, by Fran Wilde, turned out to be too YA for my increasingly curmudgeonly tastes. Started out strong with a fascinating setting - people who live in skyscraper-like living bone towers, flying from tower to tower with manufactured wings, never seeing the ground - but the plot and characters ended up being aeriel Divergent
, more or less. Which, hey, good for Wilde, that's a fine reading public to want to provide with more books they'll enjoy, but I'm not part of it and I found it unbearably tedious.
The thing is, if you introduce a highly-resource-limited world, whether that's a water-world or a desert-world or an air-world, I want to know *how the fuck it works*, like, how did people end up in that situation? How do they support the population size? Where are they getting these raw materials? I start reading something like Updraft, I want it to be The Martian, I want to know if they actually have enough dirt to grow all those peas and potatoes and fruit and how they haul it from level to level as they move up the towers. And they're all wearing spider-silk, if the spiders live on ambient insects, that helps, and they're supplementing their diet with hunted birds, and metal is a rare artifact of the past, and there's clearly been some clever thinking here! Maybe it all works! But I want the tour, I want to get to see the farms and the spider herds and enjoy the fantastic-ness of all this fantasy world. With less having my disbelief un-suspensioned every time someone casually chucks buckets of organic waste out the window, like, *really*, your carbon cycle doesn't need that back?
Instead of world-tourism we get an endless emotionally-incoherent Conspiracies-Family Secrets-and-Webs of Betrayal(TM) Plot, which kicks off when the Secretive Ruling Caste like totally unfairly keeps the main character from passing her driving test even though she like totally studied, which eventually leaves her no choice but to become one of them and aaagh I am so sick of one very special girl dismantling the ludicrous rigid traditions of her society with her special determination. Ok, that's unfair, I've loved that book before and I'll probably love it again, but this wasn't it. The writing was painfully repetitive and I felt like it was hammering me with its narrative keywords as opposed to, y'know, actually getting me to care about any of them. I will give it points for No Romance, that's rare in this genre and I imagine it took some guts for Wilde to stand by not stuffing one in.
I will rec a related short story by Wilde in the same world, Bent the Wing, Dark the Cloud
, that doesn't show much of the world, but is much emotionally stronger.