When We have Wings

The dream of being able to fly is now physical reality, but only the rich and powerful can afford the surgery, drugs and gene manipulation to become fliers. Peri, a poor girl from the regions, will sacrifice anything to get her wings and join this elite, but the price is higher than she could have imagined. So why then does she throw it all away? Feel the exhilaration and terror of flight - over vertiginous skyscrapers, into wild storms and across hypnotic wilderness, in this beautiful and daringly imaginative novel that explores the limits of self-transformation. When We Have Wings is told in alternating narrative voices, of Peri Almond a poor girl gifted wings by her wealthy employees, and the aptly named Zeke Fowler a high profile private investigator who will never be a flier. The first two chapters contain quite large information dumps which was a lot to hold onto as I was introduced to the two points of view and this dystopia-type future world. Although after this, Claire Corbett devotes time to telling the tale and world building, which is fantastic and really adds to a sense of being immersed in the story.

It's a bit hard to pick the genre, like a lot of speculative fiction it's got a bit of everything. It has a kind of crime / mystery / thriller format but it has a science fiction / fantasy element. And there's a tiny bit of almost zombie type stuff in that the messing around with genetics can lead to horrific, unintended consequences. So it's hard to categorise but I really enjoyed the blending of the genres. It tackles some controversial issues such as the ethics behind genetically modifying humans, and what it might mean for society if different species of humans were created. It also tackles surrogacy and many of the complications around it including the use / abuse of poor and disadvantaged women who are desperate for economic freedom, and what a surrogate mother's rights might be to the baby she carries. Even though it tackles issues like this, it really leans more towards the crime / thriller / mystery angle so perhaps it's not particularly literary in the most traditional sense, but it does have depth and it's a brilliant and original story that is perfectly realised. To be continued...

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