The battle was only the beginning; the real danger is beyond the fence ...
The Diggers have been destroyed, a horde of ghouls is moving inland and the High Priestess has seized control of the Central Territory. Together with Nim, a Nomad boy seeking vengeance against the ghouls, Squid and Lynn begin their long journey toward the city of Big Smoke, a city that may not even exist.
Pursued by forces that wish to see them fail, facing threats on all sides and conflict from within, Squid, Lynn and Nim search for a weapon against the ghouls. It is a search that will lead them into forbidden lands where long-held beliefs about their world are tested and Squid may finally unravel the truth of his identity.
But even if they survive their journey, the teenagers on whom the fate of the Territory now rests have no idea what dangers await them beyond the fence.
I want to be honest from the start... I love post apocalyptic stories. I would even go as far to say that they are my bread and butter alongside fantasy when it comes to my reading passion. There has always been something about the genre that I have found incredibly intriguing, whether it's seeing humanity stripped back to its barest of bones after some unforeseen global event, or the horrors that have been spawned by the collapse of society and its associated infrastructure. Post apocalyptic and dystopian stories have always drawn me in and refused to let go. In saying that though there has been, in my opinion, a noticeable drop off in the quality of the genre as of late (I have a theory about this but that's for another time and place). Stories have started to resemble each other, and the genre has run out of some of its puff for the most part.
So when I say that a new post apocalyptic dystopian story blew me away and surprised me, I don't say it lightly.
A City Called Smoke did both.
I loved so many things about this book, from its insanely awesome action sequences through to its enthralling and incredibly detailed world building that literally gave me head spins of joy (sky pirates... fucking sky pirates!!!). What made this book however, and makes the series so incredible overall so far, is its characters. Squid, Lynn, Nim, Stix and Stownes are all different yet equally fascinating individuals who drive the story along at a rapid rate. I adored how Woolley took their relationships with each other to another level in this book, whilst also using their journey to examine a variety of social issues such as sexism, the divide between the haves and have nots, and the power of religion and belief. This one was of the real strengths of A City Called Smoke, and it gave the story a real deep and layered thoughtfulness that I found incredibly alluring and enthralling. I also loved how Woolley slowly peeled back more and more of the layers surrounding the mystery of Squid and the greater world around the group as everything unfolded. We learn a lot more about the Church and how the Ghouls came to be in this novel, and just how far the Sisters and their power can reach across the desolate landscape. Some of my questions were still left unanswered by the end, but hey, who doesn't like a good mystery? The cliffhanger came out of nowhere and left me reeling (and cursing you Justin, you bad, bad man). I wanted to immediately jump into the next book. That is the sign of a great story.
Woolley is a relative newcomer to the writing game, but he has made an incredible impact so far in my opinion. A City Called Smoke is a riveting and razor sharp tale that breaks out of the mould of your typical post apocalyptic dystopian stories and claws at your soul for attention. I can't wait to see what Woolley does next in this incredible world he has created.
4 out of 5 stars!
A review copy was provided.