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Die Bibliothek von Alexandria ist die mächtigste Organisation der Welt. In jeder Stadt gibt es eine Zweigstelle, und die Bibliothekare sind einflussreiche Männer und Frauen, die über das Wissen der Menschheit herrschen. Der private Besitz von Büchern ist strengstens verboten. Jess Brightwell liebt Bücher, auch wenn er nur illegal mit ihnen zu tun hat. Er stammt aus einer Schmugglerfamilie, die Bücher auf dem Schwarzmarkt verkauft. Jess' Leben ändert sich von Grund auf, als sein Vater ihn als Spion in den Orden der Bibliothekare eingeschleust. Jess reist nach Alexandria, um in der Großen Bibliothek seine Ausbildung zu machen. Dort kommt er einer gewaltigen Verschwörung auf die Spur – und stellt fest, dass den Großmeistern der Bibliothek ein einzelnes Buch mehr wert ist als ein Menschenleben ...

354 pages, Hardcover

First published July 7, 2015

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Rachel Caine

218 books18.2k followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,843 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
June 23, 2016
"We're nothing but secrets."

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!

Edit: And, just in case you were wondering, I didn't like the Morganville Vampires series and that had no bearing on my enjoyment of this.

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Profile Image for Felicia.
Author 47 books128k followers
August 17, 2015
I am on book tour currently, and now appreciate every author who ever lived because this stuff is CRAY! It's like doing a convention for 3 weeks straight, but you're flying to different cities every day and since i'm a REALLY picky sleeper, I'm starting to feel like someone's trying to murder me if the bed has a low thread count. Anyway, I loaded my Kindle up with reads in anticipation of traveling a lot, and this book was #1 on my list to get to first. And I loved it!

I'm a big fan of Rachel Caine from her romance novels (and I know her in real life because I fanned out when I met her over her books several years ago, haha). She wrote a few series we've read in my Vaginal Fantasy book club, so imagine my surprise when I read this, and it's not a girlie romance at all, it's a YA novel with a boy protagonist. And it's SO GOOD!

This series is a fantasy love letter to books. When I was reading it, all I could think about was how much I loved going into a library as a kid and flipping through the books and finding new worlds. How it was forbidden to draw in a book and how terrible it was to mess one up in the slightest. Books were special. This series is set in an alt world where printing presses don't exist, the Library in Alexandria never was burnt, and knowledge is controlled by an all-powerful Library (capital letter). Our hero is a member of a family who smuggles actual books, so you're dropped immediately into a fantasy world that's rich with conflict. Anyway, I don't want to give more away, but there are amazing themes about freedom and the average person's right to knowledge, as well as the permeating feeling of REVERENCE towards books. I felt very guilty that I was reading it on a kindle, lol, and wanted to run out and buy a real live book immediately after reading.

Anyway, if you love books, this is a great read. It's YA in tone but not too kiddie, there's some dramatic stuff that happens, but it sets up for some great twists in the next book, which I'll be sure to pick up. A quick fun read.

Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
May 21, 2021
You have ink in your blood, boy, and no help for it. Books will never be just a business to you.

Few people, if any, have ever set eyes on a book in Jess Brightwell's London. And yet, no one is illiterate and writing is considered sacred across the world.

Instead of books, everyone has blanks (think: ereader but run by alchemy and magic) where they can rent as many books as they want, respond to messages and conduct their lessons on.

But no one has a book - as in an actual printed book - because having one is punishable by death.

Jess Brightwell and his family are book-smugglers. They find printed copies of books and sell them to the highest bidder. And if they get caught - they will hang.

Jess father decides he wants an inside man. Someone who could have access to the handwritten texts of the greats and who could influence the right people to turn a blind eye.

And so, Jess is going to apply for one of the most dangerous, grueling and brutal jobs in the world. He's going to become a Librarian.
The first purpose of a librarian is to preserve and defend our books. Sometimes, that means dying for them - or making someone else die for them.
The Great Library of Alexandria has spread its tendrils in every major country. It promotes literacy while keeping the population in check.
The Great Library may have once been a boon, but what is it today? What does it give us? It suppresses! It stifles!
Jess and 30 other students from across the world compete for six librarian spots. Quickly, they realize that this will be no picnic.

Anyone can be sent home at any time. And Jess is learning that the world isn't quite as stable as the Great Library wants them to think.

Jess is fairly confident he can make it...but the longer he stays, the more he realizes that he has no idea of how (or even if) he can ever get out.

What a brilliant start to a series!

It's so rare to get a YA series with a male lead - this entire book was a breath of fresh air. Jess was down-to-earth, entertaining and absolutely endearing. Watching his struggle as he transitions from a scared kid to a bold survivor definitely kept me hooked.

I'm also so impressed by Caine's world-building. She took such a fundamental concept (the printed word) and built a society around its absence.

I was thoroughly fascinated by how she just took this idea and ran with it (though, as a huge library lover, I did have a really difficult time associating anything negative with libraries).

Overall, I cannot wait to read what she writes next!

With thanks to Berkley Publishing for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Mohammed Arabey.
709 reviews5,730 followers
June 29, 2021
ماذا لو لم تحترق مكتبة الإسكندرية القديمة؟
في هذه الديستوبيا المختلفة إجابة كابوسية، تمزج روح رائعة راي برادبري فهرنهايت 451، مع سحر عالم هاري بوتر لرولينج ولكن بصورة جديدة وتنوعية مميزة

رواية تحمل عبق الكتب القديمة بشحمها ولحمها، عذرا، بورقها وحبرها في مواجهة كتب المكتبة عديمة الروح
Blanks VS. Originals

تاريخ موازي،تيمة ماذا لو، ماذا لو بقيت مكتبة الإسكندرية وصارت تحكم العالم…ما التطورات التي سيشهدها حتي نصل لزمن الأحداث، في 2025..ذلك المستقبل القريب الموازي ،بين لندن والإسكندرية ومع شخصيات متنوعة

شخصيات يتحكم بها حبر المكتبة حتي العظام..شخصيات مختلفة جنسياتهم ، دياناتهم ، حتي أعمارهم و ميولهم العاطفية..يواجهون ثورات حادة وحروب بلا معني في عالم يسيطر عليه طاغية من نوع أخر
طاغية مختلف... يملك أقوي مقاليد الحكم..المعرفة

المعرفة هي القوة

والقوة هنا هي السلطة والتحكم
التحكم فيما تقرأ، فيم تفكر وماذا تكتب
ألم اقل لك إنها ديستوبيا؟

