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The Wind Singer

Title: The Wind Singer
Author: William Nicholson
Series: Wind on Fire (#1)
Genre: Junior Fiction, Adventure, Fantasy
Publisher: Mammoth
Release Date: 01/01/2002
Format: Paperback
Links: Goodreads, Author's Website
Purchase: Booktopia, Book Depository, Angus & Robertson

In the city of Aramanth, the mantra is, "Better today than yesterday. Better tomorrow than today." Harder work means the citizens of Aramanth can keep moving forward to improved life stations--from Gray tenements and Orange apartments, upwards to glorious mansions of White. Only some families, like the Haths, believe more in ideas and dreams than in endless toil and ratings.

When Kestrel Hath decides she is through with the Aramanth work ethic, she is joined in her small rebellion by her twin brother Bowman and their friend Mumpo. Together, they set the orderly city on its ear by escaping Aramanth's walls for an adventure that takes them from city sewers to desert sandstorms. Guided by an archaic map, they know that if they can find the voice of the Wind Singer, an ancient and mysterious instrument that stands in the center of Aramanth, they can save their people from their dreamless existence.

But the voice is guarded by the dreaded Morah and its legion of perfect killing machines, the Zars. Are three ragtag kids any match for an army of darkness?

The Wind Singer is a children's book full of adventure, fantasy, and reminders of the importance of family. It has all the hallmarks of great children's adventure fantasy - a familiar story arc, relatable characters, and easy to read language for young readers. 

Unfortunately, to me it isn't a book that will continue to capture your imagination for years to come, except as a fond childhood memory.

The story follows Kestral and Bo Hath, who are twins with a telepathic link. Now, whether or not this link is special or unique I'm not sure, as it's never really addressed. The twins live with their mother, father and baby sister in a city where families have ratings based on their overall performance in day to day activities and tests. A families ranking determines where they live, what sort of jobs they have, and the colours they wear.

Through a course of events started by a large-scale tantrum Kestral throws about tests and ranking, the twins and their districts worst ranking child go on an adventure to acquire a talisman that will rid them of tests once and for all.

I found Kestral to be very superficial - a bratty, hot headed tween with no real substance. While Bo seemed to have a little more depth, it wasn't much. In fact, the character who had the most potential and developed quite well throughout the book, was Mumpo. Mumpo is an orphan child who manages to stay in the orange district thanks to his anonymous Uncle. The universal agreement seems to be that he's a runny nosed, stupid annoying boy - except that's not all he is, and by the end of the book he is the character that has grown most as a person. Kestral and Bo, and the rest of their family? Not so much.

It didn't help the characters case that the book is definitely more show than tell, with the characters appearing every now and then when it needed a bit of a push.

Overall, it was a relatively entertaining story that I'm sure younger readers will love. I do wish there had been more character development and some sort of explanation about the telepathic link the twins have. Also, the conclusion of the book seemed a bit lacklustre - again, nearly entirely show rather than tell with no real reflection for the characters.

I will finish the trilogy, as I'm curious to see if Kestral and Bo grow at all and I'd like to see what happens to Mumpo. But, as much as I'd like to give it more, I can only rate this book three and a half stars.

I'd love to hear what you think about this book. Post on the comments below or hit me up at twitter, facebook or tumblr :]

     - Sarah

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