Having quite liked Ash Kickers, I started this one hoping for more of the same. This is in fact the installment that I was offered to review that had me reading the rest of the series before it in the first place.
Thanks to the author as well as Angry Robot for the review copy!
In the final instalment of the Smoke Eaters series, the New United States Army has taken over and America has devolved into a full-on dragon apocalypse. Smoke eaters are banned and have gone into hiding to avoid being held prisoner by the soldiers.
Guillermo Contreras is a private in the NUSA, and when he’s accused of potentially being a smoke eater upon pain of death, he escapes and sets out to find the heroes who disappeared years before. But what he discovers is that the NUSA has been working on something unthinkable, and it’s going to take more than a few smoke eaters to stop them.
“Who are you?” I asked. “Really?”
“I’m just your chauffeur for a couple hours. Get in the truck.”
“Come on,” I said. “I have to know.”
“Get used to disappointment.”
This is the story of Guillermo Contreras (or Gilly to his friends). He is a private in the New United States Army, which is… basically a group of mercenaries at this point. This volume of the story takes place about ten years after Ash Kickers, and so things have changed quite a lot since that time. Most noticeably, the US is pretty much a wasteland of tiny settlements, and most of the larger settlements are avoided and overrun by dragons. Being a Smoke Eater is illegal these days, and so when the NUSA accuses Guillermo of being a Smoke Eater, he escapes from them in spectacular fashion and ends up bumping into a few familiar individuals. And believe me, many shenanigans are had.
I quite enjoyed this one. More than the first two, I would say. Guillermo is a likeable character, and he was easy for me to cheer for. He’s just trying to make the best of what is obviously a pretty garbage situation, and I can relate to that.
This one had a bunch of chuckle inducing moments, from references to movies I like, to sports references that I actually understood and giggled at. The pacing was good, and the action was steadily kept up without being too much. I read this one in just short of two days, staying up a little late to get that last bit in before bed.
I didn’t realize that this was the final book in the series until I was reading the blurb for this review, but it does make sense. The story is brought to a logical end, leaving room for further exploration if that’s something that the author decides he’d like to do.
All told, I thought that this was a great conclusion to the Smoke Eaters series. While I wasn’t in love with the first book, the series got progressively better and better for me as it went. I’m definitely interested in what other stories Sean Grigsby has to tell. 4/5 stars!~