Book Review for: Paper and Fire

Series: The Great Library #2

Author: Rachel Caine

Pages: 368 (Kindle Edition), 411 (Paperback), 354 (Hardcover

Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Dystopian

Rating: 4 out of 5

Recommendation: Don’t lose hope after the first book.  The second installment answers many questions you may have after reading the first one and the story is much more cohesive.

Paper and Fire is the second installment in The Great Library series by Rachel Caine and it hits the ground running, beginning right where the first book ended. The Postulants from the first book have started the careers assigned to them by the Library, including Jess who is fully immersed in army training, yet heartbroken from the loss of his friend and the girl he loves.

The action begins almost immediately with Jess balancing his new role in the army with trying to uncover the many secrets the Library has hid for years.  As Jess starts putting the pieces of the decades long puzzle together, his distaste for the Library and all who revel in it grows, while his skills in the army are honed.  Now Jess and his friends – Kahlila, Dario, and Glain, as well as Captain Santi, Christopher Wolfe, and eventually Morgan –  must come together to gain even more knowledge about the library’s inner workings while trying to stay alive in a world where rebellion is growing and punishments are becoming increasingly more violent.  One wrong decision, one bad move, and the Library quickly sets its sights on Jess and his friends as they embark on a mission to save a dear friend from the bowels of the deep, dark Library.   This book is action-packed with Jess and his friends combating deadly automata and High Garda soldiers at every turn, and having to deal with the repercussions of their research into the Library’s dark and inhumane methods.  What the friends discover is an atrocity to human history, and they vow to uncover the wealth of knowledge the Library has kept hidden from the world.  

Final Thoughts

Paper and Fire is a maze of strategy, action, and sacrifice, guiding you towards the resolution of one difficulty only to lead you into the depths of yet another one.  What’s great about this book is that there are as many answers as there are questions since Rachel Caine addresses many of the things that left us scratching our heads in the first book (Yep, Morgan is back and we finally get to know how this whole Obscurist thing works, as well as what life is like for those forced to live in the Iron Tower), and also digs deeper into the reasons the Library rejects mechanical advancements in regards to books and the lengths they will go to protect the systems they have in place.  Caine does an outstanding job of mixing adventure, corruption, and sentimentality in this tale of good battling to triumph over those who seek ultimate control.

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