Series: Of Metal and Wishes #1
Genres: Dystopia, Historical, Steampunk, Young Adult
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on August 5, 2014
Reviewed by: Julia
Attempted rape, references to sex.
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.
OF METAL AND WISHES hits that perfect blend of interesting world building, real characters, and romantic danger. Reminiscent of The Phantom of the Opera and THE HUNGER GAMES, these familiar components click together to create an altogether different dynamic. I couldn't get this story out of my head until the very last page, and now I daydream about what comes next.
Mixing realism with fantasy in a perfect blend, OF METAL AND WISHES contains culture clashes that could be found in our own history with an utterly original bleak, industrialized world. Wen too is a well-written teenager, with elements of drama and misunderstanding leavened by strength, courage, and a willingness to grow. She alternately treads close to Mary Sue and unredeemable, but never tips either extreme to the point where I would lose sympathy for her. Through grief and romance and danger, I was always invested in her next move. Even the romantic elements, tuned to such a dramatic story as The Phantom, take a more nuanced and sympathetic path. Despite the desires and expectations of so many men around her, Wen finds her own way.
The downside of realistic dystopias, however, is that even a happy ending doesn't wash away the political and societal dangers surrounding characters. OF METAL AND WISHES offers a satisfying, short-term standalone, but true happiness waits behind momentous events in future books. Wen is a well-equipped to face this future, however, and I can't wait to read along with her.