الميزة هنا ان التحكم يشبه نوعا ما 1984 لجورج اورويل ،وربما 451 فهرنهايت -التي اسفا لم أقرأها بعد- ، ولكن الفكرة نفسها والاحداث مختلفة
الابطال طلبة في اكاديمية تعليمية تابعة للمكتبة الكبري، بها أساليب خيميائية لنقل الأشياء من مكان لآخر او حتي الاشخاص ، قد يشبه نوعا ما سحر هوجوراتس وهاري بوتر ولكن أيضا تظل الحبكة والأسلوب مختلف وفريد ، ولا تعتمد علي السحر إطلاقا

بعكس مثلا قراءتي لرواية ديستوبيا اخري تشعر انها نقلت كل شئ بحذافيره من روايات اخري
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الامر هنا مختلف وراقي ومبتكر بحق ،يحمل فقط رحيق سحر بعض الروايات
والأهم رحيق وسحر الكتب الورقية القديمة

العالم رسمته المؤلفة بشكل ممتاز ،قد تجد نفسك وقعت في حيرة من بعض المصطلحات بالبداية ولكن صفحة تلو الأخرى ستجد نفسك دخلت هذا العالم وتعيشه، قد يتبق لك بعض الأسئلة بالنهاية ،ربما سنجد لها احابة بباقي الثلاثية

وفيما يلي دعني اصحبك للمحة علي ذلك العالم دون حرق الأحداث

القصة، قوانين العالم

ممنوع للأفراد إمتلاك اي كتب أصلية ورقية، لا وجود للطباعة ، تقرأ فقط ما تطلبه من فهرس أرشيف المكتبة علي كتاب 'فارغ' تمنحه المكتبة للمواطنين يظهر لك بطريقة خيميائية أرشيف المكتبة الكبري الذي يحتوي علي كل عناوين الكتب تختار الكتاب ليظهر لك سطور الكتاب وصفحاته الذي طلبته بطريقة خيميائية في كتابك الفارغ من المكتبة وذلك لوقت معين علي حسب ما تدفعه -شبيهة جدا بأسلوب الكتب الإلكترونية في عصرنا ذلك- ،ومن يمتلك الكتب القديمة يتم مصادرتها من قبل سلطات المكتبة وتنفيذ أشد العقوبة عليه
ولكن ماذا تفعل بها المكتبة؟ ، ألا يمكن إعادة طبعها؟ لماذا لايمكن؟

المكتبة الكبري بالإسكندرية، مصر لها العديد من المكتبات الصغري - سيرابيم- لتحكم كل مكان بالعالم بأكمله

دعك من بعض الفوضويين الذين يحاولون إسقاط حكم المكتبة في أمريكا، أو أولئك الثوار -حارقوا الكتب- في إنجلترا والذين يحرقون الكتب باللهب الاخضر الكيميائي الخطير
دعك من الحرب المشتعلة بين ويلز ولندن، فهناك تماثيل متحولة تدب فيها الحياة وقت استشعارها لاي خطر يحقق المكتبات وتحميها والكتب بها
دعك من كل هذا، المهم ان تطيع القانون ، لا تشارك في سرقة وتهريب أو امتلاك الكتب النادرة
وتذكر دائما عزيزي المواطن ان تكتب يومياتك كلها في الأجندة التي تقدمها لك المكتبة منذ صغرك...بهذه الطريقة عندما تتوفي سيتم حفظ ذكرياتك كلها للأبد في أرشيف المكتبة
ولكن هل فقط سيتم قراءتها بعد الوفاة؟ هل تضمن ألا يستطيع احد قراءتها طالما صاحبها مازال علي قيد الحياة؟

وتدور احداثنا هنا بين دفعة طلاب مستجدين للعمل بعد التخرج بأقسام المكتبة المختلفة ، ليصيروا جزءاً من حكام العالم
الاحداث كلها تدور حول وجهة نظر الشخصية الرئيسية 'جيس' ، وبعد كل فصل نجد ورقة ،قد تكون رسالة حديثة او ورقة تاريخية قديمة متعلق موضوعها إما بالاحداث الحالية، او بتاريخ هذا العالم الموازي وتطوره لما وصل إليه الأن

الأحداث ليست ديستوبيا فحسب ، وتعدد جنسيات وثقافات وديانات الابطال استوظفته المؤلفة جيدا في توصيل رسالة بسيطة بشكل لائق حول إحترام الأديان وإحترام معتقدات البشر بوجه عام ، فمثلا جزئية بين البطل وشخصية احد الطلبة الافريقيين مسيحي متزمت لم يعجبه وجود تماثيل الآلهة المصرية القديمة بشوارع الإسكندرية -ديستوبيا لا تنس انها عالم موازي ،الإسكندرية ليس بها تماثيل اثرية- كانت مكتوبة بشكل مميز

ولنتعرف اكثر ،وبدن حرق ايضا علي

هو بطل الاحداث، صبي في السادسة عشر من عمره من لندن ،عاشق للكتب، من عائلة تعمل في تهريب الكتب ،يختاره أبيه ليستكمل تعليمه في المكتبة الكبري بالاسكندرية ليصير من رجال المكتبة كي يفيد العائلة بالأخص اخيه التؤام -المختلف عنه في الشخصية تماما- في عمليات التهريب والتنبيه بخصوص هجمات رجال شرطة المكتبة
من الشخصيات المرسومة بشكل محبب وسهل جدا التعاطف معه منذ بداية الاحداث، ربما لأنه يمثل كل قارئ منا، فهو كما قال عنه أخيه
يجري في دماءك الحبر


فتي عملاق ألماني الجنسية يتعرف عليه جيس في الرحلة من لندن الي محطة مصر بالإسكندرية ويصير صديقه المقرب يعشق الإختراعات والشغل بالماكينات لدرجة اختراعه لن��اذج من التماثيل المتحولة التي تدب فيها الحياة كتلك العملاقة التي تحمي المكتبات السيرابيم


المعلم بالمكتبة الكبري والذي يتولي مهمة التدريس وإعداد جيس وزملائه ليكونوا من موظفي المكتبة في اي اقسامها من الهندسة،الفن،الرياضة،الارشيف وحتي الحرس، وعليه ان يختار من دفعة جيس فقط 6 ليستكملوا معه باقي العام الدراسي ، لذا يقوم بطرد الباقي واحدا تلو الاخر بكل قسوة، ...وبمجرد ان تطلب إدارة المكتبة الكبري ان يصحب الطلبة إلي منطقة الحرب بين لندن وويلز سينكشف معدنه الحقيقي

هو شخصيتي المفضلة واعتقد ان كل من سيقراه سيشعر انه يشبه كثيراً سناب من سلسلة هاري بوتر بالاخص في زيه الأسود والعباءة الواسعة التي تطير خلفه كاجنحة الخفاش، بروده وقسوته، له ماض ما غامض سينكشف لك بتوالي أحداث الجزء الاول ، ومهما شعرت بتشابه ولكنه تشابه في الروح والشكل العام فقط ، الشخصية نفسها والماضي والاحداث التي تدور حوله مختلفة تماما


