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WIRE WINGS by Wren Handman

Graciela does as she’s told: she cowers beneath the towering intellect of her parents, goes to school, toes the line. But in the Waves, a virtual reality world, Graciela can be anyone, anywhere, anytime. Free.

In the real world, Graciela is drowning. Her best friend recently passed away, she’s suffering from crippling panic attacks, and her only connection to life is Khaiam, who keeps trying to draw her back to reality.

But how can he compete with the Waves? There, she can be whoever she dreams. And in that world, there’s Thomas, the stunning stranger with haunted eyes she’s only ever met online. Thomas seems to be able to defy the rules of the Waves, and he holds secrets of his own—about the origins of his creation, the nature of AI, and about Gracie’s own past. He will lead her on a dangerous road to truths she isn’t ready for, and the ultimate decision between acceptance and identity, duty and love, life and freedom.

Title : Wire Wings
Author : Wren Handman
Format : eARC
Page Count : 284
Genre : YA sci-fi/fantasy
Publisher : Parliament House Press
Release Date : June 23, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5

Hollis’ 4.5 star review

WIRE WINGS is a compelling story about grief; about the gaping holes left by the lose of someone you loved. It’s about escapism; pushing aside your real-world worries, and leaving reality behind. It’s about identity; the masks we choose for ourselves, and the core of us beneath them all. It’s about love; the awkwardness of friendships that existed because of other people, the complicated dynamics of parent and child, and the purity of connection that reaches down past your skin and into the truth of you and being accepted for it.

[..] sometimes she wonders what makes a person real.

This story takes place in the not-so-distant future and Handman’s world mostly resembles our own but the world she’s created in the Waves, this VR-esque experience, is like nothing else. Calling them games doesn’t do them justice, but the experiences, everything, are vivid and fascinating and a stark change in pace from Graciela’s every day existence where she’s barely getting by, barely able to breathe, and feeling overlooked and lost.

WIRE WINGS is equal parts exciting and colourful as well as heartbreaking and tragic. There is such beauty in the prose, mirrored in all the worlds we flit in and out of, but that ache of loss and devastation is never truly gone and resonates both viscerally and also subtlely throughout. It’s reaching for the hand that isn’t there. Walking into rooms that were once filled with laughter. In the friendships held together by a body that no longer takes up any space. It’s in the bloom of a romance that can’t be shared with the one you most want to tell. The name you can barely speak for choking on the syllables. But most of all, it’s in the acknowledgement of their memory when you find moments of happiness and not flincing away from it or feeling guilty.

This story is brilliant, bittersweet, and beautiful, and I think you should read it.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

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