Updraft is the debut novel of a fairly new fantasy author, Fran Wilde. It takes place in a world where people live in bone towers (I don’t know why – it’s never explained) in the sky with clouds below and above them, following the story of a young woman named Kirit. This whole world also seems to be encompassed in a single city. And, in regards to the fact that this novel won the Andre Norton Award, all I can think is: Really?
I honestly don’t understand why this book won an award. I would say that Kirit was a selfish brat, but the characters were such cardboard cutouts that I have my doubts about their emotional capacity. And the story was so bland, I gave up halfway. That’s right, I didn’t finish the book; in fact, I actually skipped and skimmed the last chapter and found it thoroughly unimpressive. While the world itself is interesting, the realization of it is poorly executed (it’s actually reminiscent of a cartoon I liked called Storm Hawks, but the way that world was portrayed was far better than this book).
Apparently, the main means of travel is by the people using their own wings which they strap on like with a pair of shoes, but how they work is never addressed, so I ended up being mostly confused. Do they use their arms to fly or some sort of device? Both? I don’t get it. And that was only the start of my many questions from page one, most of which were in the vein of Did I miss something?
I could have gotten past all that except for the writing style, which was so…simplistic. Actually, it reminded me of my own writing style when I was in middle school. …Just let that sink in for a minute. While it’s not bad, the novel is definitely not great, but Wilde must be doing something right to keep the reader engaged to at least the midway point. Regardless, I don’t intend to finish the book, read the sequel, or pick up another one of Wilde’s books in the future.
For a closer look at why I didn’t finish, check out my YouTube video here! Warning: video contains spoilers.