29 October, 2016

REVIEW: INK AND BONE by Rachel Caine

Title: Ink and Bone
Author: Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library #1
Genres: Fantasy, YA, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Allison & Busby
Source: Kindle Edition
Pages: 368

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SYNOPSIS: Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time.

In 48 AD, a fire set by the troops of Julius Caesar destroyed much of the Great Library of Alexandria. It was the first of several disasters that resulted in the destruction of the accumulated knowledge of the ancient world. But what if the fire had been stopped? What would the Library have become? Fast forward: the Great Library is now a separate country, protected by its own standing army. It has grown into a vast power, with unquestioned and unrivalled supremacy. Jess Brightwell, seventeen and very smart, with a gift for mechanical engineering, has been sent into the Great Library as a spy for his criminal family.

Magical spells and riots abound in this epic new YA series.
This book had been sitting for a while on my TBR but I remember that the first thing that caught my eye was the cover, and then I read the synopsis and thought "a book about books? must read". It didn't disappoint me a bit.

THE WORLD: It's set in an alternative historical universe. Basically is our world and history but the Great Library of Alexandria was never destroyed so it continued gaining power and in 2025 it rules the world (a little bit like the Vatican to be honest). The thing is that the Library owns every single book and having an original copy is illegal! You can only have copies of books which are called "blanks." Also, the books and copying them don't really work with printing because the printer was never invented because the Library vanishes everyone who comes up with the idea. They work with alchemy. It's supposed to be science but it sounds in between science and magic to be honest. The only people who can do it are rare, not a lot of them are born, and they're called Obscurists. The Library has them locked up in the Iron Tower.
A couple more things... the English and the Welsh are in an ongoing civil war for 50 years and the anti-Library people are called Burners and want to destroy all the Library system.

CHARACTERS: The main character is Jess Brightwell, a 17 year old boy who grew up smuggling original books, which are the most prized possessions, along with his twin brother Brandon. He's very into books though and hates the idea of damaging one. He's also very smart so his family pays for him to try the Library test so that if he makes it inside he could act as a spy/smuggler. What a horrible family. Anyway, Jess makes the cut so he goes to Alexandria to learn about the Library and he meets other fellow students there. They're a lot but I'll just briefly mention them: there is Thomas Schribber from Germany and he's a ray of sunshine, such a nice guy!; there is Khalila Saif, an arab girl who scored 100% on the test. The only person ever, you go girl!; next is Dario who is from Spain and he acts like the typical snooty brat archnemesis of the main character... (what a great view of Spain wow how ironic); then we have a few more who are not that important and finally we have Morgan, Christopher Wolfe, and Santi. Morgan is a mysterious girl who arrives late to the training and is full of secrets, then Wolfe is the proctor aka mentor of the kids, and finally Santi who is the High Garda (captain of the guard).

NOTE: My apologies. I don't remember all last names.

LOVE: Not much love. There are a few pairings which are very straight forward but toned-down because they're not the focus at all.

PLUS: The concept of the Library was stunning and how power can get into every single institution in the world. I think the world building was magnificent as well, very rich and detailed. I loved how the world was still ours but seemed a bit stuck in time... since the Library has views stuck in middle ages they technology was stuck as well, and society was very screwed up. It all seemed medieval even though it is 2025. Not medieval in terms of housing or technological advance but in the views and methods and how alchemy is science... it was weird but very cool!

MINUS: I think my only objection is that none of the characters stood out particularly to me. Maybe there were too many in this book. I don't know but I didn't really connect with any of them.

OVERALL: 4.5 stars. Except for the characters I really enjoyed this book and I'm looking forward reading the next one, Paper and Fire, which came out recently! 

What did you guys think about INK AND BONE?