Review: Ink and Bone

 

Ink and Bone

 

Rachel Caine’s new book, Ink and Bone: The Great Library, is the first in a tril­o­gy set in an alter­nate world where the Great Library of Alexan­dria was nev­er sacked, and infor­ma­tion is tru­ly pow­er — in this case, the only pow­er worth men­tion­ing.  In a life where every­one across the globe has mag­i­cal access to every piece of writ­ing the great Alexan­dri­an Library deems worth read­ing, per­son­al own­er­ship of books is for­bid­den.  Young Jess Bright­well grows up part and par­cel of his father’s Lon­don-based black-mar­ket busi­ness, lit­er­al­ly run­ning pre­cious con­tra­band of real books–not mere copies–to buy­ers with the deep­est pock­et.  When his father sends him to train as librar­i­an at the great library itself–becoming an inside source for orig­i­nal vol­umes, the rarest of the rare–Jess’s pri­or­i­ties become tan­gled, and he ques­tions every­thing he’s ever known about knowl­edge and pow­er, right and wrong, cow­ardice and courage.

I loved this book from cov­er to cov­er.  It is con­sid­ered suit­able for grades 8 and up, but there is plen­ty there which skews old­er (char­ac­ters you like die bloody deaths galore).  The premise is fas­ci­nat­ing and per­ti­nent to our world of dig­i­tal media and ques­tions of own­er­ship vs license.  The alter­nate Earth is inter­est­ing, com­plex and well-devised and the char­ac­ters are as inter­est­ing as they are diverse, with the women as unapolo­get­i­cal­ly awe­some as their male coun­ter­parts (peo­ple who know me will under­stand this is huge in my enjoy­ment of a sto­ry).  Caine thor­ough­ly explores the ideas of infor­ma­tion, absolute pow­er, and the cor­rup­tion which fol­lows hard on its heels, and cun­ning­ly weaves them into a plot which will hurl you for­ward like a feath­er in a hur­ri­cane.

For those of us who are audio­book inclined, I give the audio ver­sion of Ink and Bone, nar­rat­ed by Jules Elfer, five gold stars all around.  The sto­ry was con­veyed so well, that I bought the hard­back for my hus­band (who read it in a weekend–and like­wise loved it), and imme­di­ate­ly pre-ordered the next book in the series.

July needs to arrive so I can find out what hap­pens next!

 

 

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