Ink and Bone
Author: Rachel Caine
Publisher: NAL, 352 Pages
Publication Date: July 7, 2015
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.
Pam and I read this book as part of our local book club. We all agreed it was a great overall book with a few strengths but also a few weaknesses we hope get addressed as the series moves forward.
One of the things I liked best was also one of the things I found confusing. There were aspects of the book that made it feel as if it was set back in time, maybe around the late 1800's. On the other hand, the book was clearly set in the future. The switching between historical ways of doing things and the imagined world Caine creates kept me off balance. While there is a "romantic" plot line it is such a small part of this first book that it was a nice change from some of the other books I have been reading lately. Unfortunately, the limited time spent on that relationship also made it difficult to understand the strength of what the two felt for one another. Even though I don't often enjoy books from a male point of view I truly enjoyed getting to know Jess and trying to figure out his motivation. His relationship with his family, particularly his brother, is something I definitely look forward to learning more about as the series progresses. My last comment is a positive nod and thank you to Cain for including a gay character whose sexuality simply exists without being a defining part of the storyline.
What I liked most about this book is that books are so important and are such an integral part of the plot. The world the author has created is fascinating, although I did have questions that weren't explicitly answered and I kind of had to fill in the blanks myself. I viewed the Library as the government and the government is in complete control of knowledge because it has all of the books, the physical books. The way people read is through the Library and they all sort of have Kindle like readers. What wasn't entirely clear to me is whether the Library declines requests and whether it actually changes the books that people read versus the real book. I decided that that had to be the way it worked and that it made sense given the plot of the book and how powerful the Library was.
Loved the politics and the characters, although I didn't feel like we got to know them that well, mostly because the book is told in the limited POV of Jess. This is one of those books that would have been better with multiple POVs. But that's probably a personal preference of mine.
All in all, I definitely recommend this series and I can't wait to read the next one!