Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Review: Paper and Fire

Title: Paper and Fire
Author: Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library
Volume: 2
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: July 5, 2016
eARC received through Netgalley

A Quick Introduction: Born into a family of book-smugglers, Jess has always been an enemy of The Great Library- but now he's also a member of their ranks. He also has far more personal reasons to hate the Library, having seen far too many of it's dark secrets during his training, and lost his best friend, Thomas, to the Library's ruthless control of new ideas. When he finds out that Thomas may still be alive, he and his friends will stop at nothing to free him.

Out of Ten: 8/10

Review at a Glance: An intriguing continuation of a series in which the Great Library of Alexandria never burned, and now controls all availability to books, and knowledge in general.

Review: I did quite enjoy Ink and Bone, but Paper and Fire took it to another level for me. It raises the stakes, and pulls us further into the world of the Library. There is A LOT happening in this story.

Jess has always had a pretty complicated relationship with the Library, and that continues in this book. He now has a lot of ties within the library- people he trusts more than his own blood family- but also far more reason to fear it. When he finds out the Thomas is alive and being tortured by the library, he and his friends and allies are determined to find out where. This means deception, and their quest definitely leads to come collateral damage.

What was really interesting about this is we see the Library is not a faceless evil made up of only terrible people doing awful things. There's a lot of good people who truly value knowledge there, and there are a lot of conflicting ideals at work. There's people plotting, but there are also a lot of people who serve the Library without really knowing about the corruption among it's highest ranks, which we see more of in this book. I'm really hoping that in the next book something is done about how the Obscurists are treated- and also that Sybilla is okay.

There are so many characters in this book, too. There's Jess and his friends, and Wolfe and Santi, and a whole host of supporting characters who all have names and motives and histories of their own that get touched on. One thing I still rather suspect I wouldn't have missed is Jess's relationship with Morgan? I'm not sure, it just feels like it was shoehorned in during the first book, and it somehow never really developed into something I cared that much about.

Something else that I really liked was that Wolfe and Santi continue to play a role. Often, in YA novels, the teenage protagonists don't have any real adult support. Paper and Fire manages to let Wolfe and Santi play a role, without having them condescend to any of the teens, all the while letting them be characters going through their own struggles. I feel like it isn't common enough in YA to see adult characters who actually respect the young heroes, and I really appreciated getting to see that.

I do still wish that the power of the Obscurists was expanded on, and I still don't fully understand the alchemy. I wish that had been expanded on more, I was hoping it would be made more clear in this book, but if wasn't.

I'm really looking forward to seeing how this trilogy concludes, and to see how the existence of the Library has shaped North America in the next book.


  1. Great review! I totally agree with you that this second book is even better than the first and definitely raises the stakes! I love all the characters and your point re: Santi and Wolfe! I can't wait for more of this series in NA

    my review

    1. Thanks! The large cast really is a strength of these book, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of them. Here's hoping that the third book is even better than the second!