BOOK REVIEW – Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1) by Rachel CaineInk and Bone (The Great Library #1)
by Rachel Caine
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Synopsis:

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.…

In my honest opinion the strength of Ink and Bone lies first in the plot, which is entertaining as hell, and in the world-building, which contains several of my main interests : think books, automatons, alchemy, a dystopian world ruled by Librarians who control every knowledge (or aim to) and an academy blended together. Exciting? FUCK YEAH.

Random facts you might want to know about Ink and Bone (because there’s no way I’m spoiling the story for you)

✔ After reading I went to my bookshelves and HUGGED my paperbacks. Not my Kindle. The thing kind of scared me.

✔ It presents an alternative history that actually MAKES SENSE (most of the time) : think about our history with a twist, the uprising of the Great Library, an organization that controls every book and then, holds a great deal of power. No press. No Gutenberg. I know, *GASP*

✔ Oh, they have lions automatons as guards : HOW AWESOME IS THAT???

✔ I loved the concept of Codex and every invention, really. I don’t want to give away too much, but let’s say that the Great Library developed a number of mechanisms, first of all the ability to transfer and erase words on every book sold, because they’re all blanks, sort of ereaders controlled by the Library awhile originals are carefully kept in Alexandria. An example? Look at your book, and imagine that it would be possible for someone else to alter or erase its content in one second without even being at the same place as you. OMG BUT THAT’S POSSIBLE! Frightening, right? I thought so. Especially given that printed books are outlawed.

Concerning the characterization, I have to admit that I’m not completely convinced by it because it lacks of depth. Indeed the characters felt quite blank sometimes – not in a boring way, but they weren’t fleshed-out enough in my opinion, especially the secondary ones like Jess’s fellow students, who were border stereotypical on some aspects. That’s why I’d have wanted them to be less transparent in their intentions and more intricate. However, I did enjoy Wolfe’s character a lot, because he was complex and multi-layered : here’s the kind of characters I can love.

“I suppose you want me to apologize for calling you a bastard.”
“No need,” Santi said. “You should hear what his friends call him.”
” I have friends?” Wolfe said.
“They don’t care to admit it in public.”

As for Jess, the main character, I’m afraid that my complaints prove to be the same. Indeed although I can’t say that I didn’t care about him because it would be false, at the same time I can’t deny that I kept feeling that something was missing to completely win me. Oh, well. I don’t know. Perhaps I’m not used to that kind of books (which emphasizes on the plot, let’s say) anymore. Indeed almost every one of my favorite authors (Marchetta, Moskowitz, Robin Hobb, even) focus primarily on the characterization and that’s okay with me, because that’s what I seek most of the time. Not here : not that Jess’s character wasn’t interesting, but he never stood out either. Now, perhaps does it serve the story’s purpose, in a way? Concerning his personality, he’s not flawless and I’m glad he isn’t : indeed he makes mistakes, he has at first a restrained vision of the world (yes, he’s sometimes full of shit stereotypes, but now, he’s 16, give him a break) but how in the world could it be different, tell me? From his upbringing spent as a smuggler for his family’s business to his training in the Academy, he has always been used, and genuinely doesn’t know how to deal with real relationships. However something about him rubbed me the wrong way, and that’s the fact that he cares about books more than people. Well, even as a book lover (no shit) it made me a little uncomfortable at times, I must confess. Fortunately it doesn’t stay that way, because despite the fact that books are rare in his world, I wouldn’t have stand a character who happily watches people getting starved and killed because of books. Sorry guys. I’m TEAM HUMANS. (I’m French, after all. Yes, that’s relevant. You’ll see)

But then, little by little, he evolves. Day after day, he realizes that the world is not near as simple as he thought he was. Page after page, we get to know him better, to understand him more. Chapter after chapter, the choices he has to face become more and more difficult and the lines between right or wrong blur… For that, I thank you, Rachel Caine. For that, I’m eager to read the next book because I feel how strong his potential can be.

Finally, for most of the book, I got the feeling that the romance was… Well… I’d say “low-cute”. What is it, you’re asking? It means that I’m happy for them, kind of, but I don’t care and to me it was unnecessary since the author openly didn’t focus on it, so much that the story would have been as great without it. Now, (don’t hit me) but that’s what I thought about the romance in Harry Potter too. I just don’t care. That’s not why I loved the books. So, yeah, I wasn’t a big fan of this romance which stayed in no-chemistry territory, until, until, until suddenly I started to feel something, and that was as glorious as unexpected.

Now, and that’s something I rarely write, but to me the pacing was perfection : I was never EVER bored and the writing just flowed smoothly, making the read completely addictive, and some parts were so full of tension that my heartbeat increased.

PS : French are rebels, eat lambs and drink red wine : of course they do >.<
PS2 : No, Dario, Spanish wine isn’t better than Cahors. DUH.
PS3 : I might be (a little) subjective. MAY-BE.

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