by Terrance Mc Arthur
This week we have a review & giveaway of Paper and Fire. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, along with a link to purchase the book from Amazon.
There’s an old joke among librarians, “Public libraries would be so much better if we could just get rid of the public.” What if…the world was ruled by the Library, private ownership of books was a death-penalty crime, and books and authors that went against Library interpretations of what should and should not be known disappeared, frequently?
Rachel Caine considered those questions and created The Great Library, a third-person, semi-steampunk-alchemy-speculative-alternate-history-reality centered on Alexandria. Paper and Fire is the second book in the series, after Ink and Bone. It probably helps to read them in order, but Paper and Fire gets to rolling along so powerfully that nothing matters but the “now” that you are reading.
Jess is from a long line of book smugglers that put business over blood. He has joined the Library, only to find himself in the military arm, chasing down illegal volumes and the Burners who try to fight the Library’s power, and protecting people he would like to kill. Mourning one friend’s loss and missing the girl he betrayed to Library servitude, he makes some discoveries that launch him and his friends into a rescue mission that could destroy the Library’s stranglehold on information. The group battles Burners with greenish firebombs, Library lions of the robotic kind, Jess’s own twin brother, Library administrators who put power over learning, and traitors in their midst.
There are multiple love storylines: business-driven, same-sex, do-i-trust-you, and more. The settings veer from Egypt to Rome and to London, where the Welsh are revolting (please don’t insert your own joke here). Caine, author of a dozen Morganville Vampires books, delivers on the world-building and the action sequences, from a deadly training exercise in the desert to scrambles through the sewers of Rome, and a sorcery version of a science-fiction transporter that scrambles your stomach…if you’re lucky.
Of course, it has a lot of elements you expect to find in YA dystopian novels: a diverse group joining together to battle a monolithic society that could crush them like a glass Christmas ornament, but they miraculously outwit the ‘powers that be’ at almost every turn, when they aren’t longing for love or arguing. It’s a caper, political intrigue, and military, not so much Harry Potter as Ocean’s Eleven meets The Hunger Games, with Logan’s Run and The DaVinci Code thrown in for good measure.
To enter to win a copy of Paper and Fire, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “paper,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 23, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.
Check out more fantasy book reviews in our fantasy and fangs section.
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