Wren is a ‘normal’ 17 year old with a dysfunctional family and a big secret. Not only is she gay, she has developed sky-blue wings. Just before her graduation and 18th birthday she receives a letter from her long departed father and the adventure begins. She is not only not of this world; she is destined to save it and her home-world from the Winged Red.
This is a fast paced and at times confusing fantasy. The world creation is excellent, the world hopping feasible, and the antagonism between two halves of a world divided into red and blue is somehow believable despite being extremely stereotyped and never explained.
However, the plot is overly complex. Wren bounces back and forward between where she is, what she looks like and both who she believes and who she if about to fight for, far too often for credibility. She desperately missed her dad and almost worships him when they are reunited, in an understandable way, only to believe in an instant that everything is a lie and everyone is deceiving her. Similarly she instantly adores Sia, the lovely woman sent to teach her to fly, but completely besotted by the looks of the evil Ember the first time they meet.
I liked the concept, its well written, some of the characters are great and many if the familial relationships are well developed. But it’s just too complex to make sense. Why the red and blue at war seems fundamental to justify the whole plot. We never do find out why Wrens father left. And while trying hard not to give away the ending, a war that has been built up into ‘the end of times’ suddenly stops after we witness painful and brutal deaths, over for no more obvious reason that it started.
It sort of works, and it feels like part of the problem is trying to be a growing up story, a fantasy, an action adventure and a romance all in one. There is just too much angst and too much contradiction to give any sense of a consistent story line. Interestingly it isn’t the fantasy that overwhelms the suspension of disbelief, it is the inconsistency of an 18 year old girl.
And that’s my final observation. This is a YA book, NA at most. It might be YA/Fantasy with a light romance (no fading necessary) but it’s current classification as Lesbian Romance first and Fantasy second is misleading to say the least. The only justification for Wren’s behaviour is her immaturity in the face of overwhelming change, without that her actions make even less sense than they do.
(publisher review copy received)
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