فتاة انجليزية تحمل سرا ما ، يمكنها ان تتلاعب في التركيية الخيميائية الخاصة بأصل المكتبة ، هذه القدرة نادر من يملكها في العالم ولهذا تحاول التخفي بالانخراط في دفعة الطلبة الجدد مع جيس لسبب غامض
يشعر جيس بالانجذاب نحوها لتصير هذه هي العقدة الرومانسية التقليدية بكل ديستوبيا، وان كانت الميزة هنا انها لم تحتل حيز كبير من الاحداث المثيرة بما يكفي


فتاة من ويلز ، قوية ،تسعي ان تكون من حرس المكتبة بعد التخرج ، منذ البداية يكون هناك توتر بينها وبين جيس نظرا لعداء ويلز ولندن ولكن الامؤ يتغير شيئا ما عند انتقال دفعتهم من الاسكندريه لمنطقة الحرب ،في هذا الجزء البشع من الرواية المليء بالدماء والحرب التي بلا معني -ربما تطويل وبشاعة هذا الجزء رمزي في حد ذاته لتصوير كم أن الحروب عاما أمرا قاسيا ولا معقول


خليلة ،فتاة عربية مسلمة محجبة ، ماهرة في الرياضيات وحصلت علي أعلي نسبة في اختبارات المتقدمين للمكتبة الكبري
قدمت المؤلفة الشخصية بشكل عادي ، مقارنة بشخصية سميرة العباس مثلا في رواية ريك رودمان الجديدة الصادرة في نفس الوقت
The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1)
والذي قام بعمل ابحاث بشكل جدي في اسلوب حياة الفتاة المسلمة بشكل محترم وراقي ، ربما لهذا السبب رايت هنا ان خليلة عادية ، ولكن يكفي الاشادة بإختيار المؤلفة لهذا التنوع وتقديم الشخصية علي الاقل بشكل ايجابي محترم حتي في تعاملها من ميلها تجاه ماقد يصير حبيبها داريو


فتي اسباني، زميل جيس - لسوء حظ الاخير،او حظهما سويا- مغرور ونرجسي ولكن لسبب ما لن تملك سوي انتظار ظهوره من وقت لآخر مع مناوشاته مع جيس ، او حتي ضعفه امام خليلة التي هام بها حبا بالرغم من انها فتاة عملية


اخو جيس التوأم، ليس طالبا معهم ولكنه مازال يعمل في عمل العائلة، تهريب الكتب في لندن
شخصية نقيضة تماما للبطل وأعتقد انه سيلعب دورا محوريا بالاجزاء المقبلة


من حرس المكتبة وملازم للمعلم ولفي ، ايطالي الاصل وحاد ، وبينه وبين ولفي صداقة قوية ليس فحسب مجرد معلم وحارسه، كما انه من يعلم سر ولفي

ستعيش بهذه الرواية مع هذه التركيية المختلفة من الشخصيات ومن هذه القوانين التي تحكم العالم وما بين قاعات التدريس التابعة لمكتبة الاسكندرية وشوارعها المرسومة بشكل جمالي تمنيت ان يكون حقيقيا ،وبيت الطلبة ومقر المكتبة ، وسر البرج الحديدي ، وما بين الحرب المشتعلة في انجلترا بين لندن وويلز
وما بين ثورات حارقي الكتب وبين مهربي الكتب الاثرية النادرة
وما بين تدريب الطلبة تدريبات صعبة وقاسية لدرجة انك قد تشعر بأنهم ينوون علي القضاء عليهم تماما لاسباب مجهولة ، تعيش في مجرد 350 صفحة من الاحداث السريعة المتلاحقة ،والشخصيات الثرية الحية ستجعلك تنتظر بشوق الجزء التالي ليس فقط لمعرفة المزيد وحل بعض الأسئلة، بل كي تستكمل معايشتك لهذا العالم ، مع هذه ابشخصيات التي ستشعر معها بألفه حقيقية

اتعجب فعلا الا تاخذ تلك الرواية حقها من الشهرة والدعاية ، أعتقد ان المشكلة ربما في الأعمال السابقة للمؤلفة نفسها -والتي لأول مرة اسمع عنها- حيث ان كتبها السابقة مختلفة تماما كما ييدو عن تلك الرواية المتميزة

قصة بها نبذ للعنصرية والحروب التافهة ، نبذ للعبودية والسيطرة علي الفكر ونشر العلم
قصة بها جمال الكتب، تعظيم للعلم كعلم ارشميدس ، تعظيم للأدب، و الاكبر ، جمال الصداقة الحقيقية

لذا لا تحكم علي الرواية باسم مؤلفتها ، فهي فعلا من اكثر الديستوبيا التي قرأتها مؤخرا تميزا
اكثر بكثير من
Divergent, Legend, Red Queen وغيرها
ديستوبيا ،كما قلت في البداية ، مختلفة

مجمد العربي
الإسكندرية من 25 يناير 2016
إلي 31 يناير 2016
Profile Image for Dear Faye.
492 reviews2,124 followers
July 16, 2015
Dear bookworms of the world,

You need this book in your life. If you don't buy, read, and love this as much as I did, well, I ain't gonna be your friend no more.

With much love, Faye.

Okay, I kid, I'll still be your friend nevertheless, but do you think I'm kidding about the awesomeness of this book? Let me tell you something: I don't always give books 5 stars. But when I do, there are two categories: 5 stars, and 5-fucking-fantastic-stars.

When you have a story with a male hero, who fricking loves books, in an alternate history fantasy setting who travels with a group of amazing friends and a sarcastic, strict, likeable mentor, and who eventually goes against a  LIBRARY CORPORATION  that is keen on controlling how books are used and made, well, I'm sorry, but doesn't that just scream 5-fucking-fantastic-stars to you?

I really, really, really love this book. I read it with an open mind a month ago, not knowing of the premise or the author, and was absolutely blown away by how amazing and original and refreshing it was.

1.) It's about books. A book about books. That already sounds awesome, doesn't it? It's about a world torn by books - by people who want to control how books are made and shelved and copied and stored, and by people who'd rather burn (!!!!) and eat (?!?!?!) books than have their lives compromised by an oppressing system where having original copies of books can be the death of you. It's about a group of friends (or, okay, enemies-turned-forced-acquaintances-turned-friends)  who love books and seek to protect them in various ways, going so far as to put their lives on the line in order to make sure they're safe from harm.

