It is time for another mystery book. I knew nothing about “A City Called Smoke” or its author, Justin Woolley, but the cover and description of the book intrigued me so I decided to give it a read.
After the war had been won, the world was supposed to be a better place. The Diggers had been destroyed and the ghouls were moving inland to where a priestess had arisen to take control of the Central Territories. Things were not getting better. At least not is Squid and Lynn’s opinion. In order to seek a better existence, the two set out for the mythical city of Big Smoke in spite of the dangers that lurk outside of the walled city.
As Squid and Lynn start their journey toward a town that may be nothing more than a myth, they befriend a Nomad boy named Nim who is trying to find a way to get vengeance against the ghouls. The trio of adventurers begin to search for a weapon with which to fight the ghouls. This search leads them into the forbidden lands beyond the gates and the terrors that lie beyond the world they thought they knew. Their beliefs about the world are going to be tested as they struggle to find a brighter future while struggling to stay alive.
I did not realize that “A City Called Smoke” was the second book in a series and this caused some confusion for me when I started the novel. I was a bit lost at what was happening and it was difficult for me to get into the story. I think that this is a series that needs to be read in order for the reader to fully enjoy the story as it definitely hindered me from getting into the tale. I was missing some of the character development and backstory that the writer intended the reader to have and this made the narrative seem a bit choppy and incomplete. This was entirely my fault and should be taken as a cautionary measure by anyone looking to get into the series that this is not a series that can be entered at any time.
“A City Called Smoke” is very well written and the setting is an interesting one. In spite of this, and maybe in part due to coming in late to the story, I just was never able to fully sink into the story. While I found the events of the story interesting, I just could not get to the point at which I cared about what was going to happen to the characters. Squid, Lynn, and Nim all seemed to be rather cliché for characters in the genre as were many of the events. I felt as if the story had too much of a “been there, done that” feeling to it and not enough originality to qualify as more than a good read. I concede that I may have enjoyed the story more if I had read the first book but I still do not think that it would have been compelling enough to be more than just a diversion rather than a moving experience. Fans of dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction would be well served in giving the series a try but I did not find the novel to be something that sticks out from the crowd of other books in the genre and thought it to be good but not exemplary.
I would like to thank Momentum Books and NetGalley for this review copy. “A City Called Smoke” is available now.