cover image Of Metal and Wishes

Of Metal and Wishes

Sarah Fine. S&S/McElderry, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4424-8358-3

In contrast to dystopian novels with world-shaking stakes, Fine (the Guards of the Shadowlands series) focuses on a detailed microcosm within an unjust society. She centers her tale of forbidden love and social awakening on a single industrial complex, where brutal bosses control workers by keeping them permanently in debt. Sixteen-year-old Wen has recently come to live with her father, a doctor at the Gochan factories. There, Wen is subject to the constant threat of sexual coercion, especially when she wears the richly embroidered dresses that remind her of her late seamstress mother. Meanwhile, the factory is wracked with ethnic tension between Wen’s people, the East Asian–inspired Itanyai, and the Noor, despised migrant workers. Wen gradually sheds her prejudices after she inadvertently contributes to an accident involving a Noor worker and the Ghost, a Phantom of the Opera–like presence who grants the wishes of Gochan’s people in sometimes-horrific ways. Though the course of Wen’s enlightenment offers few surprises, Fine creates a memorable atmosphere of desperation, deftly weaving together numerous subplots that intersect in a grisly and satisfying climax. Ages 14–up. Agent: Kathleen Ortiz, New Leaf Literary and Media. (Aug.)