- Series: The Great Library (Book 1)
- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Berkley; Reprint edition (April 5, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451473132
- ISBN-13: 978-0451473134
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (299 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ink and Bone (The Great Library) Paperback – April 5, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—In an alternate reality, the Great Library of Alexandria is a powerful governing force that controls the dissemination of information. With strategically located branches around the world, it enforces its rules via a highly trained military and deadly automatons. Possession of a book in its original form is illegal, but copies can be requested and are transferred temporarily to readers. For the majority of people who follow its edicts, the library seems like a benevolent authority, but as the delivery boy for his father's black market operation in original books, Jess Brightwell lives in constant fear of being caught by the High Garda. When his father announces that he's enrolled Jess as a postulant to train for a coveted library position, Jess is intrigued and resentful. Constant exposure to books has him hungering for access to the library's vast archives, but he has no wish to continue risking his life for his father's business. His illegal activities have imbued him with the skills necessary to place among the top contenders for the few available positions. But the further Jess gets into the training, the greater the risk of being found out and the more he realizes that the library will stop at nothing to maintain control over its collection. Caine has created a Dickensian future with an odd mix of technologies and elements of sorcery. A strong cast of characters and nail-biting intensity make for a promising start to this new series. VERDICT Teens and librarians alike will be anxiously awaiting the next installment.—Cary Frostick, formerly at Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Rachel Caine transports the reader to an imaginary future world where a Great Library controls all knowledge and the private ownership of printed books is a radical, dangerous practice.”—Deborah Harkness, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Discovery of Witches
“Dark, riveting, heart-in-the-throat storytelling, with characters who caught me up and hold me even now. A don't-miss read!”—New York Times Bestselling Author Tamora Pierce
“Caine has always given readers entertaining and interesting books…Fans will fall in love with Jess and want the next book out immediately.”—USA Today
“Caine’s elegantly detailed descriptions bring Jess’s world to vivid life in a fast-paced, action-oriented plot that will leave readers breathlessly anticipating not just the next page but the next book in the Great Library Series.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A thrill-a-minute adventure…This first entry into the Great Library series has pieces that mirror the excitement and bitterness of the Hunger Games series and contains some of the psychological elements of the Harry Potter books.”—Booklist (starred review)
“A strong cast of characters and nail-biting intensity make for a promising start to this series.”—School Library Journal
“A modern masterpiece…Fellow bibliophiles, expect to be some variation on struck—awestruck, dumbstruck, starstruck, maybe even thunderstruck…A new series to thrill every bookworm’s heart!”—Christian Science Monitor
"Caine's world where books and libraries dominate is not for the faint of heart...What's not to love? Imagine Harry Potter where the real magic is found within the pages of ancient texts. This book proves the adage that knowledge is power."—RT Book Reviews (4½ stars, top pick)
“Reminds me of Jim C. Hines’ libriomancy series…An intriguing world.”—Locus
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Top customer reviews
There are lots of inconsistencies and holes in the plot. Some of these may be simply due to the Author leaving things too vague or assuming that the reader will assume certain things based on what is already present in the story (and you know what they say about the word assume). For example, why is Jeff forced to smuggle at a young age? I would understand it if he were from a poor smuggling family, but he's from a very wealthy family. We could assume that it's a family tradition, but there's nothing said that really suggests that the one who is meant to take over the family business must also risk getting hung because he is smuggling books before he's hit puberty. Another example is why does the family need to smuggle books anyways? Sure, they may be a wealthy commodity to smuggle, but it's very dangerous and getting caught could ruin the entire family. They're quite wealthy, so why stay in the business? You could assume that it's some sort of political thing, but you would be wrong (so far as we, the reader can tell), because Jess' father pounds it into his kids head that it is just a business, that books are just a business, repeatedly.
Then there's the application process of the Great Library. They want kids so they can indoctrinate them, I get that. But why does the author say it costs a fortune to even get a spot to take the test? And from my reading, that's the impression that I got, that buying a spot is the only way to get into the test. That means only the rich and powerful can get a spot. That means only the people connected to powerful crime families, or wealthy nobles, or other such people who would come into Library service with a purpose in mind (such as Jess going in so that he can help out his family business of smuggling books, or the other kids family who are part of the Burner faction). It's dumb. It would be better to only recruit from orphanages, and at a much younger age. Why would you start at 15 and up? Sure, there are reasons we could assume that this is the case (such as the Library using it as a way to do damage to wealthy/noble families who may cause issues to them by getting rid of their sons and daughters or something, though that doesn't make much sense).
Then there's the world building. It's obvious to me, from my reading, that the world was built around the story as the story was developed. This causes a lot of issues. There's nothing more annoying (to me) than when an author springs some new super-tech/super-magic that, at least from our previous reading about the world, shouldn't exist and apparently only exist for the convenience of the author in moving along the story. For example, two gold-tier, life-time induction people in a single 'class.' When it is previously stated that it almost never happens, not even a full page before that. Why does Jess 'class' have a Burner, two genius, and a hidden magic-users, etc... while he himself is an odd ball with a 'useful' skill? The author stacked it too much and it seemed unbelievable and hindered my ability to suspend my disbelief.
