Every now and then a book comes along that is both exciting and hilarious, with a spatter of lessons which aren’t shoved down the reader’s throat. Wraith is one of those from the get-go.
The characters are so loveable that you can’t help but feel for them, and even the antagonists are not as menacing as they should be (except for one that’s being teased in this first book as THE big horrible baddie).
The book opens with us meeting James, our teen protagonist desperately trying to grapple with his newfound power of flying. His best friend, Darren, is the only one who knows about it and is therefore the only one who is helping him land properly – without breaking any bones. So far, it isn’t going so well.
James doesn’t know why he can fly and he doesn’t really care that much. He is excited to keep practising and find out his limits. So when his parents go away for a conference, James and Darren find a way to stay home to keep practising those landings. The problem is, he accidentally gets stuck inside a flying contraption and wakes up in Nebulosity – a city in the clouds.
Here, James meets the Azuriens and finds out that there is so much more to the world than what he’s been taught at school. Apparently, there are many species of humans co-existing in the world today. This revelation paves the way for Alexandra and Shane Smithers’ future books for Wraith.
After meeting the Azurien girl, Aureole (a strong character that sometimes feel like she should have co-billing rights as James), James ends up being drawn on a quest to find the SAFFIRE – a new technology designed by Azuriens to save the city from the effects of climate change. As if that wasn’t enough of a shock, James is also having a hard time contacting his parents who have mysteriously disappeared.
The chapters move between the points of view of James and the gang of criminals recently escaped from prison, led by the smooth and handsome Erebus. The band of baddies is reminiscent of the Home Alone bandits – idiotic and hilarious, with mad criminal skills. Both teams are in a race to find the SAFFIRE for entirely different reasons.
Smithers’ first Wraith book has the potential to become an amazing long running series. The characters are hilarious and, although there are undertones of messages on the environment and racial diversity, the book doesn’t take itself too seriously. Also, it sets the foundation well for the revelation of the super big baddie’s devastating plans in the next book.
Wraith is an exciting read for young readers. Can’t wait to read what James and Aureole’s next adventure is going to be.
Kristyn M. Levis is a freelance writer, author and photographer based in Sydney. She is currently the managing editor of Her Collective and creative director of 3C Digital. Her first novel, The Girl Between Two Worlds, was published in 2016. Book Two, The Girl Between Light and Dark, is out now.