Thank you NetGalley and NAL for providing an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: July 5th, 2016
Synopsis: With an iron fist, The Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good.
Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower and doomed to a life apart.
Embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.
But Jess’s home isn’t safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, or the Library willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control…
I’ve loved just about everything Rachel Caine has ever written including her adult urban fantasy series, Weather Wardens, and her YA vampire series, Morganville Vampires. Although I never wound up reviewing it last year, (too many NetGalley books) I also greatly enjoyed Ink and Bone, the first book in this new series where the world is run by The Library who wields its power ruthlessly and with no regard for human life. The sequel is even more intense and brutal than the first, where the only thing that is clear is that our intrepid band of heroes can’t trust anyone. It seems as though the head of The Library, the Archivist, has eyes and ears everywhere. And of course there’s the automata: giant statues of sphinxes, lions, and other figures who come to life and literally crush, shred and destroy anyone they see as a threat. If I ever visit the New York Public Library again I’m going to keep a careful eye on Patience and Fortitude, the marble lions who sit in front of the Beaux-Arts building! So, as was the case in the first book, the world-building is phenomenal. From the very first page I was immediately sucked back into this world where physical books are a treasured commodity held by a select few. One problem I had while reading Ink and Bone was with the characters, especially Jess. There wasn’t truly anything that stood out about them, and I had a difficult time connecting to any of them. Here though, they’re much more developed, although I still found myself wanting more complexity from them. I also found the pacing dragged a little at times. It was actually kind odd, because there’s all sorts of altercations the group gets into while they’re on their quest to rescue their friend who’s been imprisoned by the Archivist and his evil henchmen. I think some scenes didn’t add anything to the story and could have been cut, while others just dragged on a little too long. What really stood out to me at the end was exactly how little had actually been accomplished. There’s some romance, including an LGBT relationship, but these mostly take a back seat to everything else going on. I loved the ending which managed not to be a frustrating cliffhanger, yet nicely set things up for the third book. Despite a few flaws, Paper and Fire is a strong sequel to Ink and Bone. One word of warning: there’s a scene near the end that will make any bibliophile gasp in horror. That said, this is shaping up to be a fun series that gives an imaginative twist to the well-used theme of a group of teens rebelling against a corrupt government-type entity.