The city is dying. But those still living on the bone towers have no idea how much danger they’re in, because they haven’t seen what Kirit, Nat, Wik, and Ciel have seen. So many questions are answered, and not necessarily in the ways you’d expect. If you haven’t read book 2 CLOUDBOUND, then anything I say here about the final book HORIZON will be spoilers. Consider yourself warned.
In CLOUDBOUND the politics of the city comes to the forefront as the Spire begins to die–and Singer, blackwing, and tower factions fight for resources, power, and the hearts of the city’s citizens. In HORIZON it becomes a race for survival. After a terrifying close call where the city is almost killed by another city, Kirit and Wik take off across the desert, despite its perilous terrain and traps, in order to find a new place for the city’s inhabitants to settle. Nat and Ciel climb back through the clouds to warn the others and try to convince them to come to ground. Of course, nothing goes to plan and it’s a long, hard slog before anything starts to happen.
When I say “long, hard slog” I mean for our poor characters, who have to suffer some deprivation, humiliation, and serious frustration before they begin to see the fruits of their labors. Wilde has a story to tell about the reality of the situation our heroes find themselves in, as well as the painful repercussions of decisions made long before this final book of the trilogy–often the pasts of characters haunt them.
UPDRAFT was told from Kirit’s PoV, and CLOUDBOUND from Nat’s; here in HORIZON there are three PoVs: Nat, Kirit, and Macal. They all have different roles to play in the city’s evacuation, so while we don’t get the consistency of one PoV narrator, we’re used to Nat and Kirit, and it helps to know all the factors involved in our heroes finding a new home for the citizens of this dying city. We get to know Macal better (Wik’s brother) who is the leader of one of the city’s towers. He takes it upon himself to unite the city, find out what he needs to know to make the best decisions he can, and then act as the leader he is to see it done. Sometimes his chapters got bogged down in boring details when I wanted to get to the action, especially that of Kirit’s experiences as she explores outside the city. As a result of reading all the details about evacuating a city in the clouds the pacing of the novel fluctuated, but the rotating PoVs mostly fixed what could have been a problem.
Other characters show their mettle when it comes to hard times, while others lose their ability to cope. Wilde does a good job keeping even the secondary characters relatable, as well as their behavior believable–even those who can act like the villains. It was especially interesting to see how reliant the citizens are on flying and wind, and how the idea of being without it causes panic and fear. Which makes sense considering how their entire lives revolved around being able to fly, enough that it is such an integral part of who they understand themselves to be.
The most interesting part, as in books past, is the fascinating world Wilde has created. A city in the clouds on bones–grown from a gigantic, living creature! Strange birds and other flying creatures, and once on the ground we learn about ground creatures, the eggs the cities come from, and the ways the people from another city cope with the problems inherent from living on a giant living thing that moves. Since it’s a YA book there are a few things that are simplified (not exactly sure how they ate or drank in all their exploring and moving around), the mechanical stuff while explained was a still a little confusing, and other human behaviors. But all in all, this is a YA series worth reading because it takes readers to a completely different place than any they’ve seen before, to a world where people believe flying is life itself, and how sometimes even when change is hard it’s not necessarily going to become something worse.
Recommended Age: 12+
Language: One minor instance
Violence: Fighting, blood, death, a little more than the previous ones, but nothing particularly gruesome