Title: Of Metal and Wishes
Author: Sarah Fine
Series: Of Metal and Wishes
Book #: 1
Reading Level: YA
Goodreads Rating: 4.11
Published: Aug. 5th, 2014
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.
The first thing that came to mind after finishing Of Metal and Wishes was "there better be a goddamn sequel!" and it seems there is. The story didn't end in a cliffhanger as it were but it did feel like there was still a story to tell, and what a story it is. Of Metal and Wishes is a combination of stories. It is Phantom of the Opera combined with an uprising story; kind of reminded me a bit of The Winner's Curse, and I loved The Winner's Curse.
"A month ago my life changed forever. Now, instead of living in a warm cottage with a lovely garden, I live on the factory compound. Instead of sitting in a kitchen and inhaling the arthy scent of stewing vegetables, I sit in a cafeteria and pick at starchy rice of thin soup shoveled from enormous vats. Instead of reading the classics, I read medical texts. Instead of the feather lightness of my mother's touch, I feel the dry, antiseptic rasp of my father's.Instead of embroidering silk, I embroider skin.I actually don't mind that part."Wen is the quiet doctor's assistant. She is soft, calm, smart, kind... She is a true lady just as her mother raised her to be. Then the Noor (the so called barbarians) come into Gochan One (the factory where she works at with her fellow Itanyai people) everybody is on edge about it. They are here taking their space, their hours, their money. Basically they are somewhere where they don't belong and where nobody welcomes them. One afternoon one of the Noor men act out, a boy. He trips Wen and turns up her skirt. Wen is embarrassed and this event only helps fuel her prejudices over the Noor. Her friend then tells her about the ghost that haunts the Gochan, and while Wen doesn't believe on Ghosts she sends out a challenge to this one; she tells him to prove himself. He will do so in the most horrible way, and Wen will be left to pick up the pieces. Wen is the only one who looks beyond the mere exterior of people, she treats the Noor with respect and actually admires their camaraderie. Which is what makes her the perfect friend for the infamous Ghost.
I admire Wen. She has a level head on her shoulders, and she isn't like her fellow Itanyai people. She doesn't instantly hate the Noor, even though the Noor guy embarrassed her in front of everybody. She quickly lets that go and adopts the attitude her father has- give everybody a chance and let them prove themselves to you. For that she deserves the reader's respect.
"You're lucky. I can't imagine what they would have done to you if they had the strength. Weren't you terrified?""No. I don't think everything we've been told about the Noor is true, Vic."She gapes at me. "One look at those barbarians tells me everything I need to know. What is wrong with you?""They're human beings," I snap. "Ans they take care of each other." More than the Itanyai do, I think.Vie rolls her eyes. "I take back what I said a minute ago. I think you're still feverish."The world Sarah Fine created was one with a lot of layers. Wen spends the entire novel peeling layers from herself--layers her mother left behind when she died. Wen is now less sheltered and quickly starts to learn how the world really works, and so peeling the layers of her innocence. The story itself has many layers. The world building was done beautifully, I feel like the story had so many parts to it which blended beautifully.
"He is so close, half man, half machine, and I think about what could have been for him. All that brilliance, shredded by the harshness of the factory, warped by loneliness. Underneath he is still a boy, one who craves a touch, a smile. So I smile."
"I see him, the parts that are whole and the parts that are shattered. He is human, he is a boy, he is evil and good fussed together. My Ghost. My rescuer. My enemy, my friend."There's the Ghost that plays the character of the Phantom. He is complicated, a real interesting interpretation of the Phantom of the Opera, only without the music and way less drama. More... intrigue, danger. The Ghost is brilliant, yet he is detached. He lives in his own world and doesn't like when anybody gets close; but Wen. Wen is the only one he will allow to get close because he has always wanted to meet her, to play along side her. I empathized with the Ghost, Sarah Fine did an amazing job of showing us how truly dangerous he is while still showing us his vulnerability. It would have been so easy to paint him as the monster, lay the blame on him, makes us hate him. But I never hated him. He is misguided but he has a conscious that redeems him.
"The older rust-head glances at me over Lati's shoulder. He has eerie, jade-colored eyes, and before he turns away, I note a spark of cleverness and comprehension in their pale depths that makes my stomach tighten."So there is something of a love triangle here, though I wouldn't call it that really. It is, and it isn't. The Ghost is of course into Wen, but Wen only has eyes for Melik, the Noor leader.
"He will insist they can pay for it, because he is proud. Because he does not know his place.I do not want him to know his place."Melik is strong and determines. Proud, a leader. He is educated but somehow ended up in the same boat as his fellow Noor, because in the eyes of the Itanyai all Noor are the same and they are not worth more than the scum under their shoes. You can say there is a healthy distrust between the races. Noor's are treated unfairly, charged more for the same necessities. Sold, bargained with. It is truly horrible, and Melik is there to protect them and be their translator. Not that he is treated better than any of them, he just is the leader. His relationship with Wen's is a sweet one, very tender. They stand up for each other, care for each other, it is really sweet. I am so rooting for them.
But Of Metal and Wishes is so much more than just about a teenage romance! It is about the relationship between a father and a daughter. It is about how workers are treated extremely unfairly in factory work, specially how the women are used and discarded. The most sickening thing was Wen's boss, mister Mugo. He has a thing for underage girls...
"He vacates the office and leaves me alone for the rest of the day. I am so very thankful, because I have just been handed another day of reprieve from these things he wants to teach me that I don't want to learn."The women at the factory have to walk a very straight, delicate line. Their bosses pretty much dictate how their lives are to turn out, and all they can hope for is to go unnoticed or get hitched with a respectable Itanyai man. Needless to say Mugo is the most disgusting man in the world. But it is another thing that just makes the setting of the novel that much more authentic, Sarah Fine doesn't distance her characters from the ugly side of life.
By the end all I wanted to learn about more was the world outside of the factory. I feel like I know pretty well that goes inside the walls, but what is going out outside? How are the other countries involved in this war? Do they care? Are the Noor really going to rebel? What will happen? Who will win?
I guess all of these are to be answered in the next installment. I hope the sequel comes along sooner rather than later, I can't wait! Until then let me check what else Sarah Fine has written, because after reading this one I need to get my hands on her other titles immediately!