Series: Of Metal and Wishes #2
Publication Date: August 5, 2015
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 288 (ARC)
Source: From Author for Review
War erupts in this bittersweet sequel to Of Metal and Wishes, inspired by The Phantom of the Opera and called “relentlessly engrossing” by The Romantic Times.
In the year since the collapse of the slaughterhouse where Wen worked as her father’s medical assistant, she’s held all her secrets close. She works in the clinic at the weapons factory and sneaks away to nurse Bo, once the Ghost, now a boy determined to transform himself into a living machine. Their strange, fragile friendship soothes some of the ache of missing Melik, the strong-willed Noor who walked away from Wen all those months ago—but it can’t quell her fears for him.
The Noor are waging a rebellion in the west. When she overhears plans to crush Melik’s people with the powerful war machines created at the factory, Wen makes the painful decision to leave behind all she has known—including Bo—to warn them. But the farther she journeys into the warzone, the more confusing things become. A year of brutality seems to have changed Melik, and Wen has a decision to make about him and his people: How much is she willing to sacrifice to save them from complete annihilation?
I have been sitting on this review for MONTHS! Literally months. Why? I just don't want to say goodbye to this diverse, amazing world rich with diversity and characters worth rooting for. Alas, the time has come that I just accept the fact that this story is done, bite back my anxiety, and roll with it.
I guess the reason that I am so anxious is because this book can only be described as bittersweet. I like the actual ending of the series. It gives me hope for certain character's futures, but this book did a huge number on my heart. It shredded it, pasted it back together, ripped it back out of my chest, and stomped on it repeatedly. Yet somehow it just kept beating thanks to that ending. But, boy, was there a whole lot of hurt to get there. My heart hurts just thinking about it again.
One of the things that I like about this novel is that it doesn't pick up immediately where book one left off. It picks up about a year later, which allowed our characters to grow, take on new personas and create new goals, all while pondering what is happening to each other. Melik and his fellow Noor have left and are continuing to rebel while Wen continues working with her father. When informed about the war, she makes the decision to warn the Noor because she never forgot Melik and sets out on a dangerous journey that almost gets her killed numerous times. But, hey, the girl has guts because she follows her heart.
That's another thing I love about this story: Wen. She's a character worth rooting for. She is emotionally and intellectual strong and loyal to the core. A warrior in her own right, though a different kind than the Noor warriors that we are hearing so much about. She is willing to do what is right, even if the journey is hard. She thinks for herself instead of buying into false propaganda and comes to her own assumptions. And, as a lover of diverse novels, I love the fact that she is ethnically not the typical main character you come across as a young adult reader. On the other side is Melik. I never thought it would be possible to hate Melik, but war hardens a person. Deep down, Melik is still Melik and will always be the Noor warrior that I fell in love with in book one, but he is a hardened, more complicated version of the boy I met a year ago. In the year between the books releasing and a year between the timeline of events, he has transformed from a boy into a man. But this man still loves Wen, even if he has weird ways of showing it. Again, a romance to root for, even though it's damn hard to at times. But I'll take a romance that makes me ache over a love triangle every day.
In regards to other characters, especially Bo--our phantom ghost so desperate to become a machine--the growth is astronomical. The character arcs executed in this book were crazy. On all fronts. Secondary characters that were overlooked in the past shine for wartime sacrifices, characters show their true colors, strength is found in places you never thought it would exist. Just wow...this cast of characters is so well done, which is why I hurt so much. Any book with war is bound to break your heart, but it hurts even more when the characters are so properly fleshed out that it's like a small piece of your reading soul dedicated to this story just died along with them.
The last thing worth noting is the diversity. While I mentioned this before, Fine explores both Wen and Melik's culture even more in this book and I loved that. She weaved these imagined worlds so well that I almost thought they were real. With their Asian influences, I found myself fascinated by every little new fact I learned, especially when both cultures differentiate. And, well, they differ a lot since they're at war.
Honestly, I don't even know if this review made sense because I loved this book so much. But if it doesn't that's kind of perfect because that's how this book makes me feel: scatterbrained and over-emotional. Thank you, Sarah, for giving me yet another story I love. You know I'll follow your works to the moon and back.
FTC Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review and no other compensation of any kind.