A City Called Smoke is the second in a series of YA zombie apocalypse books that begins with A Town Called Dust. I thoroughly enjoyed that book, and you need to read it first if you want to enjoy this one to the fullest. This is a bit of a sophomore slump, as I just didn’t enjoy it as much as ATCD, but it did move the story forward, and I am desperate to read the next book. These books are ones that can be enjoyed by both genders and by middle school readers and adult readers alike.
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.
Squid and Lynn are beginning their journey to fulfill The Prophecy of Steven as A City of Smoke begins, but while they have escaped the High Priestess, she hasn’t quite finished with them yet. The majority of this book involves Squid and Lynn’s struggle to get beyond the wall to Big Smoke. A few new characters are introduced, both allies and enemies, and old relationships evolve as the dangers of the journey take precedence over the bonds formed by the big battle at Dust. It looks like the author is setting up a love triangle for Squid and Lynn, and I’m not sure I wanted that to happen. I can’t be sure that is really the case because I think Squid feels possessive of their friendship, the only friendship he has ever had, but I’m not sure he actually feels a romantic love for Lynn. While readers will still get bits of perspective from other characters, the narrative this time mostly belongs to Squid, and it becomes clear that, in this book, he is the hero on a journey. Patient readers will also be rewarded with a clearer picture of time and setting, as contact with outsiders begins to help Squid piece together parts of the past and his place in the future. This book ends with a definite cliffhanger, though most readers will have some idea of how it’s going to go. Why, Mr. Woolley? Why did you do this to me? I will be waiting impatiently for the third book. While I found book two less engaging than the first, the last third gave me a lot of answers I had been waiting for, so I’m glad I finished it.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.