Thursday, May 12, 2016

Book Review: Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

I received a free ecopy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Ink and Bone
Series: The Great Library #1
Author: Rachel Caine
Publisher: NAL (Penguin Group)
Publication Date: July 7, 2015
Source: Netgalley
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...

My Thoughts:
Jess is ten years old and a runner for his father's illegal book-selling business when he sees an 'ink-licker' destroy an original, physical, ink and paper book. It was the most disturbing this he's ever witnessed; even worse than the Burner he saw set himself on fire. He cannot understand why anyone would destroy a book. When his father sends him into the Library's service, Jess feels like he's finally in the right place. But he soon learns that the Library is just as dangerous as the rest of the world and there are secrets within that he isn't meant to learn if he values his life. 

When I first saw the synopsis for Ink and Bone I knew I had to read it. What book lover could pass up a book about books? What better character is there than one that you can entirely relate to in your love for books?
I remember learning about the Library of Alexandria and it's destruction in my early teen years and wondering just what was lost and how different our world would be today if we still had all of that ancient knowledge. Rachel Caine has taken that question and given us her own brilliant idea that is Ink and Bone as an answer.
The world building in this book is a modern book lover's worst nightmare. A world in which it is illegal to own an actual book. Sure, we could have 'blanks' and still read, but owning a physical book with ink on actual pages with that beautiful old (or new) book smell would lead us straight to the gallows! As horrible as it is that the Great Library was destroyed, I. Do. Not. Want. To. Live. In. This. World.
But reading about it was a lot of fun. Imagining this futuristic world that is also trapped in time, so to speak, was very interesting. There's teleportation, codexes (which I imagined to be like smart phones), 'blanks' (which I imagined to be like Kindles), automatons, and more. At the same time, time itself seems to be at a stand still, as if we were stuck in a long-past century.

The premise of this book really drew me in but the worldbuilding was a bit lacking. There wasn't much imagery included so I imagined a mash up of ancient buildings with futuristic commodities. Instead of descriptions about buildings, clothing, etc., we get a plethora of social titles such as Runners, Burners, Ink-lickers, Garda, Scholars, Archivists, and more. I think those 'titles' are what made this book so interesting.  

I really enjoyed how diverse the characters are. I haven't read many books that include so many cultures, religions, and sexual orientations. For once, a big group of characters didn't all come from the same place and have the same values, beliefs, and languages. That was so refreshing!

The ending was a little disappointing, as I felt like there maybe should have been a cliffhanger to really draw us into the next book but at the same time, it did leave us wondering what's next.

I'm very interested in reading the sequel and finding out more about this mash-up of futuristic, historical, and slightly fantastical elements. I have lots of questions that I hope will be answered and I'm eager to jump back into this world and see what else is in store for Jess and the others.

This is one alternate history that you are definitely going to want to read! 


  1. I see this one around SO much and I haven't picked it up yet, I'm sorry to say. I want to but aarrghh that TBR pile is already squishing me. xD

    1. It's such a unique book! I'd definitely recommend it if you like reading books about books and alternate histories!