Title: Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1)
Author: Rachel Caine
Publication date: 7 July 2015
Published by: NAL
Source: I purchased this book when I got into dentistry school. Do I know how to celebrate, or what?
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 his friend 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…
So, Ink and Bone is about a boy named Jess, who loves to read.
Okay, it's not the same Jess. But nowhere in the book does it say what he's supposed to look like, so I'm sticking with this mental image.
As far as YA goes, this book is right up there with The Hunger Games, and Feed. It has a well-developed world, that isn't your typical dystopian society. The Great Library is an oppressive superpower for sure, but it doesn't seek to divide and subjugate the people. Instead, its primary objective is to preserve knowledge, as well as to keep its monopoly on knowledge. Because knowledge is power, and who in their right mind would want to lose their power?
Ink and Bone's greatest strength is the moral ambiguity that haunts that world. The Library is the oppressor, but that doesn't mean that The Library's enemies are the good guys either. There are two major forces that are trying to fight The Library - the book smugglers, and the book burners. To the smugglers, books are nothing more than merchandise. They're like the mobsters during the Prohibition. They don't care who they sell the books to, or what happens to the books after the deal is done - something that Jess learns very early on in his career. As for the burners, well, they burn books. They're fanatics who will rather destroy knowledge than have it fall in the hands of The Library.
I was a little apprehensive when Jess was placed in the school environment. I thought that the school part of the story would be repetitive, and I was dreading Red Rising- flashbacks. Instead, this part took me back to my own experiences at the dentistry school and there are some aspects of this story that seem familiar, and relatable. I had a similar experience with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. You know, when you read a certain book at the right time in your life, and everything just clicks.
|Attempt at Bookstagramming|
About halfway through the story, I realised that this book is a mystery. And a damn good one at that. Nothing is what it seems here, and you don't know which of the students is telling the truth about themselves. It's a nice little twist that Jess isn't the only one who's undercover; and as he's trying his best to keep his own secret, he also isn't sure who he can trust. Just how many spies are there in Jess' class, anyway?
As in any YA, there has to be a romantic subplot. I accept that. But on the plus side: no love triangles! In fact, there are no romantic polygons of any kind here. The central romance is nothing special; it's serviceable, in the sense that it actually serves a purpose in the story, and it's sweet.
There is, however, another romantic subplot, that totally snuck up on me, and took me completely by surprise. It's one of the best love stories I have read in a book in a very long time, which is surprising, since this story isn't given much attention. Like I said, it just sneaks up on you, and once you realise what these people feel for each other, you end up being moved by their relationship. At least, I was.
Ink and Bone is one of the best books I have read this year.
Plot: 5 stars
Story: 5 stars
Characters: 4 stars
Language: 5 stars
Total: 5 stars