Cloudbound (Bone Universe book 2) by Fran Wilde (book review).

‘Cloudbound (Bone Universe book 2)’ by Fran Wilde follows on from ‘Updraft’, but with a different protagonist.

Nat Densira, Kirit’s lifelong friend and former neighbour, is an apprentice counsellor on the new council. He is helping to move society forward now that they are free from the singers’ rule. But politics are more complicated than Nat realises and he ends up making some wrong decisions. Can he help find a way to lead society in to better times? Can he repair the damage his mistakes have caused?

As much as this book is a sequel, it follows Nat instead of Kirit, so you get a different perspective on their world. I found Nat irritating to begin with because he is quite naive and not particularly adept at thinking through the implications of his actions and understanding other peoples’ circumstances and perspectives.

For example, he spends a good portion of the first few chapters internally moaning about why Kirit hasn’t joined the council and why she’s chosen to go and live with singers who are sent down the tower, rather than accept a council position. That said, he does gradually start to understand how the singers are being treated, what Kirit is doing to support them and the practical implications of policies against the singers that he thought were a good idea, that are actually having a detrimental impact on their well being.

However, despite this, I do think this story works best from Nat’s perspective, because he goes on a journey of realising his privilege and how prejudice against the singers is having an impact on their ability to live. In terms of plot, I think this is a great direction in which to take the series, because it really breaks down politics and how prejudice can impact on the treatment of certain groups.

Another thing that keeps this book interesting and engaging is the expansion of the cast of characters. We meet some interesting new characters, who make the story engaging. I feel that the characters could be better developed, but I feel that ‘Cloudbound’ is stronger than ‘Updraft’ in this respect.

Many characters are also killed, which I think is good because that’s what would realistically happen in this world. Wilde is certainly not afraid to kill characters. There are a couple of characters who I think it would have been better for the story if she hadn’t killed them so soon.

The world expands significantly in this story, because they end up having to explore the clouds, which is fascinating. The expansions of the world were very well developed, as is the case with world in general. We get a lot more information in this book about how the world came to be the way it is and it is extremely fascinating. As with the last book, there are some well developed little details, particularly from an accessibility perspective.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and felt it was better than the first book. Definitely worth a read if you enjoyed the first one and worth a try if you thought the first one was okay.

Rebecca Thorne

April 2019

(pub: TOR, 2017. 398 page hardback. Price: $19.99 (US), £12.70 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-76537-785-2)

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