Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1)
By Rachel Caine
Summary: 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 his friend 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…
Source: I purchased a hardcover.
Ink and Bone was an imaginative story. What if there was a library controlling the world and governing knowledge? It was set in the future, but a future that more closely resembled the past without the modern conveniences we are used to and without the easy access to books or any sort of information involving knowledge or wisdom.
Jess was a smuggler in a family of smugglers who sold original copies of books illegally. It was a dangerous job. Because of his love for actually reading the books, his family decided he would be the perfect spy inside of the Library as a Scholar, so they sent him to the Great Library in Alexandria to train. While Jess already had a negative view of the Library from his close calls with them during his illegal activities, the Library was generally considered to be good.
But it wasn’t and there was a whole lot of corruption and issues inside of the Library that sent Jess on quite the adventure.
The premise of the book is a lot more intriguing and gripping than the book itself, though I did enjoy it for the most part. It took me over half of the book to really get into it and even then, it didn’t quite envelope me the way a good book typically does. Which is weird because I really love the premise. The idea that a great library would exist and squash all ideas of giving out or selling information to the public is certainly intriguing and it is also a bit of twist for book lovers to imagine librarians as the bad guys, so I was totally on board with all of that.
I don’t know that I truly connected with any of the characters and I think that’s ultimately what made this more of a mediocre read than a favorite for me. There was so much potential for it to be great, but a lot of the character building was lacking and the world building was lacking as well. I felt like I had a pretty good idea about the world when the book ended, but it took me awhile to get there. In many ways, it felt as if I knew what was going to happen. Like the Erudite faction in Divergent, the people running the library were smug and felt their ways were the right ways. Like the government in any dystopian setting, the seemingly perfect Library that guards and admires knowledge is really not the great and benevolent force one would expect when it has you in its sights. But there was more going on than a classroom and a Library and I think that’s exactly where the author failed to grip me because none of the conflict was truly explained. I never felt invested in the lives of the characters or truly understand what anyone faced aside from the man in the train station and Jess at the beginning of the book. I found more out about the library within the excerpts and transmissions between chapters. There was a ton of room for improvement for the author to weave a tale that could truly set the stage.
If you are a quick reader, I recommend Ink and Bone. It was a decent book with an interesting premise, but if you are a slow reader, it is dry and very difficult to get into.