Series: The Great Library #1
Published by NAL on July 7th, 2015
Genres: alternate history, fantasy, young adult
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In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time.…
Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.
Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.
When he inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn.…
This is a 4.5, not a 5, and that’s just because I had a couple small world-building issues and characterization issues. They were so small, really, and didn’t affect my enjoyment of this brilliant, brilliant book at all.
I read the first two books of the Morganville Vamps series. I liked them. At some point I do intend to read the rest. But part of me can’t believe the same author wrote this book. That series is fun but a bit campy and it’s escapist fiction. This, on the other hand, LORD. Parts of it are escapist, yes, but it’s also incredibly well researched, loaded with historical value, and brings to light some terrifying themes that are going to stick in your head for a long, long time after finishing.
This is probably going to be my favorite book of 2015, by a landslide. I can’t believe I got lucky enough to read it before the rest of the masses. You will fall for Jess and the rest of the characters. You will be invested in their stories, and this epic plot that I truly believe only could be thought up by a master of her craft. We should only be so lucky to dream up ideas half as original as this.
I’m not big on romance, and I don’t really care if it is in my books at all. That said, what romance there was in this book was realistic, made sense within the context of the world, and it really worked. I felt it and it wasn’t cheesy at all. I can say that the female love interest–because our protagonist is male–is a little hard to get to know. That’s the one thing I wish this book had handled differently. I felt Morgan was kind of flat. By the end of the book, I really felt for her situation and it was tragic and horrible, but I still felt as if she was a complete mystery. And it was a bit odd for me because the rest of the characters were so dynamic and full of life.
This book has been compared to Harry Potter and The Book Thief. The comparisons are noted, and I see where the publisher is getting that, but it’s also, very, very different. Yes, there are a group of friends, and yes, they go through training together. That is where the comparison to Harry Potter ends, in my opinion. As for The Book Thief? Meh. The theme is soooort of similar, but I don’t find the books alike in any other aspect. I can tell you that Ink and Bone is very, very dark. It’s intense. There is some very ugly imagery and a very vivid war going on, especially in some of the later scenes. There are some truly terrifying villains/people in charge.
It’s impossible to review this book and give it the accolades it deserves. There are no words in the English language. And I can’t believe how long I have to wait until the next book comes out. I don’t even want to think about it. All I can say is this. Pre-order it now. This is a book you will want to keep on your shelves. You’ll probably read it over and over. You’ll think about it for a long time after turning the last page. And you’ll be waiting to find out what happens to Jess, Wolfe, and crew with bated breath.
One other small issue I want to squeeze in here before I close is this: there are steampunk elements to this story, and I am unclear how some things work. For the most part, I get how the library works, but what about those lights that took the place of flashlights at the end? How do they function? Do the obscurists make those go too? And how, exactly, do the obscurists do what they do? I know it was all a bit of a mystery, I just wanted more of a science-y explanation. I don’t like not knowing how the settings completely function? Like how did those stun guns work? And then, it’s also a bit of a stretch for me to believe that this world came to be just because the Library of Alexandria never got destroyed. Don’t get me wrong, I thought the world-building and ideas presented were freaking brilliant, but I’m a pretty practical person. It’s hard for me to stretch my mind that far. But once I was lost in the story, it kept its hooks in me and never let go. So, a point off for small issues I had.
But I’m adding back a half of a point for LGBTQ and diverse characters. Everyone should read this book. Literally everyone. But if I have to choose a book that is closest, i.e. a read-a-like, it’s The Bone Season and The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon. Fans of that series are gonna LOVE this.