Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine
Book Two of The Great Library series
Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
Summary (from Goodreads):
In Ink and Bone, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine introduced a world where knowledge is power, and power corrupts absolutely. Now, she continues the story of those who dare to defy the Great Library—and rewrite history…
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 life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. 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…
What I Liked:
I didn't think I could love this series any more than I already do! Last year, Ink and Bone captivated me, and the ending left me up in arms and ready to storm... something, for the sequel. Paper and Fire is nothing I was expecting, and so utterly satisfying. I got everything I was waiting for, and then some! Now I'm hankering for book three!
Jess Brightwell is in training to be a soldier of the High Garda, with Glain as his squad leader. After Thomas's death, and Morgan being sent to the Iron Tower, Glain is the only one Jess trusts. Jess pieces together something incredibly unbelievable, and he rallies the group (Glain, Khalila, Dario, Wolfe, Santi) to try and do the impossible. Nothing is easy; Khalila is a Scholar, as is Dario. Santi is a commanding officer. Wolfe seems unstable. And everyone, including the Archivist, has their eyes on Jess. Nowhere is safe, and no one is trustworthy.
I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I fell back into the story! I remembered the ending of Ink and Bone very well, but most of the details from the book escaped me. Caine makes it very easy to slip back into Jess's head (third person perspective), and I didn't feel lost. In fact, you could probably get away with reading this book without having read Ink and Bone at all - though I don't recommend going that route. Ink and Bone was intricate and complex and SO good!
I swear Jess is Spiderman or something! He isn't a natural soldier (he was training to be a Scholar!), but he gets into shape and follows his duties and his training and excels (in my opinion). He's also retained his intelligence and cleverness, and all of his mastermind criminal ways (from his family business, if you recall). But more than all of these things, Jess has a big heart and a selfless soul. He was never a violent person, but he has matured so much between books, and will do what he has to, to protect his friends. He isn't irrational (he's pretty clever!), but he constantly finds ways to throw himself in danger's way, rather than another person.
We get to see a lot more of Wolfe, and Santi (and Wolfe and Santi), and Glain. I can't remember how I felt about Glain in book one (I remember she was rather cold?), but I really liked her in this book. She comes across as ruthless, a punishing leader, but she is efficient and tough and capable.
The beginning doesn't start with a bang, but the action really picks up quickly and never slows down. This pacing worked for me! It didn't feel too fast, but I couldn't read fast enough, and my heart was constantly pounding. Caine had me guessing about so many things - was ____ trustworthy? Would Jess survive this automaton attack? Would Wolfe be lost to his memories? So many worries!
I loved the high-stakes, high-action plot. I loved Jess and his character growth - he is fearless, and takes challenges and faces them head-on. I love seeing so many secondary characters, and how dynamic and important they were. I was pretty excited to see the reappearance of two key characters.
I feel like this book has several parts to it, and to describe each part would be spoilery. But I liked how Caine kept weaving the story in a different direction than I expected. And how she took us to many different locations (and the associated dangers!).
I'll say a little on the romance. There are multiple ships! We know that Wolfe and Santi are a very solid thing. Jess and Morgan are totally in love with each other; but as Morgan is in the Iron Tower (and Jess is wracked with guilt), their relationship does take a hit for some of the books. But I like how things smoothed out - there was conflict upon reunion, but the pair came to an understanding. I hope they won't be separated again!
No love triangle(s), or anything of the sort. Also, no cliffhanger (not really).
Overall, I'm very pleased with this sequel novel. It is quite possibly one of the most exciting sequels I've read for the year, and one of the best too. I don't know how I'll manage the wait until book three is available!
What I Did Not Like:
I can't think of anything specifically? I'm sure there were things while I was reading the book, that bothered me a little. And I know I'm giving this four stars (as opposed to five stars). But this one is a 4.5-star-read to me, and my picky self is going to round down. STILL, I loved this book!
Would I Recommend It:
I highly recommend reading this book - though I do recommend reading Ink and Bone first. These aren't companion novels, and so much of the first book is the foundation for this book. If you're a fan of books, why wouldn't you like this one? A book about books! *winks*
4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars. Again, I'm being picky. There aren't factors against the book that are pushing me to round down. I love this sequel and cannot wait to read the conclusion! Here is hoping Caine doesn't break out hearts.
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Thanks to the wonderful people at Berkley/NAL, I've got a trade paperback copy of Ink and Bone up for grabs! USA only, ends 06/06. Good luck!