4 out of 4 stars
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“What? What is this? My consciousness has been condemned to a hole in the ground for 3,000 years and now you’re trivializing my existence with a simple book review? I don’t think so! Jake, relax, let me take over, things are about to get messy! This reviewer is going to pay!”
“Smith, stop it. The readers of this review have no idea what you are talking about yet. They don’t even know what the book is about. Let the reviewer complete his job and perhaps he’ll be singing your praises.”
The interaction above, although tongue and cheek here, is one that is repeated over and over again throughout Smith by Sam B Miller II. Our protagonist, Jake, is currently living in Israel with his Father, an archaeologist with Harvard. On one rebellious evening, frustrated about being forced to live in Israel against his will, he wanders through the archaeological site. He, while trying to evade discovery by others on the site, stumbles upon the ancient relic that scientists, world rulers, and tyrants alike have been searching for over the last 3,000 years: the famed ring of Solomon.
The ring of Solomon gives the bearer great powers, but it comes at a cost: Smith. When Jake puts on the ring, he discovers that Smith (the name actually given is Smannanelcannic, but Jake can’t pronounce that) is the interface that communicates telepathically with the wearer of the ring, can control the ring's powers, and generally has very big plans for the wearer’s domination over the entire world. Smith has been cooped up for the last 3,000 years (ever since he filled this role for King Solomon himself), still has the social mindset of one who ruled in the time of the ancient Israelites, and is pretty much a megalomaniac. His cheeky dialogue with Jake (who is the only one that can hear him), his penchant for violence as a default response to antagonism, and his innate need to create a hero out of Jake, makes this relationship both fun and explosive (in many cases literally). In order to see how Jake handles his power, how Smith guides our young Padawan, and what becomes of Solomon’s ring, you’ll have to pick this one up for yourself.
This relatively short novel was a whirlwind of action, intrigue, and humor. My favorite part of the book is easily the interaction between Jake and Smith. You can just picture a snarky 18-year-old interacting with a disembodied, nearly omnipotent voice from 3,000 years ago, and see how much of the dialogue can be cheeky and amusing. Next, the action in this book was nearly non-stop. Ever since he came into possession of the ring Jake’s life has become a veritable battle royal. Between those trying to take the ring from him, those trying to protect him, and those to whom he has to prove himself, there are more than enough enemies on which Smith can demonstrate the ring’s power. Finally, despite its length, the book was able to keep me guessing throughout. Several times while reading this book I thought I had the twists figured out only to change my mind again mere pages later. This book really has a bit of everything.
I really have to stretch my imagination to find things to criticize in this book. There were only a handful of grammatical/spelling errors that I came across and they were definitely not enough to detract from my enjoyment of the novel. The thing that I liked the least about this book really counts as a positive point: it was too short. Clocking in at a mere 260 pages by Amazon’s count (but actually much shorter due to the way the Smith/Jake interactions are written), Sam B Miller II had me drooling for more. I’m sure the author could have expanded his novel into a longer, more robust work that could challenge even the best of its genre. Finally, one cautionary note needs to be mentioned. Although it wasn’t off-putting to me, there is a significant amount of violence and gore in this book. Smith and Jake use the ring to its full capacity often and the result is not pretty.
Based on the humor, the intelligent backstory, and the non-stop action, I have no qualms whatsoever giving Smith 4 out of 4 stars. It was based on actual history/lore and was able to fully engage me throughout the short time it took to read this story. Quite frankly, I hardly put it down once I started. I will certainly be keeping my eye out for future books by this author. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone that likes action in their books, enjoys a bit of humor when reading, and doesn’t mind a quick read. On the other hand, if you are squeamish, don’t like violence in your books, or are a younger reader, perhaps you should find a different story.
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