Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Title: Of Metal and Wishes
Author: Sarah Fine
Series: Of Metal and Wishes, book #1
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Source: signed ARC received from author
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.

Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her … for a very long time.

As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it.



"I wish I could talk to him about what I've done, but I don't want him to know. I am alone in this, as I am alone in so much else. It is a crushing feeling with no corners and no edges. Endless and uncontainable. The Ghost seems to understand this feeling."
If you've seen my Review in a GIFfy feature, you know that the first book I ever reviewed in this fashion was Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine. (That review can be found here.) And with good reason, since so much of the story warrants such strong reactionary GIFs. But there's also a beautiful subtlety to Fine's storytelling method, full of vivid imagery but also those small things that niggle at your subconscious until you can no longer ignore them.

This book felt like so many things in one. First and foremost, it's a love story...and a doomed one at that. The setting and characters lend themselves to an Asian culture set somewhere in the somewhat recent past, but this isn't really a historical fiction novel. There are mechanical elements that are reminiscent of a steampunk novel, but that's not the focus of this story, either. One thing I do know, though, is that Of Metal and Wishes is a retelling of a timeless masterpiece, and it is beautifully told.

I loved how this story stayed with me, how even though I didn't know it was supposed to be a Phantom of the Opera retelling until I was already knee-deep in it, the hints of that familiar story were already ruminating in my brain, pushing me to read further, figure out who the Ghost was and what he wanted with Wen. And even though I did have my theories pan out, it made the story no less captivating to know what Wen was up against. In fact, knowing only urged me to plunge deeper into the story to discover the hows and whys of it all. And it all boils down to a little thing called social injustice.

A little background: Wen's family was of a nobler class before they fell on hard times. Wen's father is now the on-staff doctor at the local slaughterhouse. They live on-site in the medical quarters, and Wen's now of the age that she must consider her own occupational options. Basically, she's a sad, lonely young woman with little hope for a happier existence, and now that she's made an impulsive request of the Ghost, she's encompassed in guilt. Melik is a Noor, a group of downtrodden people who stand out as different because of their appearance but also because they are the cheap labor shipped in to work in the factory. They are not respected and they have little to no rights. As such, neither Wen nor Melik would normally have any contact with the other, save for the altercation in the cafeteria that sets off an avalanche of events that continually put them in each other's company. Their initial interactions are rocky at best, but before long, the pair begin to gradually trust one another...though not without reservations.

I usually try not to become overly infatuated with the romance in a story, instead hoping that the story can stand on its own without the love story to back it up, but for this novel, I've made an exception. Okay, maybe that's the wrong word because this story does hold its own without the romantic interludes between Wen and Melik. However, I really liked what was developing between those two, and I can't deny that it also pressed me to read on. The romance not only relies on the characters and their feelings but also on their part in society. Social injustices and peer opinions play a big role in Wen and Melik's potential relationship, and it's because of these things -- and the Ghost, can't forget him and his meddling -- that their relationship almost doesn't come to fruition. But it's everything leading up to their eventual coming together that makes their romance all the more precious: Melik defending Wen from his fellow Noor, Wen mending Melik during illness and injury, and on and on, despite their difference in class. And amidst everything they're already facing, they also have to confront their own prejudices against each other.

Just as Melik feels protective of Wen, Wen deems it necessary to stand up for the Noor, whom she grievously misjudged. She is compassionate toward the Noor when no one else is. But the Ghost, hiding in the shadows, is exacting his own brand of vengeance by way of granting wishes left for him on an altar by those in need...or those who have been wronged. He, too, feels the need to protect Wen, and it's through his wish granting and involvement in the daily lives of the factory workers that we begin to discover who or what he really is. As the mystery unravels, the Ghost's existence becomes less creepy and more sad with the realization of his existence.

And that pretty much sets the tone for the novel, which ends on a very bittersweet note. (Which is fine, since the author announced there will be a sequel.) This novel was truly exquisite: the writing was fluid, the mystery was solid, and the story itself was haunting and beautiful. I can't wait to see where the next chapter takes these characters.
"Wen always has medicine."
GIF it to me straight:
That's me to this book.




