Revna is a factory worker who can illegally manipulate the Weave, a form of magic that holds the world together. Linne is a soldier who defied her father, dressed herself as a boy, and ran away to join the army. When the two are caught, they are offered a chance to serve the Union: use their magic and join an all-female squadron of pilots to fight against the enemy. The problem is, the two girls can barely stand each other and the plane, made by “living metal” that can sense emotions, becomes difficult to manage with the tension in the cockpit. Can the two young women set aside their differences and become a team? Or will the tension become too much for them to overcome?
This was a really relentlessly depressing book. That’s not a knock on the book, because the plot was interesting, the characters were well developed, and I liked the descriptions of how the girls trained and became a unit. But everywhere, there was resistance and sexism and the threat of torture and death. Revna and her squad spend the whole book convinced that the moment the war ends, they’ll all be arrested for using illegal magic. And, really? I think that fear is well founded. The government and the secret police are terrifying and oppressive to the extreme.
Also depressing was the relationship between Linne and Revna. Individually, I like both the girls. Linne has been a soldier for the past few years and is adjusting to having to be a woman again. She’s disdainful of the women in her squadron and prejudice against Revna because of Revna’s prosthetic legs. In fact, she’s outright cruel, and sometimes it was hard to like her. Revna was much easier to take. I understood her fear and depression over the state of being. She’s torn between hating the Union for what it’s done to her and wanting to be a good Union girl. She desperately wants to be a pilot to save her mother and sister, but finds personal freedom in it as well.
This book has some adventure and a lot of intrigue. It’s just a very heavy book and hard to handle at times. I also wish there had been a little explanation as to what the Weave and living metal was. I got it from context, but I’d have liked to delve deeper. All in all, it was an okay book.