Strings by David Estes

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.

‘I’m a marionette maneuvered by a skilful and indifferent puppeteer, jerking me around without regard for the pain it causes.’

As the blurb above says, Strings is a sci-fi reimagining of Pinocchio, where instead of wooden puppet in a small village we have Pia, attached to mechanical strings that seem to have a life of their own, in a strange facility called The Compound. It’s established early on that not all is as it seems and that Pia’s world will be changing from the routine she knows and accepts.

It’s always interesting to read a reimagining and see what the author does with the original story and I really liked the way Estes used the story of Pinocchio, especially the more subtle references (I’m not sure if there is a cat called Figaro in the book, as there is in the film, but I loved that Pia’s bot is essentially that character). Small shout out to Fig, hands down the best character in the book, and maybe my favourite Estes character ever.

The characters are fantastic and you really get a feel of them as there are only a few main characters. Pia was a brilliant protagonist and it was fascinating gradually learning about her life in The Compound and her strings. Her bot, and best friend, Fig was definitely my favourite character – he’s just so adorable! I don’t know how Estes manged to put so much personality into a tiny nanobot but I love it. Marco and Sofia add to the mystery of the story as you can never be sure exactly who they are and where their allegiances lie – are they who they say they are, or pawns for The Compound?

Although Strings is predominantly a sci-fi story I really enjoyed the level of mystery within it – there are mysteries upon mysteries throughout that are slowly revealed, and I loved how Estes created such a sense of mystery surrounding The Compound and the nature of Pia’s strings, which seem wild and unpredictable at the best of times. You only know as much as Pia, which was delightfully frustrating, especially as you just know people are keeping secrets.

Strings is an excellent mix of sci-fi and mystery, and once again David Estes has created a really interesting and believable dystopian world, with characters you genuinely love and care for. Another fantastic offering from a lovely man, highly recommended for fans of dystopia.


Read: February 17th 2016

4/5 stars

“A wonderful retelling of the Pinocchio story…I simply couldn’t put this book down.” – Rysa Walker, bestselling author of TIMEBOUND

Click below for extra information, including a bit about the lovely David Estes, and where you can purchase the book.

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.

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