About the author:

I’m the author of the Guards of the Shadowlands urban fantasy series (Skyscape/Amazon Children’s Publishing), including Sanctum (October 2012) and Fractured (October 2013). My gothic young adult novel Of Metal and Wishes will be published by McElderry/Simon & Schuster in August 2014. In May 2014, Putnam/Penguin will publish Scan, the first of two thrillers I co-authored with Walter Jury under the name S. E. Fine. When I’m not writing, I’m psychologizing. Sometimes I do both at the same time. The results are unpredictable.

Find Sarah:

Website | Twitter | FacebookGoodreads | Tumblr


25 comments:

  1. oh wow wow wow! what a raving review. I am really interested in this book but i'm wary of the steampunk elements. However Wen sounds like a good protagonist and the romance seems great. Especially since you loved it so much! great review

    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

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    1. The steampunk elements aren't to prevalent, honestly. I just wanted to exemplify how many things this book was. I'm not the biggest steampunk fan, and I didn't mind it.

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  2. Ohhh, this sounds so so good! And it's a retelling? I probably absolutely need it. Although I kept looking at the name "Wen" and wanting to put a H in there. hehe. I'll hopefully get over that. Beautiful writing, though? I'm so in.

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    1. You do absolutely need it. :) I've been doing that with odd character names lately, too. Funny. But, yes, terribly beautiful writing. And if you like this, you should definitely check out her other books. Big fan right here. :)

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  3. I had no interest in this book until I saw your giffy review. That's where i saw that its a retelling of Phantom of the Opera. Being a chorus geek in school, I always loved musicals and that is my favorite one. For Christmas one year, my gram took me to NYC to see it on broadway. it was amazing.

    I really want to read this book now. :)

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    1. See, that's why I wanted to do those. :) Some people don't like reading reviews or just give them a cursory glance, but people love GIFs. And that's so cool! I've never seen a Broadway musical. :(

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  4. What a beautiful review, Jen. I'll be reading this book on Saturday with a friend and I'm just beyond excited after reading your review. I already knew that Fine has a gorgeous writing, but your review makes it sound even more gorgeous. I definitely can't wait to experience it all over again. I love how this is so much more than just a romance and also tackles social issues. I'm so happy you loved it! :)

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    1. Oh, this would have been great as a buddy read. I just didn't know very many people who had such early interest in it as me. :( If you're already a fan of Sarah's writing, I think you'll definitely enjoy this one.

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  5. I ADORE Phantom of the Opera, so Of Metal and Wishes sounds like it's right up my alley! Thanks for the gorgeous review, Jen. You painted such an incredible picture of the book I'm absolutely salivating for it now. ;)

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    1. Yay! I aim to please. And I also aim to make you salivate for awesome new reads! :D Hope you love it, Gin!

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  6. I actually haven't heard much about this around the blogosphere but it sounds like such a wonderful book! And that cover is beautiful! I can't wait to read it. Great review! :)

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    1. I know...I'm kind of sad it's not getting more promotion because it's so lovely. And the author is so talented! I hope you get a chance to read it soon and that it is just as wonderful for you.

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  7. This sounds amazing! I'm a little nervous that this is actually a series - I was hoping for a stand alone - but I can't wait to read it. You've gotten me excited about the romance, especially. You know how much I love love stories. :) Great review, Jen!

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    1. Don't be nervous. You'll want more when you get to the end. ;0) I always hope for more stand-alones because I've gotten really behind in my series, but what are you gonna do, right?

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  8. Ahhhh! I want no NEED this book. After seeing your GIFy review I wanted it but now even more. Come on release date get here so I can read it! Know that after or during my reading of this book I'll be messaging you either on Twitter or GR...you've been warned.

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    1. You DO need this book, Kristen. :) And I fully expect a long-winded discussion of the book. Can't wait!

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  9. I think this is one of the top ten books for this year that I will eat ramen all week to be able to buy it, and now I am about to have a meltdown over the anticipation.

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    1. Haha...I hate ramen, and I'd still think the sacrifice worth it for this book. Hope you love it!

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  10. I scanned your review super fast because I'm reading this right now. But you are right. It's SO good. And I didn't know that it was a Phantom retelling but that makes total sense.
    Jen @ YA Romantics

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    1. Doesn't it? I love how it's not in your face that that's what it is. So good. SO GOOD. :)

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  11. I'm reading this soon! Glad to hear that you loved the romance. I'm worried about the ending, but happy there's a sequel to continue the story.

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    1. Once I learned there'd be a sequel, the ending was okay. Before that, it was just TOO open for my liking. ;)

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