Jess survived induction into the Library, but life as one of their soldiers is far more grueling than he expected. The girl he loves is locked away forever, and his best friend is lost. When rumors bring Jess’s old classmates together again, they face a terrible choice: a rescue mission that would mean living the rest of their lives on the run from the Library, if they manage to escape. Jess promises refuge with his family, but even he isn’t sure he can count on his father to hide them without having something valuable to offer in return.
After devouring the series opener, INK AND BONE, (and then pestering everyone I know to also go read it) I was anxious to start reading PAPER AND FIRE. I love Jess. Something about the combination of his cleverness and vulnerability makes it essential for me to root for him.
I felt like the story in INK AND BONE was a tiny bit more organized, but I still really enjoyed PAPER AND FIRE. In the first book, I was nervous about liking each new character as they were introduced. In PAPER AND FIRE, I was biting my nails down to the quick because again and again, all the characters I love find themselves in mortal peril. I kept having to stop and take a breath.
One of the really difficult things for a series like this where the story world is so unbelievably inventive is that the second book doesn’t have that wow factor with regard to that story world. We already know about the Great Library and the sinister automata. Though they’re still as unique and interesting, I didn’t feel the same awe, because I had kind of already acclimated to the wonder. If that makes sense. I felt the same way about THE HUNGER GAMES. But by the second book, I was like, oh yeah, the Arena. I remember that. Not quite the same.
So yeah. That’s my take. Still a great read, and possibly cleaner than the first book. I’m super excited to see what happens in the next book, ASH AND QUILL.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used infrequently.
Some passionate kissing. At one point, it seems like two characters are winding up to have sex, but they argue instead, and that kills the mood.
Two men kiss.
Jess and his friends learn that in the Iron Tower, Obscurists are matched based on ability and forced to have sex in order to produce children. The process isn’t described, but during Morgan’s imprisonment, Jess worries for her and hates the idea of her being forced into anything.
Khalila is a practicing Muslim.
Burners use Greek fire to set books and themselves ablaze. They also use it against soldiers and members of the Great Library. Jess serves as a soldier and faces battle. The battle descriptions are more about the strategy than about warfare. Guns are used.
Jess and the others learn that Wolfe and other prisoners were tortured. While there aren’t scenes actively depicting the torture, characters who’ve experienced it react strongly to any triggers, and there are some references to the fact that it happened. At one point, Jess and the team find the room where others have been tortured.