Release Date: July 7, 2015
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
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.
"When you steal a book, you steal from the world."
"Lives are short, but knowledge is eternal."
Ink and Bone begins a brand new series called The Great Library. Caine creates an alternative history environment where The Great Library of Alexandria is still standing, and more powerful than any government entity on the planet. Ink and Bone introduces readers to 16-year old Jess Brightwell who lives in 2031 London. Jess grew up running illegal books to those who can afford the luxury of owning original books, and is also heir to the Brightwell empire.
But, that all changes when Jess passes a placement test to get into the next class of Postulants. It also means that he's expected to SPY for his father while there. Over the course of a grueling schedule of testing, only 6 individuals will be placed within the Library. The rest will be sent home. I really liked the way Jess is written. He's in a tough spot. He can either satisfy his father, or be loyal to the library. If he's loyal to his father, then the library might find a way to send him home where he really doesn't want to be.
If he's loyal to the library, friends might find themselves in harms way. There really isn't any in-between. He has to work harder than most, but he loves books, understands their importance, and has seen how people will do almost anything to own them. Because of Jess's families connections, he can also be in a unique spot to help save his friends. Jess does have a minor romantic interlude with one of the secondary characters who I will mention shortly, but I don't really see where that's anything long term.
Keeping my review short of details is kind of hard. You see, the Library pretty much controls everything. The Library OWNS everyone's memories, but nobody is supposed to own any books. Everyone is required to write down their memories and thoughts in a sort of electronic diary which are then stored within the Library. Postulants learn how the Library really works and what is truly expected from them if they are chosen for one of the 6 slots. The training really is intense, especially when you are facing those who might even be smarter than yourself. There are those who watch your every movement to see if you are a Burner or a traitor. You might even find yourself in a very harsh war zone where you are expected to protect the library at all costs.
The secondary characters you need to be aware of are Thomas Schrieber. He's a bloody brilliant engineer, and perhaps Jess's best friend at the Library. Khalila Seif is the first woman to receive a perfect score, but don't take her at face value. She's so much more. Glain Wather is a Welsh girl who doesn't get along with Jess due to an ongoing English/Welsh war. Dario Santiago is Jess's roommate, and a bit of a snob. Scholar Christopher Wolfe isn't exactly a role model and there's a whole lot more than meets the eye test. He's ruthless in his training but not in a way that intentionally puts anyone at risk. Morgan Hault arrives a bit later than anyone and has a major secret she's trying to hide. Her story is one to keep an eye on.
The story itself is told in the third person narrative. You will discover that each of the characters I've mentioned are brilliant in their own way. They have something to prove, especially the two women. Caine has created a fairly impressive world. Whenever an author writes about something like the Great Library of Alexandria that once existed, you need to take care with your subject. The reality is that the Great Library's loss was devastating to the world. I really was a bit shocked by the ending of this book. I feel for Morgan, and Jess most of all. Will definitely be keeping eye out for the release of the next installment.
**I received this book for free from Penguin/NAL in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**