Shane Smithers and Alex Smithers, Wraith, Magabala Books, July 2018, 462 pp., $14.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9781925360950
James can fly, it’s the landings that are the problem. Then one day James flies too high and crash lands in a place he never knew existed — the cloud city of Nebulosity. There he discovers an entire different species of human who are more technologically advanced, but also learns that their amazing city is under threat from severe climate change. He then meets Auerole who convinces him that the only hope to save Nebulosity is to find a missing piece of technology, the SAFFIRE. The two soon find themselves on a quest for the SAFFIRE, but in doing so they uncover a bigger intrigue that involves both their families and all four human races.
There is a lot to like about Wraith an Australian YA novel, co-authored by Shane Smithers and Alexandra Smithers and the first in a planned trilogy. The fantasy and world building is wonderful, and I love the concept behind the different human species and how they are made plausible. The high-tech gadgetry peppered throughout is also well thought-out and fascinating, and another aspect of the book I enjoyed. I also very much appreciated and respected the sensitive and appropriate inclusion of Australian Indigenous culture. It gave this book a different Australian feel to the YA books I usually read.
My only real negative was that in general, I found the pace of the book a little sluggish, specifically, the action scenes and the scenes with the antagonists. But this may have more to do with personal taste rather than a significant flaw of the novel because there are also a number of twists and turns to keep readers guessing and also some interesting concepts and ideas to prompt them on.
This is a book that would appeal to teens aged eleven to fourteen. It falls on the younger side of young adult fiction and fills that nook between upper-middle-grade and traditional YA.
A intriguing, imaginative story, Wraith will be enjoyed by kids who enjoy fantasy, action-adventure and speculative fiction.
Reviewed by Renee Mihulka