This review contains spoilers about the first book in the Boneverse Series, UPDRAFT. Go read that before you read the review here!
Cloudbound is an adventurous tale that picks up a bit after the events in Updraft. We shift perspectives from Kirit, to Nat, who finds himself a rising voice in the post-Singer world. One of Cloudbound's greatest improvements over the series debut novel is that the pace picks up and Wilde dives right into many of the secrets from the first book, including what lies below the seemingly never ending clouds and the surface layers of Updrafts main players.
This novel takes a darker turn as the after effects of upsetting the world order start making themselves more visible. In the wake of the collapse of a central institution, various groups maneuver to take control of the city, trying to use Heroes of the events in the first book as pawns set against each other. But if a Machiavellian plot seems a bit dry, worry not, Wilde upsets the balance early and often, forcing the reader onto a back heel with anticipation. Wilde adroitly lays out the book’s themes here organically, never missing a beat in every scene. Her characters breathe, live and suffer in their own ways in Cloudbound, struggling to survive in a fully detailed world that feels real and lived in, one that the reader is lucky to observe. And as the novel descends into the thick of things many questions from the first book are answered in mind blowing fashion, while many new questions are hinted at in a way that makes the reader pine for the third book.
Especially when you learn what’s below the clouds. Oh dear. I won’t give anything away, but I will say that loose tongues ruin the most ardent of political ambitions.
Cloudbound pulls no punches in the fantastic third act, and the world-building seamlessly grounds the story in a meaty realism. Wilde is easily a contender for the top 5 best SFF writers of our era, earning her place alongside NK Jemisin and Nnedi Okafor. I cannot wait for Horizon, the next book in the Cloudbound Series.