Then that brings me to Morgan, the Obscurist. That whole character, and all the plot points around her, are completely dumb. This is the thing I liked the least about the story. So you're telling me the a budding Obscurist is somehow able to outsmart an army of Obscurist in the Iron Tower, and the all-powerful Great Library? That she is somehow, despite apparently coming from a poorer family, get into the Library testing, pass the test, get into the same class that Jess is in that happens to be lead by Wolfe, who happens to be one of the only people in the Library who would be willing to hide (after finding out rather quickly) a prolific book smuggler and a much-wanted Obscurist? There's too much chance in favor of the characters. This is where I feel the author designed this story in reverse. First she designed the characters, then she designed the plot around the characters, and then she designed the book world around the plot. That's why so much of this book is frustrating, why its so inconsistent, why there are so many holes, and why the whole Morgan-Jeff love story is dumb.
Other memorable mentions are: The journals. You're telling me no one realized that the journals everyone uses are recorded into the Great Library via their blank magic/technology? And how convenient that they can have NSA-level analyzing via magic robots. This felt like a tacked on way to kill Thomas because the author wasn't up to the task of writing something interesting and just wanted to move the plot along quickly. And then there's the Alexander Express. I feel like the author didn't want to write a return story, and for some reason didn't just want to 'skip' the return, so she threw in this Alexander Express thing that accomplishes stuff that modern day technologically advanced nations struggle greatly to achieve. Somehow there's this 400+KPH train that has its own tracks that span continents and oceans. And we only learn it exists towards the end just so that the characters can conveniently return back to Alexandria quickly? And before this only the Archivist of the Great Library could use it.
So, in short, the author did not win over a reader. I felt I got my money worth, sure, but I won't read another of the Great Library series and may not read another story from this author. I'm not sure yet. I hope that by time she writes her next series she gets a strong editor to help smooth over her downfalls, or at least she learns from them in this series. The premise of the Great Library series is great, but the execution is sorely lacking.
Jess lives in a world where books are controlled by The Great Library. The Great Library controls the flow of information in the world. Jess starts off as a runner for his family. His family steals original versions of books and trades them in the black market. Jess isn’t really interested in the family business. His father could see that early on, and set him up with a good education. An education good enough to get him into The Great Library’s service so he could continue to work for his family from the inside. Working for the The Great Library would mean Jess is employed by the enemy.
There are three kinds of people in this world.
Librarians: work for The Great Library and control the information of the world
Dealers: who steal and deal original copies of rare books
Burners: who burn books for political protest
Everyone has a journal at birth and is encouraged to write about their lives, the journals become part of the library once a person dies. The Great Library looks good and safe, but it is actually the very thing keeping progress from happening in this world. No one but the library gets original books. In a whole lifetime, you may gain access to an electronic book or get a copied one. Almost no one gets to see an original book.
Books are power in this world. Since the library has all the power, and people don’t know any better, a position with The Great Library is a coveted position. In this word there are no printing presses, no way for a book to be shared. All of the best ideas and technology are used for the library only. Oppression is a thing. Which brings a need for Burners. They don’t want the library to have all the power, they burn books and librarians in protest. They are a real threat to librarians throughout the world.
Jess is sent into training with The Great Library after passing the entrance exam. He might be the most promising student from his part of the world, but he finds he is just one of many who wants a life working with books. The whole story follows Jess in his studies and his rivalries with other students in Alexandria. Some of this story was reminiscent of Harry Potter, but these kids are older. The stakes are higher. The students are more twisted, and there is much more at stake.
The world building in Ink and Bone is pretty amazing. We get to see so much of this world and it is flawlessly described for the reader. I had no problem seeing the world. I have to admit the beginning of this book is a bit slow, but once I got past the first few chapters, and into Jess’ journey, I was completely sucked in. All of the characters are well written. Jess is torn throughout most of this story between reaching his potential for the library and pleasing his family. He knows more than most of his peers and that knowledge is dangerous.
There was a bit of romance, but it is so damned complicated. I loved Morgan and Jess together. There is also some great friendships. Those are hard won though. They also get pretty complicated. Within this story is a great adventure and a lot of danger.
This book made me so grateful to have access to books and knowledge without persecution. I really enjoyed this book. It ends in a good place with no cliffhangers. I want more of the story though, so I can’t wait to read the sequel. Fans of books and YA fictional history will enjoy this story.
I also REALLY enjoyed the idea of an institution of knowledge so powerful that it considers knowledge outside of its control to be so dangerous that it engages in censorship; it seems like a crucial commentary on censorship, access, and sharing in today's world. The other political ideas that crop up (such as the Burners and the criminal underground) complement and expand upon these ideas in important and very engaging ways.
Also, the character she created in the librarian who trains the initiated scholars is fabulous; he is incredibly compelling and offers SO much to the narrative, rather than just being a cliched, gruff instructor who doesn't have any appreciation for his task. I love that her writing suggests that people can grow and change throughout their lives, rather than *just* as young adults on wild adventures.
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An alternate reality where the Library of Alexandria survives?!?!Read more