But everything is turned sideways three nights before the wing test when Kirit it sitting on her balcony and is attacked by a skymouth. Kirit screams at the skymouth’s approach, and it flees from her voice. This unusual and rare event is witnessed by a Singer named Wik, a protector of the city. Wik offers Kirit a place as a Singer, and when she refuses, he sabotages her wing test and she fails. In retaliation, Kirit and her best friend Nat fly to the Spire, the home of the Singers, a place forbidden to regular citizens. Kirit is caught and told in order to keep the rest of her family and friends alive, she must become a Singer. Desperate to keep her mother and friends safe, Kirit agrees, moves into the Spire and begins training to become a Singer, the very thing she used to hate. The longer she lives among them, the more secrets Kirit discovers the Singers are hiding, and the more determined she becomes to reveal the truth to everyone.

Updraft is the first book in Fran Wilde’s Bone Universe trilogy. It falls somewhere between YA and adult fantasy. The protagonist Kirit is around 17 years old (though Wilde never says specifically), which often indicates YA fiction, but the novel’s themes of secrecy, betrayal, and death are much more “Adult” in nature. The library where I borrowed the book files it with their adult fiction. I snagged the book after I saw Fran Wilde speak in Philly with Kevin Hearne and Chuck Wendig. She was fabulous, and I was intrigued by the novel’s concept of a people who live above the clouds and build their own wings to travel around their city.

Wilde falls firmly into the Show Don’t Tell camp of world building. I never felt like I completely, 100% understood how the world worked, with the bone towers and Spire and how everything connected – and it was perfect. Not knowing everything added to the suspense and drama of the novel, and allowed the reader to better relate to Kirit, since Kirit didn’t know everything about her city either. Finding out along with Kirit really drew the reader into the story – you share her frustrations, fears, and hopes as they happen, and are never sure whether or not things are going to work out. I loved the feeling of not knowing, experiencing genuine fear and concern for characters I liked, hatred for those I disliked, and never quite knowing which side I was on.

Kirit was a well-written character. She was a heroine, but she didn’t have any special powers beyond grit and determination. She stood by her beliefs, but listened to new thoughts and ideas and wasn’t afraid to adjust her worldview when she learned new things. She protected those she loved, and always did what she believed was right. Her actions and choices made sense, and were believable – the reader could buy into the idea that Kirit was a relatively normal young adult and capable of thinking what she thought and doing what she did. Yes, that sentence is rather vague, but this book had too many twists and turns for me to even hint at a spoiler.

Speaking of the twists and turns, there were almost too many. Perhaps it was just because I was so engrossed in the novel, and so desperately needed to know how everything worked out, that I read it in about a day and a half. The slow reveal of all the various relationships between characters certainly added to the suspense, but I did catch myself thinking at one point, “Oh Good Lord, not another betrayal!” It got a little over-whelming to keep track of everything, and who was on which side of the conflict. This was not overly detrimental to the novel though, and I probably wouldn’t have noticed as much if I hadn’t been fatiguing from reading for about 5 hours straight.

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Me, this morning. 

Finally, I must mention, there was no hint of a love triangle. No love story at all really. See, authors everywhere. You can write a successful, thought-provoking, honestly fantastic YA(ish) fantasy novel without a lovesick, tortured female protagonist. There’s a tiny, minuscule, barely worth mentioning possibility one could appear in a later novel. But I find that rather unlikely. There was no cliffhanger either! Are there unanswered questions? Sure. Of course I want to know what happens next – I’m completely invested in Kirit, her friends Nat and Wik, especially since by the end of the novel the City has changed quite a bit since the beginning. But the main plot lines wrapped up fairly neatly, and the ending was satisfying.

4 and a half stars

Fran Wilde’s Updraft receives  4.5 out of 5 stars from me and I highly recommend it to those who love high fantasy, an unusual world, and a realistic, believable heroine. The second book in the trilogy is called Cloudbound, and I’m looking forward to reading it as soon as possible so I can be ready for the release of Horizon, the final book in the trilogy, this September. Go out and enjoy it!

Authors in Real Life!

This past Friday, I had the privilege to see one of my favorite authors, Kevin Hearne, along with Chuck Wendig and Fran Wilde in a Q&A and autograph session at the Philly library. It was awesome!!

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From left, Fran Wilde, Chuck Wendig, and Kevin Hearne. The lovely lady on the right is the Sci-Fi/Fantasy librarian and led the Q&A. 

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The beautiful Fran Wilde and the cover image for Updraft!

This was my first time meeting authors in person, and it was pretty freaking cool. I went specifically to meet Kevin Hearne, but instantly discovered Fran and Chuck are also hilarious and fabulous and their books have been added to my lengthy To-Read list as well. For those who do not know, Fran Wilde writes the Bone Universe trilogy, including Updraft, Cloudbound (just released) and Horizon (releases later this year…September? I can’t remember. They mentioned so many book release dates…). I haven’t read them yet, but Kevin Hearne described them by saying, “They are great books and you are happily reading them and then all of the sudden you need new pants.” Unfortunately, my local libraries don’t have these so I will have to wait to get them through Inter-Library Loan, but as soon as I read them I will review them!

blackbirds wendig coverChuck Wendig is also a hilarious human who has written a ton of books. I knew he wrote in the Star Wars universe, but he also mentioned the Miriam Black series, about a psychic who sees your death when she touches you. THAT sounds like an AWESOME concept. The first book, Blackbirds, is pictured to the right. I assured him I would be reading it ASAP. His Star Wars: Aftermath series (if I am understanding timelines correctly) occurs between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, and is part of the new canon. This isn’t at the top of my reading list, but I am intrigued so I will be checking it out at some point. Like a good little nerd, I do love me some Star Wars.

plague of giants hearne coverAt the signing, I purchased Kevin Hearne’s new book Besieged, a collection of short stories from the Iron Druid Chronicles. Obviously I am going to have to go back and re-read the entire series, with the new short stories in the correct order. I already adore Atticus, Oberon, and the rest of the characters from the Iron Druid Chronicles, but I am very excited for Kevin’s new book Plague of Giants, releasing hopefully in October. Totally new universe, completely different sort of fantasy story (from Iron Druid), and 11 different POVs throughout the novel. I’m stoked. I own the Iron Druid Chronicles books, so I may just pre-order Plague of Giants. If I don’t love it (which I suspect is pretty unlikely) I can always donate it to my library. Kevin also mentioned a new book series he is writing with Delilah S. Dawson. I have not read her work, but intend to now. The new series, which begins with a book called Kill the Farm Boy, is a satiric take on formulas and tropes found in, you know, every fantasy book ever. And I need it. Immediately. I believe Kevin said it comes out in November.

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Look!! I met Kevin Hearne!!

In addition to finding out about what they write, I learned some cool things from these authors, like they did a lot of (sometimes crappy) jobs before they achieved writing success. They also talked about their writing process, and how everyone is different and, as a writer, you need to figure out what works for you – and if what you are doing isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it. Which, when you think about it, is kinda a good rule for life as well. Anyway, I found it inspirational and it makes me want to get off my couch and write more, and hearing “regular” people talk about what they did really helped. If you get a chance to go meet authors, do it!