YA Book Reviews

Ink & Bone by Rachel Caine

I received this book from Berkley Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Goodreads for hosting this giveaway in support of Rachel’s new novel, Paper and Fire (The Great Library #2), out July 5th.

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.

Have you ever imagined what it would be like if the Great Library of Alexandria still existed? Centuries of knowledge was lost during the Roman conquest of Egypt, and the burning of the great library is still known today as a symbol for the loss of cultural knowledge in the world. Rachel Caine takes this idea and ignites it, gifting us with this imaginative tale about the library surviving against flame and war – and going on to control the history of the our world. 

We live in a time that’s seeing a major decline in independent bookstores and library usage. As a librarian myself, I believe holding onto these bookstores and avoiding library gentrification is incredibly crucial for preserving knowledge and history for our future. Ink and Bone goes next level with this belief. There is a carefully controlled Codex system, with a type of tablet anyone can access Archivist-approved books from. However, owning books yourself is strictly prohibited. There are even people who go as far as to eat books – a horrifying perversion of consuming something rare and valuable like an original copy of a book. There is also no such thing as a printing press. Not for lack of trying, mind you; there are quite a number of “upstarts” who submit this to the Archivist thinking it is a wonderful and progressive idea, and are imprisoned or killed for going against the grain of society, including one of my favorite characters in this novel.

I was floored. Themes of oppression and privilege, worth and consequence are all expertly explored through Jess’s lens, as an intelligent British teenager who goes on to become an integral part of the Library’s all-consuming goal to control the preservation of knowledge. The other students are equally inventive and well developed: Khalila, an Arab woman who earned a perfect score on the Library examination that got her into the program [From my book notes: “Rep that Arab pride yaaass queen!”]; Thomas, a gentle giant of a German lad with a knack for engineering; Glain, a powerfully built and expressive Welsh girl; Dario, a clever Spanish bastard in his own right; and Morgan, a mysterious late addition to the group with secrets that could destroy them all. Scholar Wolfe and his co-instructor (and best friend forever) Captain Santi are the advisors that pushed the team together and broke my heart as the book went on, and I loved them all the more for it.

I devoured this book. Aside from being slow at times, and doing next to nothing with Jess’s family (which is supposed to be important, but it’s barely explored), I found Ink and Bone to be strange, full of anticipation, and absolutely captivating. Recommended to all of my fellow bibliophiles and librarians of the world.

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2 thoughts on “Ink & Bone by Rachel Caine

  1. Oh good! I just read this book as well and LOVED it. I recommended it to fans of books, I just couldn’t imagine book lovers not liking this (although, i guess it could happen). Great review! I am so looking forward to Paper and Fire!!!

    Like

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