Hey guys! Sorry it's been so long since I've done a review. School has kept me extremely busy and I haven't had much time for reading. I'm back now, with an ARC review of Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano. The ARC was sent to me by the wonderful Emma of Miss Print. This book releases on May 3rd, 2016, and I am so happy I was able to get an early look at it! This will be a spoiler free review and all of the actual info contained within that is not my opinion can be found in the synopsis or on the cover (there is one spoiler, but it doesn't really give anything away, and you probably won't even notice it).
The cover was what initially caught my attention. This isn't really a big surprise because i am very much a judge-a-book-by-its-cover type person. I'm not usually a fan of people on the cover (side note: people's faces in pictures really freak me out. I don't even keep pics of family out where I can see it because I always feel like they're watching me, and books with people weird me out too) but the shadows and the positioning of the model really drew my eye. The font of the title is also really cool. I liked that the font fit the title but, as I read, it also ties in really well with the book.
After I saw the amazing cover, I had to read the synopsis. This also isn't very surprising because I read the synopsis of every book before I decide to read it. I liked the juxtaposition of being imprisoned but being free, being innocent but feeling like you should be locked up. I also really liked that the synopsis gave just enough of the story to reel me in, but not so much that it gave anything away.
Once I picked this book up, I couldn't put it down. It started off pretty slow, which surprisingly didn't bother me, and picked up a little bit as the book went on. It was never fast-paced, but I think that was a good choice on the author's part because the pacing of the book fit the circumstances the character found himself in. I also really liked the just-enough-but-not-too-much supernatural element it had.
The main character, John "Smoke" Conlan, was very intense and compelling. At first, I couldn't figure out his motivations, but they were slowly revealed over the course of the book. I wouldn't say he would be relatable to everyone, he certainly wasn't for me, but that actually made him seem more human. He struggled with his choices and made mistakes. He wasn't perfect. I also liked Pink. She wasn't as large a part of the story as I thought she would be, but she was a good foil for Smoke.
I did have two problem with this book, which ultimately led me to rate it 3 out of 5 stars. First was the way some things were described in the book. Most of the characters in the book are in prison and they do stereotypical prison things, but most of these actions (and others) are described in a vague wording that doesn't impart how truly gritty and violent they are. But, there is one situation in the book that is told in excruciating, gruesome detail and I think the whole book needed to be told that way instead of glossing over the unsavory elements. By avoiding being explicit with the actions and situations of the characters, the author actually made me detach from the story. The second problem I had with the book was the epilogue. It read more like a joke alternate ending because, from what I saw, there was no lead up to it and it seemed out of character for Smoke to make the decision he did based on what he had previously been working toward in the story.
Neither of these problems kept me from reading and enjoying this book. Actually, I liked this book a lot and I think it will appeal to a lot of people. This is definitely a book that I would recommend and the more reviews there are, the more people will potentially have the chance to read it. I also know how hard it is to get ARCs. That's why I'm going to give away my ARC copy of Holding Smoke: