Monday, July 6, 2015

Review: Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library, Book 1
Publisher: NAL
Genre: YA Fantasy/Futuristic Ink and Bone Cover
ISBN: 9780451472397
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

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…

Ink and Bone is an exhilarating, brilliantly crafted read that will grab you by the throat and not let go. The world of Rachel Caine’s Great Library is both beautiful and sinister, a place where knowledge seems free but costs the ultimate price, where the shining example of mankind’s greatest achievements hides a rot that has spread for millennia.

In the world of Ink and Bone, the Great Library of Alexandria was never destroyed. It now operates as its own powerful entity, separate and above nations, with a Serapeum in every major city. People are free to download books instantly, but they can never own them. The Library controls the dissemination of knowledge, stifling progress through deadly forms of censorship. Few truly see the rot within, but those who do are considered terrorists who must be eliminated.

Jess Brightwell comes from a family of black market book dealers. He loves learning, loves books, and when he’s sent to train to be in service to the library, he’s thrilled. Even knowing he’s meant to be a spy to help the family business doesn’t do much to derail his excitement. But from the first moment of his training, Jess can see that all is not right in Alexandria. I absolutely loved uncovering the secrets of the Library alongside Jess. A world where libraries are everywhere and knowledge is easily accessible sounds amazing, doesn’t it? But what if those in power from the start decided that humanity had to be guided, to be told what to learn. What if innovation was carefully monitored and things we take for granted – like the printing press – were destroyed before they could be shown to the world? Ms. Caine asks all these questions and more. Each step of Jess’s journey has surprises, and each new facet of the Library uncovered is intriguing. I hesitate to say too much about the plot of Ink and Bone because so much of what I loved about the story was watching the twists and turns of the book unfold. Suffice it to say that Ink and Bone never lacks for intense action coupled with emotional punches that will resonate with readers.

Though Ms. Caine’s gorgeous worldbuilding would make Ink and Bone well worth the read on its own, it’s the characters who are the heart of the story, the ones who take the tale from excellent to exceptional. Jess is a smart, cautious teenager who ages before his time right before our very eyes. His intelligence, inner strength, and caring make him a compelling hero, one who is easy to root for. Jess is our eyes and ears in the Library, but his fellow postulants are just as engaging. Ink and Bone is a culturally diverse novel, which adds richness and depth to the world and makes the characters all the more interesting and unique. Khalila’s incredible brilliance, Morgan’s quiet bravery, Thomas’s inventiveness, Glain’s straightforwardness, Guillame’s secrets, and even Dario’s tempestuousness drew me to them, keeping me on the edge of my seat as each of them faces danger alongside Jess. It’d be remiss of me not to mention the two adults who play the biggest roles in their lives. Niccolo Santi, a High Garda commander, is as loyal as they come and will risk anything for those he cares about. And then there’s Scholar Christopher Wolfe, the postulants’ teacher, a mysterious man who seems cold and calculating, but is no two-dimensional authority figure. Wolfe just might be my favorite character in the book; the more I learned about him, the more compelling the story became. The intertwining relationships of all these characters makes Ink and Bone shine. Where the Library is cold, hard reason, they are life, emotion, and hope.

Love, friendship, and tested loyalties complement the action in Ink and Bone, making it a truly well-rounded story. The only problem I had with the book is that I finished it wanting to know what happens next. The Library must change, but will Jess and his friends live long enough to see that happen? I can only hope so, for Ms. Caine definitely keeps you guessing. I absolutely loved Ink and Bone and I cannot wait to see where Ms. Caine takes our beloved heroes next!

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.