Wow. I really loved this book. Incredibly smart and insightful. Dan Vyleta captivated me with his writing from the very first paragraph. About 5 pages in, I proclaimed that this would be my favorite book of the year - and it turned out to be one of my favorites of all time.
"Smoke" by Dan Vyleta is set as an alternate history in a London in which those who think or do evil acts are marked by a Smoke that emits from their body. While most of the working-class is heavily coated in Smoke and living in sin, the wealthy are prized on their cleanliness and virtue.
This novel follows the story of three young adults who begin to question the Smoke, and ultimately learn that everything they have been taught may have been a lie. Is the Smoke inherent? Does it have a cure? Is one's goodness determined by their Smoke or does the Smoke determine whether they are good? As they seek answers to these questions, Thomas, Charlie, and Livia face many dangers and obstacles that could cost them their lives.
If you follow me on any social media, you'll know how taken I was by this novel - I fell hard and fast. Wildly imaginative, yet deeply human, this book explores the lines between good and evil, social classes, and virtue. This is the type of book that needs to be savored; if you read through it too fast you'll miss the elegant subtleties of Vyleta's writing. The beauty is in it's slow reveal.
Each character in this novel is compelling and deeply woven. As the novel progresses, the evolution of each character is portrayed beautifully. Perspective shifts throughout the novel, giving you an inside peek into each character's thoughts about the Smoke and their motivations. I felt a strong connection to each person in this book, whether I was rooting for them or not.
I can't recommend this book enough. It is tremendously thought-provoking and lends itself well to further discussion. Whether you love historical fiction, fantasy, or thriller - this book is for you.
*Originally, I received this novel as a digital galley for review by NetGalley, but loved it so much I had to purchase my own copy! So, thank you, NetGalley and Doubleday Books for sending this novel in exchange for my honest review.*