Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1)
By Rachel Caine
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Genre: YA Fantasy
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. 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 knowledge is more valuable than any human life and soon both heretics and books will burn.
I am utterly, completely hooked! This was my first encounter with Rachel Caine’s work and she has sunk her writing claws deep into my reading heart. I was up past the midnight hour finishing this book because I simply could not reach a point where I was ready to put it down.
The Great Library regulates the public’s access to knowledge through the use of alchemy and blanks (imagine e readers under the Library’s control). To own an original work is strictly prohibited and comes with great risks. Jess Brightwell is a runner (deliverer of black market titles). Hi family supplies books to those who are willing to brave the potential threats if caught. When he is sent to the Great Library to train as part of his father’s efforts to place eyes and ears on the “inside”, he discovers his obedience and loyalty to his family will be put to the ultimate test. Jess thrives on knowledge and all that the Library aims to preserve. But when he uncovers just how far they will go and what they will sacrifice to protect this knowledge and their foothold, he will face the ultimate challenge.
Caine delivers a unique cast that is enduring and offers constant variety. There is a welcomed amount of diversity the works beautifully in engaging and connecting the reader. Jess Brightwell is intelligent and well-rounded but not without his own trials. His love for the written word and continuous struggle with family loyalty versus his morals and the Library provide a nice balance of tension and admiration that establishes him as credible, allowing a more personal link with the reader. The supporting characters are not without their own merit as they each contribute equally to the story.
While many of us are no stranger to dystopian worlds where books and reading are the center of conflict, Ink and Bone takes this familiar story and ups the ante to extreme heights. With an ever evolving plot that continues to thicken by the page, elements of a dynamic magic system and alchemy supply new facets that feed into what quickly becomes a truly original and compelling plot. Incorporating cultural factors and aspects of steampunk beautifully intermingled with libraries, black market books and even a war-zone in a constantly changing setting guarantee excitement.
I am including a note on the unabridged audio edition as I ended receiving this on audible as well, so I am reviewing both. Published by Recorded Books and narrated by Julian Elfer, it is approximately 10 hrs and 26 minutes in length. Elfer’s narration is outstanding and proved to add a deserved air and life to the story that only serves to enhance it. Accurately paced delivery and clear and concise dialog performance make this an ideal audiobook for fans.
Caine’s writing is clever and crisp. She sets a fluid and fast paced tone that fuels the adventure and creates an effortless experience. Events segue beautifully and her eye for detail leaves nothing for want other than the sequel! Ink and Bone is a fully immersive experience that promotes thought. It tackles and challenges the effects on society when governing systems attempt to manipulate or control knowledge. A must read for fans of dystopian fantasies who enjoy divergent stories!
*I would like to thank Blogging for Books and Crown Publishing Company for this book and opportunity. The above review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.
Learn more about the author at rachelcaine.com.