2.) The library is the freaking villain. Okay, maybe not the library itself, but the people behind it who are pulling the strings? Yup. They're so drunk with their power and how they control the books and the people with their system that they say "OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!" quicker than the Queen of Hearts on crack. And, guys? They're the ultimate book hoarders. They're us, except on steroids. And by steroids, I mean nasty, nasty steroids. You don't wanna mess with these guys, unless you're Jess Brightwell, of course.

3.)   Male hero who loves books as much as we do. Jess comes from a book smuggling family. They find original copies, and then sell them to collectors, and getting the books to these collectors is no easy feat as they have to evade the authorities and these automated stone lions that come to life when they sniff some black-market-mischief. And then one day, upon delivering a book to a collector, Jess witnessed a man eat the only copy of an ancient historian's book like it was nothing, and that was when he realized this book smuggling thing just wasn't his cup of tea.

I have nothing but love for this guy. You can really tell how much he cares for books a lot, and how much he's willing to go so, so far just for them. How far would we go for knowledge? How far would we go in order to make sure that knowledge is easily accessible? What would we do if we have to choose between books and the people who thirst for freedom? Plus, I just love his personality, and I love his interactions with his friends (who are all so very diverse, guys... heck, there's even an interracial romance among them, HOLY MOTHER OF EPICBALLS) and with his mentor who is a bundle of complexity because you love and hate him at the same time.

4.) The writing and the world-building are amazing. The writing reminded me so much of Brandon Sanderson's - it's not purple-prose and verbose and uses more simple words than other fantasy/AU novels, and yet, they still say so much and connect you to the story easily and efficiently. The way they were weaved and connected felt so fricking lyrical and poetic and romantic despite the fact that the story contained themes of oppression, bleakness, and the need for freedom from an unfair system. The book was so entertaining and so heartbreaking and so heartwarming, all at the same time, that it left me in tears and in joy and at the edge of my seat.

All in all, this book is the book of my dreams. Its place is right there beside Brandon Sanderson, and that's a big, big, BIG deal right there.
Profile Image for Darth J .
417 reviews1,265 followers
August 20, 2015
DNF @ page 37

Dry. Dry. DRY.

I gave this book 37 pages but I didn't feel anything for it. Despite having an interesting premise that would appeal to most bibliophiles, I felt like there was nothing there to hook me immediately. There were animatronic lions and statues, and then steam powered carriages for some reason (this book is set in the near future so it was really odd). It felt like a smattering of other successful stories right now in the market had bits picked from them and this was what was trying to be cobbled out of it. Let's not even mention the "we have to keep books (read: education) from commoners" thing.

There's just no warmth or heart here to keep me interested.
Profile Image for ✨ Helena ✨.
379 reviews1,003 followers
February 16, 2019
So, I’d just like to point out that I was a weird child growing up. I adored mythology more than any other type of bedtime story and I began reading both The Iliad and The Odyssey at age 10. I know, weird. Having said that, I was heartbroken when I later discovered that these were the only two Ancient Greek epics surviving, out of the eight that were written, now known as the Epic Cycle. The thought of destroyed books makes me despair in agony. Now I’m certain that I’m not the only person who still gets emotional over the destruction of the Library of Alexandria. ALL OF THOSE BOOKS…GONE!!! GONE FOREVER!!! NEVER TO BE SEEN OR READ EVER AGAIN! :(

Luckily, Ink & Bone brings into question…what if the Library of Alexandria had never been destroyed?!

Well, according to Rachel Caine, had the Library of Alexandria survived, the world would be Fahrenheit 451 on steroids. Finally, I’ve come across a dystopian novel that I’ve genuinely enjoyed. This was sooo original and I loved every second of it!!! Thus, I am awarding this novel 4.5 stars!!!

“They've all got stories, Jess thought. I need to know them. Best of all, he could know them. He could learn anything here. It felt like limitless possibilities.”

I’m not going to lie, I considered putting this on hold (for a second time), whilst I struggled to get through the Prologue and Chapter One. But once Chapter Two began, the plot was so well-paced for the remainder of the novel that it completely made up for it!!! Despite this being a very short book (only 350-ish pages), it feels much longer, but it’s completely worth it!

First of all, I’d like to address everyone who compared this novel to Harry Potter…Every book that requires training at a school does not need to be compared to Harry Potter. Don’t get me wrong, I love Harry Potter as much as the next person (In fact, it’s even #2 on my Favourite Books of All Time list), but: 1) J.K. Rowling did not patent books about schools, 2) Books about schools existed long before Harry Potter (cough Enid Blyton cough), and 3) Books about schools will exist long after Harry Potter. Comparisons to Harry Potter as marketing ploys really get on my nerves! If there were magic being taught at this school, I’d understand…but they’re being taught to be scholars and how the Library functions! There is absolutely no magic in this book (Well, there is alchemy – which isn't being taught – but no spells or potions!)!!! Ugh.


PSA: As this is a dystopian novel, it might interest you to know that there is also quite a bit of death in this novel, which I found to be quite unexpected. There are also a number of surprising twists and turns!

Ink & Bone is centred around Jess, who comes from a family of smugglers. They smuggle books because the ownership of physical books is now illegal (and punishable by death because “when you steal a book, you steal from the world”) in the year 2025. Everyone is given blanks (which very much resembles eBooks on a tablet), or a codex (which is a more expensive version of blanks), and the books that are loaded onto there are strictly controlled. The world is run in a dictatorship-type manner by the Great Library, who control the world’s knowledge because as everyone knows: knowledge is power. The Library’s motto is actually tota est scientia (or knowledge is all). The Library would rather the world go up in flames around them than let any harm come to the books. People who work for the library would even die to protect the books from harm. They also use automaton lions, sphinxes, and soldiers which are awfully scary!

There are many who protest the Library’s control including the smugglers, who profit from selling valuable books to those who can afford it, and the Burners, who set fires to the books (and even themselves) in protest with Greek Fire. We also have the perverted ink-lickers who eat the books in order to completely possess its knowledge.

One of the best aspects of this novel, however, is its diversity. All of the characters are from around world, practice various religions, and have different sexual orientations! Scholar Christopher Wolfe and High Garda Captain Niccolo Santi are not only the children’s mentors, but also a wonderful gay couple. Wolfe was actually my favourite character!!! Jess Brightwell and Morgan Hault are both English and so bloody cute. Glain Wathen is Welsh, yet also the bad-arse muscle out of them all. Thomas Schreiber is a German inventor and a giant teddy bear! <3 Dario Santiago is a pompous Spaniard LOL. And finally, Khalila Seif is a Saudi Arabian Muslim genius. And I absolutely love every single one of them (yes, even Dario haha)! All of these characters meet at the Great Library of Alexandria in Egypt in order to fight for their places within the Library’s workforce. Some will end up as Scholars (archivists), others will end up as part of the Garda (soldiers), and, in rare instances, others will end up as Obscurists (alchemists).

