A Review of Holding Smoke, by Elle Cosimano


Holding Smoke

Goodreads Rating: 4.05 Stars
336 Pages
Disney-Hyperion Publishing
Expected Publication: May 3rd, 2016
Preorder it here!

John “Smoke” Conlan is serving time for two murders but he wasn’t the one who murdered his English teacher, and he never intended to kill the only other witness to the crime. A dangerous juvenile rehabilitation center in Denver, Colorado, known as the Y, is Smoke’s new home and the only one he believes he deserves.

But, unlike his fellow inmates, Smoke is not in constant imprisonment. After a near death experience leaves him with the ability to shed his physical body at will, Smoke is able to travel freely outside the concrete walls of the Y, gathering information for himself and his fellow inmates while they’re asleep in their beds. Convinced his future is only as bright as the fluorescent lights in his cell, Smoke doesn’t care that the “threads” that bind his soul to his body are wearing thin-that one day he may not make it back in time. That is, until he meets Pink, a tough, resourceful girl who is sees him for who he truly is and wants to help him clear his name.

Now Smoke is on a journey to redemption he never thought possible. With Pink’s help, Smoke may be able to reveal the true killer, but the closer they get to the truth, the more deadly their search becomes. The web of lies, deceit, and corruption that put Smoke behind bars is more tangled than they could have ever imagined. With both of their lives on the line, Smoke will have to decide how much he’s willing to risk, and if he can envision a future worth fighting for.

– – – – –

Quick Reasons: ohmahgosh, I can’t even; this book will MAKE you reconsider the world; there’s no escaping the twist and lure of “good vs. bad” going on in these pages; this will turn you on your head and make you see things upside down…and you’ll let it; gorgeous, melodic prose; hard-hitting story; dramatic, action-packed mystery—a race to the finish line

HUGE thanks to Elle Cosimano, Disney-Hyperion Publishing, and Netgalley for granting my wish for access to this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way changed my read of or opinions on this book.

I circle the bed as my threads wind tighter, nothing but a length of fraying twine in my hands. I can’t stop thinking about what Pink said. About not being afraid. My head’s wrapped in metal. But that other thing, the part that beats beneath my ribs, feels so damn fragile.

Disney-Hyperion, what are you even doing to my heart these days?! This is the second book from you in a month that’s made me question everything…and literally turned the world topsy-turvy on me. I mean, don’t get me wrong—I’m definitely not complaining! But holy penguins, if you keep this up my perspective is going to be all sorts of distorted and confused! (so…keep it up! please?)

So. You’re probably looking at the shelves I put this under and wondering… “Beth, how can a book be both contemporary and paranormal?!” And…you probably have a point. I’m not sure how exactly it works, but somehow, this book manages—and does it beautifully. For the most part, this IS contemporary—set in a juvenile delinquents facility. But…there’s this weird, intriguing play on the paranormal and on out-of-body experiences, as well, that I absolutely adored (because, you know, I’m all about the weird books!)

“You know when you’re sleeping, and you have that dream where you’re falling? My grandmother always said that’s just us, falling back into ourselves. We all drift a little outside ourselves when we dream.” She pauses. Looks back at me. “The rest of us just can’t go as far.”

The characters are vibrant and human: frustrating in their flaws, redeemable in their mistakes, and so easy to connect with you’ll find yourself immediately sucked into the pages. This book takes off from the very start, and doesn’t back down or slow until the last few pages.

And there is, surprisingly, more to be found here than the run-of-the-mill, “I’m innocent and was wrongly accused” story you might expect just reading the blurb. There are more secrets, there are more twists and turns and back-alley deals, than you might ever imagine. And all of this—every secret, every moment, every tiny detail—leads up to a fiery ending I didn’t see coming…and a conclusion both sweet and bitter in its knowledge.

This book WILL force you out of your comfort zone. It doesn’t back down or sugar coat the hard truths. It doesn’t try to make the characters into something they aren’t. What it does, is embrace the limbo between “good” and “bad” we all keep locked within ourselves. It plays upon human nature at its finest…and at its worst, and it leaves readers so floundered at the end—so perplexed with the sudden shift in perspective they’ve been given—that the book is bound to haunt them.

The pull is relentless. It wants me to let go. And for a minute, I think maybe I want that, too. The closer I am to myself, the harder it is to hold on. It hurts to see myself this closely. What if I can’t be fixed? I look to my battered face for an answer, but I can’t even make out my own eyes. I don’t know what I want beneath all these broken pieces. Or how much I’m willing to suffer for the consequences of what I’m about to do. All I know is I’d rather be trapped inside a broken body than face the unknown.

Once again, I stepped outside my comfort zone for a Disney-Hyperion book…and once again, I am LOVING myself for doing it. This book made me think. This book turned the world on its head (or maybe it turned ME on my head) and shuffled everything I thought I knew into a nonsensical order of “gray.” Nothing is ever black and white…and this book proves that. I recommend to readers of mystery, the paranormal, and books that leave you thinking. Take a chance on this one, guys—you won’t regret it!

7 thoughts on “A Review of Holding Smoke, by Elle Cosimano

  1. Pingback: Sunday Post (#12) – betwixt-the-pages

  2. Wow great review I absolutely love Elle Cosimano books especially her Nearly Gone duology I haven’t read Nearly Found yet but I am hopeful I can read it soon. Holding Smoke looks and sounds absolutely and totally fantastic now after reading your review I am very intrigued about it. I hope I can check out this book soon! Thank you for your awesome post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Goodness, thank you so much! This is the first book I’ve read by Elle Cosimano; I guess I’ll have to look into picking up some of her other works (starting with those you suggested!)

      Fingers crossed you love this book just as much, when you get the chance to pick it up! Thank you so much for stopping by / reading! ❤


  3. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday (#29) | betwixt-the-pages

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