Published by Allison & Busby on July 7th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, General, Fantasy & Magic
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Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time. In 48 AD, a fire set by the troops of Julius Caesar destroyed much of the Great Library of Alexandria. It was the first of several disasters that resulted in the destruction of the accumulated knowledge of the ancient world. But what if the fire had been stopped? What would the Library have become? Fast forward: the Great Library is now a separate country, protected by its own standing army. It has grown into a vast power, with unquestioned and unrivalled supremacy. Jess Brightwell, seventeen and very smart, with a gift for mechanical engineering, has been sent into the Great Library as a spy for his criminal family. Magical spells and riots abound in this epic new YA series.
“We’re nothing but secrets.”
Are you ready for books, alchemy, secret tunnels, books, friendships, rivalries, books and villains who become heroes? Oh, and did I mention books? Oh so many books…
I might complain every time I read that ridiculous “X meets Y” marketing strategy, but I have to admit that Harry Potter meets The Book Thief meets Fahrenheit 451 is a pretty good descriptor for this book. The main character – Jess – is indeed a book thief, and they’re are people called Burners who (you guessed it!) burn books for political protest in this alternate world where the Great Library rules.
“The truth was what the library wanted it to be.”
So you might be wondering where the Harry Potter part comes in. Well, let’s imagine for a second that HP wasn’t so much about wizards as it was about alchemists, and that Harry didn’t go to Hogwarts but instead went to The Great Library in Alexandria, Egypt. Where there are teachers who may or may not be evil, leaders who almost certainly can’t be trusted, and all the friendships and rivalries you would expect from teenagers competing to be scholars.
I can’t say it’s a perfect book, but it is damn entertaining. From the beautiful descriptions of Alexandria, to the frightening presence of the Library’s leaders; from the competition, to the importance of friendship and the mix of funny and touching friendship dynamics. Everyone has secrets and the “bad guys” might not be what you first expect.
After this wonderful, diverse cast of characters, my favourite thing has to be the books. Ink and Bone is about love for books, the power of books, the lengths people will go to for books. Also, though this may be unintentional, I got a sense of an underlying symbolism about the difference between ebooks and physical books in our world. Ebooks are convenient, more universal, I read them all the time… but does anything ever really compare to having the physical ink and paper in your hands?
A fast-paced, exciting read. No cliffhanger, but perfectly set up for the sequel. I can’t wait!