If you haven't tried this book yet, I highly recommend it. Amongst the plethora of YA dystopia, this is definitely a hidden gem. :D
Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews842 followers
July 7, 2015
GIVEAWAY: find out the title of the sequel to Ink and Bone - and win in a copy of Ink and Bone!

***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
Book One of The Great Library series
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: July 7, 2015
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Review copy sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

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 he 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.…

What I Liked:

My first Rachel Caine read! Isn't it pretty?! Take a look at the spine, if you have a print copy (hardcover especially) - so gorgeous! It reminds of how the spines of old books used to be. Not flashy with the book's title printed across, but very much like an old bound book's spine! Excellent work there, NAL, with the book's spine and cover! And excellent work, Caine, for writing a very intriguing novel, which I enjoyed!

Jess comes from a family of book smugglers, in a time in which it is illegal to own printed novels. Everything can be accessed from the Great Library in Alexandria, but owning books is against the law. Jess is sent by his father to the library to train with other students to get a position in the Great Librarian - but also to be a spy for his family, and get books his family to smuggle. But soon Jess realizes that much more is at stake than his family's business, and that the Great Library isn't what it seems. His loyalties will be tested in many ways, and Jess will be forced to choose a side.

This book is so OMINOUS. Right from the start, I was slightly worried for Jess. The entire book has a suspenseful and dark tone - I was always wondering when Jess would get caught, or when the next person would die, etc. I was on the edge of my seat, trying to figure out what would happen next. This book moves a bit slow, but the mood is very dark and ominous. Someone was always being killed or worried about it. Scary! Not that the book is scary. But dealing with print books and hiding who you are (a print book smuggler) would make anyone uneasy (to say the least).

This book is written in third person limited, to Jess. Jess is a very intelligent boy, who really appreciates print books. His father is very hard on him, and sends him on deliveries all the time, instead of his time brother Brendan. And then Jess's father pays to have him take the exams to receive education at the Great Library. With about twenty other students, Jess goes to Alexandria. Jess is quiet yet clever, nimble and street-smart. A jack-of-all-trades. I think I like him, though I struggled a bit to connect with him initially.

The supporting characters are one of the best and most well-written part of this book. Jess is the protagonist, but there are several other students that play critical roles in this novel. There were twenty at first, but only six spots are open. Dario, Jess's roommate in Alexandria, is a handful, but I think I like him when he was first introduced (but he's a handful). Khalila is a poised and intelligent girl. Thomas is a friendly giant with a very creative engineering mind. Glain is a cold Welsh girl. Morgan is a late arrival, mysterious and odd. Wolfe is the Scholar who is in charge of the students, and he is ruthless and a bit scary. Captain Santi keeps guard of the students and Scholar. Wolfe might be my favorite character! He's an interesting one, once you get to know him. All of these characters are. You might start out disliking one or two, but will fall for all of them by the end!

There IS romance in this book! And I love it because for about 80% of the book, the romance is pretty much not important. It doesn't really start arising until about 50% of the book, but even then, it's just there. It's not a plot-mover, it's not all-encompassing or consuming. It's sweet and I love watching Jess fall for the girl. It's a subtle romance, though you know it's coming when the characters meet. No love triangle! And to make things better, there are other pairs of characters involved in their own romances in the book as well. One made me particularly happy - one the train is when we/Jess makes the discovery (you'll know which I mean when you read the book) - I KNEW IT!

Speaking of I KNEW IT! - there was something else in this book that I had my suspicions about from the beginning - AND I WAS RIGHT! I'm very paranoid and suspicious and as soon as I read about this one thing in the book, I was like, hmmm, but couldn't they be doing this with this... and I was right! Very vague, I know, but I'm feeling triumphant. Good instincts will catch it!

The characterization is really good - Jess grows a great deal in this book. He has to choose sides and paths and decisions again and again, over and over, and he proves his intelligence and perceptiveness and maturity over and over. I personally thought he developed quite a bit as a character, and not just him. He reminded me a bit of Darrow from Pierce Brown's Red Rising.

The world-building is amazing! Caine is a painter with words - the setting and imagery and descriptions are captivating and lovely. There are many different scenery/landscapes in this book, and Caine makes each one unique in its own way. The world-building is very well-written - Caine definitely did a good job of creating this world and story! Though I can't wait to dig deeper in the next book(s).

The plot is slow. I will say that as a negative below - the story moves slowly. It's an interesting story, and I was anxious while reading (I see this as a good thing), but the plot is slow. There is plenty of scheming and deaths and betrayals and twists and true natures revealed and all kinds of shenanigans. The ending had me sad and angry and scared and wanting much, much more. In a positive way, if that makes sense.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this book! I'm looking forward to the next volume in this series - I need it! So many things to be fixed!

What I Did Not Like:

Like I said above, this book's pacing is slow. It took me longer than usual to read this one, and obviously it's not due to the book's length (this book is short), or genre (it's a futuristic fantasy type, which I do love). The story is very interesting and I was never bored, but it's a slow-moving book, in my opinion.

Would I Recommend It:

Yes! I would! Fantasy fans, contemporary fans, basically anyone who likes books... try the book about books! This book was pretty impressive, and definitely got me thinking about books in general. I could not live without my print books! Anyway, this is a Young Adult book, but it is highly suitable for adults. It almost reads like an adult book! Younger teens could read this one, the content isn't too bad (the violence is the heaviest stuff, and it's not bad).


4 stars. My first Rachel Caine book, a successful! I'm not sure I'll ever read her vampire series, but I know I'll be continuing with this one!
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
851 reviews3,880 followers
February 15, 2021

Reread 04/18 : Skimming through this again because I just got the arc of Paper and Fire. WOOT!

Actual rating : 3.5 Happily rounded up at 4 because DUH. BOOKS.

In my honest opinion the strength of Ink and Bone lies first in the plot, which is entertaining as hell, and in the world-building, which contains several of my main interests : think books, automatons, alchemy, a dystopian world ruled by Librarians who control every knowledge (or aim to) and an academy blended together. Exciting? FUCK YEAH.

Random facts you might want to know about Ink and Bone (because there's no way I'm spoiling the story for you)

✔ After reading I went to my bookshelves and HUGGED my paperbacks. Not my Kindle. The thing kind of scared me.

✔ It presents an alternative history that actually MAKES SENSE (most of the time) : think about our history with a twist, the uprising of the Great Library, an organization that controls every book and then, holds a great deal of power. No press. No Gutenberg. I know, *GASP*

✔ Oh, they have lions automatons as guards : HOW AWESOME IS THAT???

