In the city of Aramanth, the mantra is, "Better today than yesterday. Better tomorrow than today." Harder work means the citizens of Aramanth can keep moving forward to improved life stations--from Gray tenements and Orange apartments, upwards to glorious mansions of White. Only some families, like the Haths, believe more in ideas and dreams than in endless toil and ratings. When Kestrel Hath decides she is through with the Aramanth work ethic, she is joined in her small rebellion by her twin brother Bowman and their friend Mumpo. Together, they set the orderly city on its ear by escaping Aramanth's walls for an adventure that takes them from city sewers to desert sandstorms. Guided by an archaic map, they know that if they can find the voice of the Wind Singer, an ancient and mysterious instrument that stands in the center of Aramanth, they can save their people from their dreamless existence. But the voice is guarded by the dreaded Morah and its legion of perfect killing machines, the Zars. Are three ragtag kids any match for an army of darkness?
Another series from my childhood is Nicholson's Wind on Fire series. I devoured all three books like it was nothing. They were full of action and mystery, and actually had a lot of moral messages in there as well, which is usually only found in children's books. And I love books like that.
I really enjoyed the world building. It was a mix of a lot of things we know and knew, used to have and then discarded. It was a little Ancient Greek, but it also had (colored) casts. It was a colorful mix of great things, and I wanted to be part of the world very much, despite it being rather glum. It wasn't good, in fact, the main characters' family had it pretty bad throughout the series, but the writing was so colorful and interesting I was mesmerized by it all.
The book was not just fantasy but also dystopian. There was this corrupt, broken world, where rich prospered and poor people feel even deeper. There used to be glory but now all was breaking apart. It valued tests above it all, proving being best over one another instead of working together, caring for a fellow human. It was really barely humane at all. There was also no unrest or rebellion, until our heroes did the unspeakable and left.
It was fairly typical where a band of kids set out to save the world again - typical because there's usually kids that set out for an adventure. I enjoyed that part as well. It was intriguing, and dangerous. There were so many dangers and twists and gasping moments I just couldn't turn away. I was afraid and happy along with the trio, and I worried about them as well.
I really loved the main characters. I was in that era where I wished I had a twin brother myself for some reason, so this book was like a dream to me. I was there with these twins on this adventure, so I really connected to them both. They were brave and daring, and they had a great sense of what was right and wrong. Kestrel was a little tomboyish, too, which made her even more relatable to me. You really get to care for the people you read about.
The plot was very gripping as well. It took us on an adventure that taught us many lessons, and that kind of thing can be very positive for children to read about. It was about love and sacrifice, about how important is to be brave, kind, and how you have to work together to achieve good, how you can help a fellow human instead of compete with one. It's an old theme to pass on but it never dies out because it's always important to teach these things.
It was also a little out of the Middle Grade/YA fantasy mold. For one, Kestrel and Bowman aren't orphans. In fact, they also have a baby sister and two loving parents. Their family is very close, supportive, and active as well. The parents are involved in the adventure as well in a way, and they also do their own things to change the world, or try to. They support the twins in their ideas which you don't see very often.
It's not a magical marvel and it doesn't blow you away. It's very simple at times and even the characters can be super plain. But there's this magic in it that hugs you tight and doesn't let you go. It's engaging and gripping, and it's a fun and terrible adventure at the same time. It has heroes and villains, and great messages. It's probably more suitable for kids but I will reread it again, because books like this stay with you forever.