Title: Ink and Bone
Author: Rachel Caine
The Great Library controls the public’s access to knowledge using Alchemy, strict rules and often brutal force. It is forbidden for anyone to personally own physical copies of original texts, but through individual Codexes they can access titles that the library allows. These harsh restrictions have led to the development of a black market where people barter and steal original texts for great prices.
Main character Jess Brightwell comes from a family of black market thieves, but he doesn’t thrive in the business like the rest of his family. So, his father sends him to become a part of the Library’s regime and act as a spy, but his loyalties become tested.
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 (Goodreads).
I haven’t given a book 5 stars in ages, but wow this one deserved it. Books about books are a favorite of mine, as I’m sure is the case with many readers and writers. I grabbed this gem from Parnassus Books in Nashville. It was one of many that I wanted, and in a rush I chose this one. One of the best hasty decisions I’ve ever made.
Characters – Rachel Caine made it impossible for me to dislike any of the characters in this novel, except maybe Jess Brightwell’s father. But I loved getting to know Jess and his history with the black market that ultimately led to his getting sent to be a library recruit or postulant. The relationships he develops with his fellow postulants and their instructor Scholar Wolfe are thoughtfully played out. I didn’t find there to be a lack of connection or an excess of dialogue, which can sadly plague novels with many characters. And the story and development of Scholar Wolfe is captivating the deeper you get into the novel.
Plot – The Library of Alexandria will always be a sore spot for bibliophiles, but Caine took this historical site and crafted a magical world around it. It highlights themes of free speech and access to knowledge, which are still challenged even now in 2019. Maybe that’s why this book is so special to me. Restricting access to words and knowledge grinds my gears like nothing else. Caine makes you fall in love with the struggle against the hierarchy who battle with obeying it and disagreeing with it simultaneously.
In summary, I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in the series, and I highly recommend this to everyone whether you like YA or not.