Monday, July 9, 2018

ARC Review: Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine

Title: Smoke and Iron
Series: The Great Library #4
Written by: Rachel Caine
Published: July 3, 2018 by Berkley (Penguin/Random House)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: To save the Great Library, the unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone, Paper and Fire, and Ash and Quill put themselves in danger in the next thrilling adventure in the New York Times bestselling series. 

 The opening moves of a deadly game have begun. Jess Brightwell has put himself in direct peril, with only his wits and skill to aid him in a game of cat and mouse with the Archivist Magister of the Great Library. With the world catching fire, and words printed on paper the spark that lights rebellion, it falls to smugglers, thieves, and scholars to save a library thousands of years in the making...if they can stay alive long enough to outwit their enemies.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

I really love this series and I was very excited and anxious to find out what was going to happen in the latest installment especially after the way the last one ended. And this was another great example of how interesting and engaging this series is.

One of my favorite things about this book is the world that Caine has been able to create. In this book we delve even deeper into some of the more interesting aspects of the magical system that we only got the smallest taste of in the first three books. For one thing we got to learn a lot more about the Obscurists and how their powers work, which I found very cool. We also get to see more of the steampunk technology like the automata and other inventions that Artifex like Thomas create. There was a very cool and very scary invention that the Library created which made for a very intense scene. All in all, I love the way that Caine has expanded on the world by combining science fiction and fantasy in a way that makes for a compelling world.

However the best part about this world is the political intrigue. This book is incredibly hard to categorize, which is one of the things I like about it, and this is one of the main reasons why. It reads a lot like a dystopia with an oppressive ruler fighting to maintain control from a rebellion by our main characters. And in this book, that rebellion is in full swing. Most of the book we have our heroes plotting against the Library and planning a coup that still protects knowledge and everything that the Library stands for. It honestly feel really timely in a subtle way that I really appreciated. But I also love how sinister the Library is. As book lovers we probably find it hard to root against such a place but Caine has managed to create a library that is so awful you want them to fail, well you want those in charge to fail. It’s a hard line to walk and she does it with ease.

Though it may be easy to root against the Library because it is easy to root for these characters. I have become so attached to these characters in the past four books, I am so scared about what is going to happen to them. In all the previous books, everything was from Jess’s perspective. This was fine with me because I really like Jess as a character. His thirst for knowledge and desire to do anything for the people he cares about is truly admirable and makes him easy to want to succeed. But I like that he’s still vulnerable and makes a lot of mistakes. He gets himself and others into a lot of bad situations here and I appreciate that he gets called out for it. He’s a good leader and strategist but he’s not perfect and those are the characters I like reading about.

But in this book we also get perspectives from plenty of other characters. Almost every one of the main characters gets to narrate at least one chapter and some like Morgan and Khalila get even more tan that. I really enjoyed being in their heads as well. Some of my favorite chapters and sections of this book were those from Morgan in particular. She had some of the most interesting experiences and getting to see her plot and scheme was amazing. I also really liked getting to see portions of the book from Wolfe and Santi’s perspectives because they have become some of my favorite characters. And while it made total sense for the narrative to change narrators and take us to different places, I did have that problem where I was annoyed we had to leave a haracter just when their story was getting good. It’s kind of just the nature of the game though.

Luckily, there was never a lull in this book though. The plot was so thrilling. There was so much action and adventure to go along with the intrigue and scheming. I honestly could not stop reading it. I have been having a really hard time with ebooks lately and I considered grabbing the audiobook for this one but once I started reading it, I didn’t want to audio at all. I was cruising through it and loving reading it with every turning page.

On the whole, I really enjoyed this book. I loved learning more about the world and seeing the scheming and plotting, I loved the characters and seeing more perspectives, and I loved how thrilling this book was.

I give Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you are a fan of this series you will love the latest installment. It’s a great read and it ends with me desperately wanting the last book to see how everything shakes out. If you haven’t started this series and you are looking for a book that reads like dystopia but has a fantasy and sci-fi flair then definitely pick this up.

Have you read Smoke and Iron? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

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