I have read two other books by James Bow and greatly enjoyed them, but this book takes my appreciation of his writing to a whole new level. It was interesting I was reading both this book, and The Swan Riders - Prisoners of Peace book 2 by his wife Erin Bow at the same time. I was reading the eBook of this and a printed advance copy of Swan Riders. Slowly this book started monopolizing more and more of my time until I rushed through to finish it first. It got to the point where I just could not put this book down, I ended up taking a long lunch at work to finish it one day.
This story is gripping with a great intensity even with the slow pace of the story and is compelling in the message it conveys and how it is presented. It a world founded on lies and secrets a group of humans spread across thirteen cities suspended in chasms live a perilous life. The sun will easily kill humans if in it directly for long, but there are monsters in the fog below on the ground. Much of the technology that brought them here was lost in the first few days because of how harsh an environment it is and wiring just fried. And now their world is about to be turned upside down.
Simon Daud just wanted to be a pilot. And on his final flight test something goes terribly wrong. His brother is lost and he is horribly burned. But he survived. But soon his life is in upheaval as he finds out secrets his friends, his brother and even his mother had kept from him. He must decide if he will help the group known as grounders. But all that changes when his city is sabotaged and crashed to the ground. And with that he is abandoned to the fog forest. And this is where things get even more interesting. Tic Tic Tic.
This book as mentioned was very hard to put down. In some ways it reminds me of reading Dune by Frank Herbert when I was much younger. And it is also reminiscent of some themes Robert A. Heinlein, especially Stanger in a Strange Land. Humans who want to leave earth and the veil we have done to one another, only to succumb to what we hate most. The masses deceived and fooled by a few for many, many years. And learning to accept the self through finally understanding the alien, and through that recognising the alien within us all.
The characters in this story are masterfully written, from Simon and Eliza to the nefarious Tal. The characters are one of this books greatest strengths. Another is the pace of the plot, the time travelling and learning. The discoveries and having to learn to accept and live with them. And I loved how the story was told back and forth, the first part of the book is Simon's story and then it is told back and forth from both Simon and Eliza or EK-TAAK-TOCK-TAAK, point of view.
Overall I cannot think of a single criticism of this book. The closest would maybe be that I wish it was written in such a way that the story would continue. This is wonderful read in a classic science fiction style and I wish I could give it more than 5 stars!
Books by James Bow:
The Unwritten Books:
The Unwritten Girl
The Young City
Animal Mysteries Revealed
Earth Mysteries Revealed
Space Mysteries Revealed
Lamborghini: Superstar Cars
Earth's Secrets: Invisible Worlds
Deep Space Extremes
Baseball: Sports Science
Cycling: Sports Science
Saving Endangered Plants and Animals: Science Solves It
Rescue Missions: Science Solves It