ARC Review: Hellraisers by Alexander Gordon Smith

ARC Review: Hellraisers by Alexander Gordon Smith
The Devil's Engine #1
by Alexander Gordon Smith

Genres: Horror, Young Adult
Publication date: December 1st, 2015
by Farrar Straux and Giroux (BYR)

Format: ARC


Amazon | Book Depository

There is a machine from the darkest parts of history, concealed in an impossible location, that can make any wish come true, and the only price you have to pay is your soul. Known as the Devil’s Engine, this device powers a brutal war between good and evil that will decide the fate of every living thing on Earth. When a 16-year-old asthmatic kid named Marlow Green unwittingly rescues an ass-kicking secret soldier from a demonic attack in the middle of his Staten Island neighborhood, he finds himself following her into a centuries-old conflict between a group of mysterious protectors and the legions of the Devil himself. Faced with superpowers, monsters, machine guns, and a lot worse, Marlow knows it's going to be a breathless ride—and not just because he’s lost his inhaler along the way.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Immediate Reaction After Finishing Book

Hellraisers drew me in because of its intriguing premise and while I loved the world building I never managed to fall in love with the book. There is definitely potential in the series and by the end of the book, I was hooked, I just wanted more from the book as a whole.

What I Liked

  • World building. The idea of a machine that can grant any wish at a cost is so intriguing and the author totally did this idea justice. My favorite bits in the novel were when we got to learn more about the machine and it’s powers. I love the way it isn’t just a fantastical thing but that it becomes scientific in the way engineers and lawyers approach it.
  • Lack of romance. If there had been a romance it would have been instalove and I am glad that it didn’t happen. It could but right now, all we have is an unrequited crush and that’s fun too because then we get to see a relationship develop as opposed to a romance that doesn’t make sense.

What could have been better (i.e. things that were just okay)

  • The Characters. I had a really hard time relating to the main character, Marlow. I also didn’t like Pan, the other main character. Marlow was hard to relate to because he had no drive. This characteristic is essential to his character so I don’t know if my annoyance is a good thing or not, I do know that I wanted to shake him most of the time. It’s why his development doesn’t do much for me. Also he totally mistreated Charlie–his best friend–and it pissed me off. My problem with Pan was that she transitions too quickly from an ice-queen to someone who has too many feelings and it made her development almost unbelievable to me. It’s kind of hard to explain and I am doing a bad job at explaining anyway so I am going to stop.
  • The pacing/plot. I didn’t like that it took half of the book for us to finally be introduced to the world of the engine. I did like the realisticness of Marlow’s reactions but I was so excited to just see the world of the engine (the lawyers, engineers, the actual engine, etc.) that his inability to believe started rubbing on me. This is mostly a ‘me’ thing since I am impatient and prefer when things move quickly (although not too quickly because if a book is rushed then that’s no fun at all.) The plot was also paced weirdly in that the first half of the book took forever and the second half seemed to fly by, almost too quickly. I also felt like there wasn’t a proper overarching plot? Like I had no real idea where the book was going until the end, not because there was some major twist that changed my entire perception of the novel but because there wasn’t always consistency throughout the novel.

The difference between the ‘What I liked’ and the ‘What Could Have Been Better’ might make you think I mostly didn’t like the book but that isn’t true. I liked it okay, it’s just that nothing about it really grabbed at me and made me go WOWZA, THIS IS AMAZEBALLS and that’s kind of what I expected given the novel’s amazing blurb. The ending did really up the stakes though so I am going to continue with the series and see what awaits for these characters in the future novels.

Rating Report
Overall: 3.2
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Rashika is a mysterious creature who likes to hide in the shadows. It's impossible to get to know her but if you must know, she is a huge bookworm. She also happens to have a huge sweet tooth so you can always lure her over the dark side by offering her something sweet (or bribing her with books).


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    • Rashika says

      EH. There will always be many more awesome books! I read Thicker Than Water after I finished this one though and that was fun but still not amazing so I think it was just a weird thing happening. We cannot love every single book we read *sighs*

    • Rashika says

      I am hoping that is a thing that will happen! I really do like the world of the book and am not ready to say goodbye since I want to know how things will work out. Hopefully, book 2 will be what the first wasn’t :D

    • Rashika says

      I saw that you actually added it to GR and that made me happy! I know how long your tbr is and if you get around to reading it, I hope you’ll have better luck than I did, Cait! :D

  1. says

    Ooh, I had no idea the author had a new series coming out. Not all that thrilled with the cover though, it looks more like an indie release. I really enjoyed his Escape from Furnace series, so interested to grab a copy once this is released. It doesn’t sound as engaging though, so hopefully after the first book introduction it starts to pick up speed. I don’t have much patience with slow world building either, but so happy to hear it isn’t ruined by a horrid romance. Awesome review Rashika, looking forward to grabbing a copy <3
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    • Rashika says

      I was actually thinking more of a cheesy NA cover? With the half naked men. I was staring at the cover for a while the other day and the shape of the dude’s arms started weirding me out a little. Maybe I have too much time on my hands…

      THANK YOU! I actually want to go back and read his Escape from the Furnace series because those books sounds amazing!

  2. says

    That gif made me snort Rashika:) I’ve read a string of books lately that have left me feeling that exact same way, and it’s starting to really bum me out! I want something that’s going to blow my mind and have me staying up way too late to read, and I haven’t found that in a while. It sounds like this one was a pretty middle of the road read, but hopefully the next book will wow you in the way this one didn’t:)
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    • Rashika says

      YAY! It was kind of hard to find a gif that fit perfectly but then I saw this one and felt like it was ‘the one.’ When I was reading this book, I read a bunch of other mediocre books around the same time and FINALLY read something a couple days ago that blew my mind. :D