✔ I loved the concept of Codex and every invention and gadget, really. I don't want to give away too much, but let's say that the Great Library developed a number of mechanisms, first of all the ability to transfer and erase words on every book sold, because they're all blanks, sort of ereaders controlled by the Library while originals are carefully kept in Alexandria. An example? Look at your book, and imagine that it would be possible for someone else to alter or erase its content in one second without even being at the same place as you. OMG BUT THAT'S POSSIBLE! Frightening, right? I thought so. Especially given that printed books are outlawed.

Concerning the characterization, I have to admit that I'm not completely convinced by it because it lacks of depth. Indeed the characters felt quite blank sometimes - not in a boring way, but they weren't fleshed-out enough in my opinion, especially the secondary ones like Jess's fellow students, who were border stereotypical on some aspects. That's why I'd have wanted them to be less transparent in their intentions and more intricate. However, I did enjoy Wolfe's character a lot, because he was complex and multi-layered : here's the kind of characters I can love.

"I suppose you want me to apologize for calling you a bastard."
"No need," Santi said. "You should hear what his friends call him."
" I have friends?" Wolfe said.
"They don't care to admit it in public."

As for Jess, the main character, I'm afraid that my complaints prove to be the same. Indeed although I can't say that I didn't care about him because it would be false, at the same time I can't deny that I kept feeling that something was missing to completely win me. Oh, well. I don't know. Perhaps I'm not used to that kind of books (which emphasizes on the plot, let's say) anymore. Indeed almost every one of my favorite authors (Marchetta, Moskowitz, Robin Hobb, even) focus primarily on the characterization and that's okay with me, because that's what I seek most of the time. Not here : not that Jess's character wasn't interesting, but he never stood out either. Now, perhaps does it serve the story's purpose, in a way? Concerning his personality, he's not flawless and I'm glad he isn't : indeed he makes mistakes, he has at first a restrained vision of the world (yes, he's sometimes full of shit stereotypes, but now, he's 16, give him a break) but how in the world could it be different, tell me? From his upbringing spent as a smuggler for his family's business to his training in the Academy, he has always been used, and genuinely doesn't know how to deal with real relationships. However something about him rubbed me the wrong way, and that's the fact that he cares about books more than people. Well, even as a book lover (no shit) it made me a little uncomfortable at times, I must confess. Fortunately it doesn't stay that way, because despite the fact that books are rare in his world, I wouldn't have stand a character who happily watches people getting starved and killed because of books. Sorry guys. I'm TEAM HUMANS. (I'm French, after all. Yes, that's relevant. You'll see)

But then, little by little, he evolves. Day after day, he realizes that the world is not near as simple as he thought he was. Page after page, we get to know him better, to understand him more. Chapter after chapter, the choices he has to face become more and more difficult and the lines between right or wrong blur... For that, I thank you, Rachel Caine. For that, I'm eager to read the next book because I feel how strong his potential can be.

Finally, for most of the book, I got the feeling that the romance was... Well... I'd say "low-cute". What is it, you're asking? It means that I'm happy for them, kind of, but I don't care and to me it was unnecessary since the author openly didn't focus on it, so much that the story would have been as great without it. Now, (don't hit me) but that's what I thought about the romance in Harry Potter too. I just don't care. That's not why I loved the books. So, yeah, I wasn't a big fan of this romance which stayed in no-chemistry territory, until, until, until suddenly I started to feel something, and that was as glorious as unexpected.

By the way, I realized that I forgot to talk about this so... There is another romance in Ink and Bone, and I ship them SO hard.

Now, and that's something I rarely write, but to me the pacing was perfection : I was never EVER bored and the writing just flowed smoothly, making the read completely addictive, and some parts were so full of tension that my heartbeat increased.

PS : French are rebels, eat lambs and drink red wine : of course they do >.<
PS2 : No, Dario, Spanish wine isn't better than Cahors. DUH.
PS3 : I might be (a little) subjective. MAY-BE.

For more of my reviews, please visit:
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,064 reviews1,473 followers
November 17, 2022
First Read: June 2017, Rating: 4/5 stars
Second Read: April 2020, Rating: 4/5 stars
Third Read: November 2022, Rating: 4/5 stars

I was never not going to love a book with Library in the series name!

This is set in a world where the Library rules in place of a government. By keeping the knowledge contained in books closely guarded, and only available for scholars and those deemed worthy, it can both impede and advance societal growth as it sees fit. Technology is stunted, business advancements are thwarted, and the Library maintains a tight leash on its citizens. The all seeing and all powerful Library seems like an unbreakable patriarchal structure, but that might just be what they want you to think.

I adored this unique world and found its politics surrounding the spreading of information and knowledge to provide intriguing points for discussion and thought, within the book. It did take a little while for me to acquaint myself with the particulars of the political structure, but once I had done so I was mesmerised with the layers to this fascinating governing regime.

This is not my first time reading Caine's writing and I have been previously unimpressed. I am so glad I decided to give her another go as the authentic characters, the thrilling plot, and most especially this extraordinary world all combined to both restore my faith in this author and provide a leading example of YA dystopia done right!
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
January 24, 2018
In this alternate history type of fantasy, the Library of Alexandria was never destroyed, which ended up affecting the world profoundly. But - surprisingly - not necessarily in ways that are good. The world has developed in a very different direction, scientifically and politically, and the Library keeps a stranglehold over the ownership of books, forbidding private ownership of hard copies on pain of death (ereaders are fine, but the Library monitors the content) and ruthlessly destroying the printing press each time it is invented. It's basically Amazon, in control and run amok.

This is an intriguing and somewhat dark fantasy. Full review to come.
Profile Image for Nina.
306 reviews410 followers
January 5, 2016
Truth be told: I liked the idea of this book more than I actually liked the book.

This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2015 and, well, it fell a bit flat.

Welcome to a world set in 2025 in which the Great Library of Alexandria had never been burnt and destroyed, and where books are a treasure hoarded and guarded by a powerful minority. Where the private possession of books is illegal and punishable (yes, I think we can agree that we’d all be screwed).

There are three parts to learning: information, knowledge, and wisdom. A mere accumulation of information is not knowledge, and a treasure of knowledge is not in itself, wisdom.
The Library holds itself to be the keeper of both knowledge and wisdom, but it is not true. So much should never be held in the hands of so few, for it is a natural, venal habit of men to hold power. And knowledge is the purest form of power.

16-yr old Jess Brightwell earns his keep in London as a Runner, a book smuggler. His father, however, realises that Jess would rather read the books than smuggle them (which he secretly does in his hideouts), and sends Jess to take the entry test for an apprenticeship in the Great Library of Alexandria – with a hidden agenda, that is.

In this alternative future, librarians are at the top of the food chain, so to speak.

”The first purpose of a librarian is to preserve and defend books.”

“The books come first, Sir. Isn’t that how it should be? Books before men?”
Wolfe almost smiled. “As you see. They’re not children. They’re librarians.”

