**Warning: Spoilers May ABound**
Of Metal and Wishes, Sarah Fine
There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.
Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her … for a very long time.
As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it.(source:goodreads)
Narrative-This book is told from in the first person POV from the perspective of Wen. While reading, I will honestly say that the voice wasn't bad. I could hear Wen's age (sixteen) in the sentence structures and word choices, and the way descriptions and details were used really reflected Wen's own outlook on life. What I mean by this is: there's incredible detail when describing a set of dresses, for example, because her mother was a seamstress and she was admiring her mother's skill. In contrast, there's less description of the other clothes seen worn around the factory, and while part of this stems from the lack of clothing options for the other characters, I still felt a strong sense of Wen's version of beautiful through what was chosen to be described, and what only got a passing glance. Am I looking too far into this? Well, probably then again, I am an English major); although, it is something that stood out to me and it stood out well. So that's where I'm leaving that.
So, overall, I really liked the way the narrative was styled to reflect Wen's personality so well. Occasionally I felt it was a bit too simple for my personal tastes, but it was one of those books where I eventually got so lost in the plot that the narrative didn't jar me too much.
Plot-Before picking this book up, I'd heard most prominently references to how it's basically a retelling of Phantom of the Opera. Truth be told, this meant nothing to me since I've only ever seen about a fourth of the movie version. Other good things I'd heard: it's just overall wonderful. So when I finally picked it up to read I had some pretty high expectations.
Wen's living with her father, a doctor getting paid next to nothing by being a physician for the factory. One day, a group of men from a neighboring state (these men are the Noor) come in, lured by the promise of paid jobs, and this creates problem number one: nobody on Wen's side of the lines like the Noor. A rather awful mishap occurs, and Wen makes a wish to the Ghost of the factory, whom she doesn't necessarily believe in.
Until the wish is granted.
From there, it's a roller-coaster of happenings: trying to figure out who the ghost is, caring for not only the sick of the factory but those who get into terrible accidents, dodging the Underboss who has a rather disgusting appetite for young girls, keeping out of the way of some rather horrifying mechanical spiders, and trying to create a relationship with a boy that nobody approves of thanks to merciless rumors.
It's honestly a wonderful love story. This aspect was my favorite part: Wen getting close to Melik and slowly falling into love with him, and also the relationship she has with the Ghost, which is a struggle to keep strictly friendly since the Ghost is a rather interesting character in himself. Trying to figure out who Wen would go with--Melik, because she has actual feelings for him, despite the dangers of being associated with him; or the Ghost, because while she has no romantic feelings for him he has a way to keep her safe--was a bit of a fun puzzle because, really, both characters had their ups and downs. Watching Wen also try to survive the factory and the people working in the factory was also interesting, since the ideas of good and bad are totally flip-flopped thanks to the myths about the Noor that circulate among Wen's circles.
So, overall: yes, I liked the plot. It was whimsical and spoke to that part of me that just loves a good romance, especially when it's done right.
However. By about halfway through the book, certain events became expected. Every time Wen went to visit the Ghost, she was attacked by the security system (every time); every time Wen was left alone with the Noor they had a great time; every time Wen was left alone with anyone from her own people there was vileness. The threat of sexual assault was there so often that it was predictable, and while I understand that in this kind of setting it's an extremely relevant threat, it got old having every guy threaten and/or attempt to harm Wen in a rather invasive and sexual way. It made me uncomfortable, sure; the ideas of how close a man and woman can get, physically, also seemed to be a prevalent theme in the setting of the novel.
I guess I just wish that there were other threats also evoked? I don't know; at this point I'm still trying to figure out some other way that some of these scenes could have happened. I'm just going with: some events happened so often that it became a bit too predictable for my liking.
Characters-The three main characters in this book are Wen, Melik, and the Ghost (whose name is Bo, but I like referring to him as the Ghost because it's just so ominous).
Wen is a pretty average girl. I appreciated her ability to accept her lot in life: after her mother's death she had to go live with her father in the factory, and becoming a seamstress like her mother went out the window and even going to medical school wasn't going to happen. While there were parts of her that really wished she could go, she was also practical: it wasn't going to happen. Despite this, she wasn't resentful; her resentment toward her father instead came from direct events that happened in the novel that, really, would make anyone angry. She was very well tempered, mild-mannered when she need to be, and at least attempted to act appropriately depending on who she was around.
Melik is the Noor she falls in love with, and he is so perfect in every way. While his culture allows for physical touch between people no matter their relationship, he is extremely respectful of Wen, a fact that won me over. He's sweet, will do anything to protect his people, and isn't afraid to stand up for what he believes in, which gets him in a lot of trouble considering nobody belonging to Wen's culture likes him.
On the other hand is the Ghost, a quiet and lonely soul to traverses behind by the walls of the factory. What I like about him is his childlike personality, not in the sense in finding wonders everywhere he looks but in his mentality, as if he really doesn't know the difference between right and wrong too well. Like Melik, he won't hesitate to act on his emotions, only his actions tend to be a lot more violent and results in a lot more blood.
What I felt was fantastic was the way in which Melik and the Ghost were presented as so different, and yet extremely the same in some ways, which made their actions so much more meaningful. Their constant juxtaposition was a bit of fun for me, to see how they both act and react as their affection for Wen grows.
I did have a problem with the outside characters, though, and it resulted almost in the same kind of pattern as I noticed in my section on the plot: after a certain page, everyone on certain sides started looking the same. All of the Noor were misunderstood foreigners who were actually extremely civil and fantastic, all of Wen's people were basically vile bastards, and Wen, her father, Melik, and the Ghost were caught in the middle. Everyone who wasn't a major character had the same basic personalities, and I really wished that at least a few of them had been fleshed out a little more (which could have helped solve the problem that plagued me in the plot).
Final Answer: 3.5 / 5
Of course, I recommend this book. Like I said, the romance part of it really got to that mushy part of me that I occasionally pretend doesn't exist, and I wound up reading it cover-to-cover within a few days (which is impressive since I only have a month left of this semester which means work is starting to take over my life). Read this book, love it, and look out for the sequel coming next year.
@Rae_Slater talks OF METAL AND WISHES @finesarah and gives it 3.5 / 5 stars. Read the review (Click to Tweet)
OF METAL AND WISHES @finesarah does romance right with main characters to die for. Read the review via @Rae_Slater (Click to Tweet)