Title: Ink and Bone
Author: Rachel Caine
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Allison and Busby
Publication Date: 26th August 2015
Rating: 4/5 stars
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…
In this world, books are LITERALLY the most important thing ever! How could I not love it? Though the librarians are kind of evil, and individuals aren’t allowed to own their own books. I’d definitely be in trouble….
The world Caine has created is absolutely AWESOME! Although it sounds pretty idealistic, a world where knowledge is power and books are sacred, corruption is rife and the overarching rule of the Library is terrifying!
Jess Brightwell is our main character – the son of a book smuggler, he is scarred the day he witnesses a man eating the last copy of Aristotle’s On Sphere Making. These people are the world’s perverts – it was an intriguing introduction to Caine’s world (occurring in the prologue) and one of the most poignant moments of the whole book. The explanation from the ‘ink-licker’ stuck with me throughout the book:
‘I have fellows who spend fortunes to slay the last living example of a rare animal and serve it for a dinner party. There’s no act of possession more complete than consuming the unique. It’s mine now. It will never be anyone else’s.’
Jess applies to join the library’s ranks, encouraged by his father, who wants an inside man. He is successful and is invited to Alexandria to study. He meets his cohort, and his teacher, Scholar Wolfe. The characters are excellent creations, and the cultural and social differences are written very well. Wolfe is a nasty piece of work to begin with, but I could tell there was more to him from the beginning.
The pacing of the story was a little slow during the early lessons, and only really got going once a number of the postulants had been kicked out – there are only six places in the Library for the newbies. There was also a bit of romance – it annoyed me here; it just wasn’t necessary! And all the main characters seemed to pair up, which is another pet hate.
Overall, this is set to be an amazing series, but I felt this first book fell a tiny bit short. I would have liked a bit more world-building, because this world is BRILLIANT! I just felt we didn’t get to see enough of it! And the pacing was off – everything exciting happened all at once, and there were massive slow periods… I probably started the series a bit early, because now I am waiting for the next with bated breath!
If there are problems with a first book, but there is potential for greatness, do you continue with the series?