The Good
✓ The premise had captured my interest immediately because of the unique concept.
✓ The main character was very likeable, never running blindly into situations or hating on other people or any other pet peeves I sometimes experience with protagonists. However, he was bland and not especially memorable, and this extends to all the characters. Figures I’d list this under the things I liked and then I turn it into something I didn’t like.
✓ Romance barely existed in the first half, which was fine by me. The romance that did occur was light and neatly folded on the back seat as it should be.
✓ The plot ran at an unexciting average pace but, thank God, finally accelerated in the last third of the book. It was only at that point where my eyes became glued to the pages.
✓ The central topics like loyalty, power, greed, etc. were really intriguing! Even lgbtq and cultural diversity gets a short moment in the spotlight.

The Bad
It’s 2025 but it reads like a novel set in the 18th century. Advanced technology is hinted at, for example newspapers that automatically change (which has more to do with magic than technology seeing as it is still made out of paper but ok, let’s just… go with it), but the descriptions… I kept picturing medieval castles or ancient Egyptian architecture. London and Alexandria are modern cities, and Caine did not get this feeling across. Not one bit. Also, they travel large distances by train instead of taking the plane, but ok, it’s not like I want to badmouth ecological travelling in 2025.
✗ I thought the additional element of magic was unnecessary and at times confusing. The setting had already been special without the magic aspect, which was, by the way, barely explained.
✗ This is something minor but it bugged me: The way Jess had to help out with the family business made it seem as though the Brightwell’s weren’t doing well financially. Also, Jess is teased for being a “lowborn”, and yet at some stage Caine notes that they are “a rich family”. Sooo, kids get bullied because they're wealthy in 2025? Did I miss something?
It took Rachel Caine 240 pages to impress me.

It’s not that I dislike Ink and Bone (Can I just point out that there are way too many YA books with Bone in their title? Shadow and Bone, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, … ). The book wasn’t bad, it was fine. But that’s the problem: It was just fine when I needed it to perform due to its amazing premise. Throughout the book, I felt utterly unaffected by the characters and the plot. The aspect I cared most for was hands down the books. I’m happy others enjoyed this but I need to be moved to give a book more than 3 stars.
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,230 reviews1,562 followers
June 17, 2017
The Great Library is in every city and controls the books of the world. Using alchemy to distribute the books those working for the library track down anyone with any in their possession and confiscate the materials. Ownership of books is expressly forbidden and anyone violating this law could even be sentenced to death.

Jess Brightwell's family has been involved in the black market for books. He's been raised to be a runner, delivering the books to those willing to pay the price and risk ownership. Jess has been sent to the library by his father to become a spy from the inside. He gets involved in the training only to find himself mixed up in the secrets of the library.

Ink and Bone was one of those reads I enjoyed from start to finish. Such an interesting world Rachel Caine had created for anyone who loves to read. It's hard to imagine a world in which you could even die for trying to own a book but with bringing magic also into this world it became that much more interesting with the pursuit of keeping the books in the library's possession.

The world building and character development in the story was excellent. A read that keeps you guessing in who you should be rooting for and who is actually the good guys versus the bad guys from start to finish. There are questions of who to trust and who is on the right side all throughout. A wonderful collection of characters that was just as fun getting to know as the plot behind the story.

Overall, definitely a series that I would recommend.

I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.wordpress....
Profile Image for Melindam.
664 reviews294 followers
September 13, 2020

WOW. Just WOW.

This book had me at "Hello" / page 1. Honestly speaking, I don't know whether the effect would have been the same had I just read it instead of listening to the audiobook, but the narrator, Ben Allen was simply superb in making all the different characters come to life and the story to rock and roll.

As for the story in general, I think it was very well-written. It was tight-paced, tense, grim, inventive and exciting from beginning to end with some powerful, intriguing characters (Christopher Wolfe, Nicolo Santi, the horrible Artifex Magnus).
The world-building was jaw-dropping, the characters likeable, the romance convincing, but understated. It all came together in an amazingly strong start to a new series. I have fallen hook, line and sinker for it.

There are undeniably some dystopian Harry Potter and Fahrenheit vibes, but it's a good, adolescent version of them at that.

This story is not just about any library. THIS IS ABOUT THE GREAT LIBRARY.
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,048 reviews1,380 followers
March 21, 2021
This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷 Support me

“There are three parts to learning: information, knowledge and wisdom. A mere accumulation of information is not knowledge, and a treasure of knowledge is not in itself, wisdom.”

I think this book needs more attention because it is a bit different from what I expected and yet I ended up enjoying it very much. I saw this book on BD many times for a very low price and I regret that I did not get a copy back then because I always thought it is a historical fiction series that is not my cup of tea. My friend Helena has been asking me to read this for ages and this year she decided to pick it up for my 10 readers, 10 recommendations challenge so thanks for introducing me to this series Hel.

The story is a dystopian one with elements of magic. The story takes place in the year 2025 although I did not get those vibes from it at all and it follows Jess who comes from a family of book smugglers. Then his dad see that he should go to school because he would provide more help for the family’s business that way and from there all kind of complications emerge.

The prose is not very special, like it is not flowery or purple but it is not boring either, the story is kind of confusing and slow at first, specially with the long chapters but then it picks up the pace and gets easy to fly through.

“You have ink in your blood, boy, and no help for it. Books will never be just a business to you.”

From the small summary I gave the story has a school setting which is one of my favorite settings at all if done right and I think it was done right here. I have a problem with the world building in terms of how the outside world looks and not the library itself because that part was intriguing! A school setting in my opinion also highly depends on characterization and I believe we had many stereotypical students but I believe that what makes it realistic, every novel with school setting has almost those types of characters and it makes sense. Jess was a good character and he grows a lot through the story and then we have more intriguing and diverse set of students including Khalila (a Hijabi character who is the smartest of them all), Thomas (Smart, strong but also very kind and is my favorite), Dario (The arrogant student from a high class family), and Wolfe who is their A- hole teacher!! Beware that many characters also die so be prepared for your favorites to be brutally murdered.

To be more honest, I think the story has many tropes and I found it very predictable and could guess all the major plot twists (Maybe missed a minor twist or two) because I feel Dystopian novels are just like that! On the other hand and I may sound like I am contraindicating myself, I thought it was original. I can explain this originality from the library setting because it was so intriguing and felt like a love letter to all the book worms out there and the sacrifices we are willing to make for our love of books.

“The first purpose of a librarian is to preserve and defend our books. Sometimes, that means dying for them – or making someone else die for them. Tota est scientia.”

