Title: Ink and Bone
Author: Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library, #1
Format: Paperback, bought
My rating: 5 / 5
Knowledge is power. Power corrupts.
In a world where the ancient Great Library of Alexandria was never destroyed, knowledge now rules the world: freely available, but strictly controlled. Owning private books is a crime.
Jess Brightwell is the son of a black market book smuggler, sent to the Library to compete for a position as a scholar . . . but even as he forms friendships and finds his true gifts, he begins to unearth the dark secrets of the greatest, most revered institution in the world.
Those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn. . .
-- As seen on Goodreads
When I first read the synopsis for Ink and Bone, my expectations were set very high: it’s a book about books after all! Add in the concept that The Great Library of Alexandria was never destroyed and they control all the knowledge in the world, and I knew I had to get my hands on it as quickly as possible. Beginning reading with really high expectations can be quite daunting, and it was such a huge relief that I ended up LOVING Ink and Bone – it was easily one of my favourite reads of 2015. I’ve been chipping away at the Morganville Vampire series over the past year or so, and I can’t believe the same author wrote both works – Ink and Bone is so much better!
The best way I can describe Ink and Bone is that it’s like a futuristic historical dystopian with a pinch of steampunk story, where owning original books is illegal and The Great Library of Alexandria controls the flow of all knowledge in the world. Everybody, regardless of age, sex, race or class has access to the knowledge stored within the Library in the form of blanks. The world-building throughout the book was amazing! It’s very intricate with lots of information to take in, but it’s described and presented in a way that makes it really easy to absorb. If anything, it only made me want to learn even more about the world! Also, I loved the writing style. It held my attention continuously and consistently. I really liked the little snippets of information in the form of Ephemera between chapters that helped to round out the story.
The prologue begins with Jess, the son of a black market book smuggler, who is assigned as a runner, to (literally) run with illegal books through the streets of London and deliver them to their clients. His father gives him an ultimatum when he shows no interest in following in his footsteps: join the library as a scholar and become the eyes and ears within for the family, or be disowned. The book is written in the third person, and we get to see over Jess’s shoulder as the story unfolds. I really liked his narration (even though I kept calling him Jesse in my mind!) I really liked that he was self-assured and self-confident without coming across as an arrogant prick. It made him really likeable, and I was rooting for him throughout the story.
I’ve got to say, the characters were fabulous right across the board. There was loads of diversity, and the book had a wonderful cosmopolitan feel. Considering the tensions and competitive nature that’ll naturally develop when a bunch of ambitious students are learning, studying and living together 24/7, I LOVED how mature they appeared. If they had a problem or personalities clashes, it’s dealt with there and then, rather than dragging on throughout the entire book. The students are a unit, and they stick together when it matters most despite any personal issues with each other. My favourite character, though, was Wolfe. I loved seeing his story slowly revealed. Right from the beginning, we could see there was more to him that initially meets the eye, and I loved that my opinion of him changed so much throughout the story.
I’m actually struggling to come up with something I didn’t enjoy… which is kind of awesome! The only thing that I had a tiny issue with was that a few of the secondary characters didn’t feel as developed as much as the central ones, but in honesty, this didn’t negatively influence my feelings on the story as a whole. Overall, I loved Ink and Bone, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next!