"A wonderful retelling of the Pinocchio story…I simply couldn’t put this book down."
Rysa Walker, bestselling author of TIMEBOUND
Rysa Walker, bestselling author of TIMEBOUND
Written by David Estes
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Sometimes the strings that tie us down are the same strings that set us free.
Sixteen-year-old Pia has always lived in a mysterious facility where mechanical strings control her existence. She plays apprentice to her father, Gio, in performing nanotech designs for the Company, and she soon suspects there are diabolical human forces behind the manufactured reality of her world.
Though her childhood memories and the origins of the strings remain strangely elusive, she begins to find solace with the introduction of two unlikely friends: daring, irrational Sofia, and calm, tender Marco.
As the truths of the past and present unravel together, Pia must find a way to free herself from her strings and escape the facility before facing the wrath of the unstable head of security, Mr. Davis. But to gain her freedom, she must navigate the dangers posed by Davis and by her suspicious new friends to find the real identity of the puppeteer.
If Pia can succeed in revealing the secrets of the Company, she may very well find the independence she so desperately seeks. But in her controlled world nothing is as it seems, and the closer she gets to the truth, the graver the consequences.
About the author
David Estes is the author of more than 20 science fiction and fantasy novels that have received hundreds of thousands of downloads worldwide, including The Moon Dwellers, Fire Country, Slip, Brew, and his new SciFi Pinocchio retelling, Strings. He lives in Hawaii with his inspiring Aussie wife, Adele, rambunctious son, Beau, and naughty cat, Bailey. When he's not writing, you'll likely find him at the beach swimming, snorkeling, or reading under an umbrella.
Strings Excerpt 1:
The strings are as black as polished ebony, twirling down from the viscous ceiling, which moves like dark waters lapping on a bleak and empty shore. Almost like it’s breathing: in and out, in and out. Not solid, but molten like lava; the dark ceiling flows from room to room throughout the entire compound, allowing my strings to move gracefully and unfettered without getting tangled. According to Papa, the gelatinous ceiling was invented late in the 21st century under the name dream oil. Basically the thick liquid substance can float within designated electromagnetic fields (like a rectangular ceiling space) and yet create enough internal friction to secure various fixtures, such as lights or ceiling fans (or strings). The ceiling controls the strings, sometimes seeming to read my mind before even I know what I’m thinking. Pulling me right when I’m about to turn left. Raising my hand when I’m about to drop it to my side. Bending me to its every will and whim, which most of the time feels like exactly the same thing.
The strings are connected to me in fifteen obtrusive places. One in each thumb, one in each hand, one in each foot. My elbows and knees are connected, too. One in each hip and shoulder for balance, and one final string plugged into the crown of my head, forcing me to look people in the eyes, even if I don’t want to. There are thin silver circles implanted in my flesh where each string enters my skin. As far as I can tell, there’s no way to pull the strings out, unless some kind of special tool is required. So long as I do what’s expected of me, the strings mostly leave me alone, sort of like they’re a part of me, moving as I move, staying out of my way. But if I veer off course for even a second, they’re always there to pull me back in line; I’m a marionette maneuvered by a skillful and indifferent puppeteer, jerking me around without regard for the pain it causes.
Like the mangled scissors I tried to cut my strings with, I’m bent. Not literally—my strings are as taut and tight as ever—but inside, where no one can see. I’m bent like a cracked toothpick.
But not broken.
Strings Excerpt 2:
Happiness is perched on a branch outside my window.
A robin, resting in a nest with two blue eggs, their matte curves as perfect and unmarred and cloudless as a cornflower sky. The mama bird has been tending to her unborn babes for days, keeping them warm. I can’t wait to see them hatch.
Watching the bird and her eggs each morning while braiding my hair is my moment of peace. It’s a single pinprick moment where I can forget the world and smile without letting reality ruin things.
I often imagine that my window is on hinges, and that I can push it open, reaching my hand into the empty expanse, feeling the breeze on my skin, offering friendship to the robin and its family. The mama would land on my arm and cock her head and sing songs of life to me. She would change me with her melodies.
But the window is just a slab of thick glass, slightly blurring the view that is already ruined by the hardy metal bars rising from sill to ceiling.
I managed to get my hands on an advanced review copy of this book, so I've already read it. Since that's the case, here's my review:
Once again, David Estes has managed to spin a tale that will grab your attention from page one, and hold it until the very end, so that putting this book down before I was done felt like torture, and I couldn't stop thinking about it between reading sessions.
All of the characters are believable, the main character is easy to relate to, and the plot moves at just the right pace. On top of that, the story has a wonderful moral to it.
Five stars just don't seem enough to say how fantastic this book is; I swear I'd give it more if I could!
***Note: I was given a free advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This fact has in no way influenced my opinion of the book, nor the contents of this review.