Summary: I think this is a very satisfying entry in The Great Library series and I do believe it has potential. The characters were well written and so was the world. The story belongs to the dystopian genre and that makes the plot prone to predictability but I can promise you it does not have a virus as the norm is in these novels but has a library and lots of books so if you are a bookworm and you love books and you want a good dystopian story, go for this one!
Profile Image for Vanessa J..
347 reviews604 followers
July 30, 2015
4.5 out of 5 stars

Books, books, books, books, books, books, books, books, books, books.

Have I caught your attention already? No? Then, BOOOOOOOKSSS!!!

The world of Ink and Bone is a world in which the Great Library of Alexandria still exists. They love books as much as you and me... but they take their love to a higher level: Books are precious and really valuable objects and they must all be preserved in the Great Library. Rare copies cannot be found anywhere and just the more privileged can own a single book. Plus, in this world, people eat and burn books as political protests.

Our protagonist Jess comes from a family of smugglers. He loves books, but he made a living by stealing them and selling them to other people. When he's old enough, his father sends him as an spy to the Great Library. There he starts learning things and realising some things that may or may not be lies and his trust starts to get smaller with time.

Let's start saying how great the characters of this book were. They're from all parts of the world. There are people from France, Spain, the US, Egypt, Arabia, England, etc. There are the intelligent ones, the cunning ones, the lazy, the mysterious... really, there are all kinds of people here, and they're all intriguing in their own way.

My favourite character was by far the Scholar Wolfe. He's the one who teaches most of the lessons and runs the trials... and he's a complex one. At first, I had mixed feelings about him, but the more I read, the more I realised he was in fact great. He has many layers and sometimes it's impossible to decipher him, but I think that only made me love this more.

The other characters were amazing as well. Khalila, Thomas, Dario... they're all complex and flawed and they all have their own personalities.

Lately I've been complaining about the world building in books. Well, let me tell you one thing: This one had one of the best and most original world buildings I've read in books this year. We get to understand how the Burners think, how the Great Library works, we learn about the different jobs one can do in there... and yet there are still some mysteries, which in my opinion made the story more interesting.

I hadn't read anything by Rachel Caine until now, but if her writing in her other books are like the one in Ink and Bone, I am not going to doubt as to whether pick another one soon (probably Prince of Shadows).

The writing was all showing and not telling and I feaking loved it. The descriptions of Alexandria were beautiful. I could get a vivid picture of the Great Library and I got jealous of the characters, who were in the amazing world the author created.

When reading this book, I could not stop thinking about Harry Potter, but don't get me wrong - the concept of this was highly original. It reminded me of HP because if you change Hogwarts for The Great Library and the magic for alchemy and books, you get something similar to Ink and Bone. I must confess something, though: I prefer alchemy to magic by far. It's more intriguing in my opinion, and well, maybe I'm biased but alchemy was the beginning of chemistry and... I'll leave it there. I am starting to sound obsessive about chemistry.

If you're looking for a creative alternate history world with a diverse cast of characters, beautiful writing and you love characters who love books, then Ink and Bone is just for you. I highly recommend it. Now, where is the sequel? I'm going to die waiting for it.



Let's just take a moment of silence because I have read a book and I didn't hate it.

*a minute or two pass*

Thanks. Now, HELL YES, AT LAST!

Review to come. (Tomorrow, probably - it's past midnight here, I'm tired and it usually takes me an hour writing a review, especially if I have lots to say... I just hope I don't forget anything.)

P.S.: I want to be an Obscurist. Yeah, I know, they have their cons, but god, they're the best!

P.P.S.: As much as I love books, I would hate living in this world.
Profile Image for Justine.
1,155 reviews311 followers
December 12, 2020
Second Read December 2020 - 4.5 stars

This still holds up for me rereading it 5 years later. I love the way Caine writes her action scenes in war-torn Oxford, the whole thing was just horrifying.

The characters are all so different, and they all evoke emotion of varying kinds in the reader. Even though I knew what was going to happen at various points, I still enjoyed it immensely. There was always a small part of me that kept hoping for better outcomes even when I knew there was only disaster around the corner.

This time around I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator was very good. I will definitely continue with the audio versions where I can as I go on with my reread and completion of the series.


First Read December 2015 - 5 stars

I absolutely LOVED this adventure book about...books!

Ink and Bone is set in an alternate future where all knowledge in the form of books are controlled by a central authority, (Amazon) The Great Library. (Amazon) The Library doesn’t want anyone else to have original copies of books and basically has it’s own private army of live people and automatons to enforce that.

People are allowed to read anything (Amazon) The Library owns, by way of a copy which is (downloaded) mirrored via alchemy into a (kindle) blank book. However, since it has a lock on the original books, and you can only read anything using a (kindle) blank book which (Amazon) The Library can erase at any time, even if you have a (kindle) blank copy of a book in your possession it doesn’t really belong to you. Not really. That’s because the (kindles) blanks are (programmed) mirrored using this (proprietary file format including DRM) alchemical process that prevents you from being able to do anything to the copies unless you are a (hacker) Obscurist.

Because of their special talent, (hackers) Obscurists are rounded up early by (Amazon) The Library and locked in the Iron Tower, in order to further the interests of that great institution of knowledge and power. Does it sound a bit like absolute power corrupting? Yes indeed.

But don’t worry, there are many who feel that the time has come for (Amazon’s) The Library’s tyranny to end. Excitement abounds.
Profile Image for Mogsy.
2,071 reviews2,633 followers
July 10, 2015
5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2015/07/10/b...

I spent most of the last week bouncing up and down telling everyone I know about Ink and Bone. In case I haven’t already gotten the chance to corner you with my mad ravings about this book, let me just tell you right now: this is an outstanding novel. Needless to say, it is going straight on my Favorites shelf and on my list of best books of 2015. There’s still almost half a year to go but I already know it’ll be hard one to beat. Books of this caliber don’t come along often.

Ink and Bone tells a tale of alternate history. As we all know, the invention of the printing press had an enormous impact on humanity, revolutionizing the way information is acquired, processed, and spread. But what if that never happened? Imagine a world where Johannes Gutenberg’s creation never came to light, a world where great minds like him were systematically silenced every time a new proposal for a method of printing came close to being realized. Imagine no ink plates, no moveable type, no presses – all innovations that were deemed too dangerous by an all-powerful ruling class that seeks to gather and control all knowledge, deciding who should have access to it, how and when.

Jess Brightwell lives in such a world, where the only books that exist are original works or copies painstakingly written out by hand. By law they are all property of the Great Library of Alexandria, that powerful bastion of knowledge that never succumbed to destruction in this reality. The scholars of the Library strictly govern the distribution of books to the public, using a complex alchemical process to deliver content instantly to an individual’s personal Codex or blanks. As a result, traditionally bound books have become very popular on the black market, as has the illegal trade of smuggling them into the hands of private collectors and other rare book hunters. It’s risky, but the Brightwells have prospered in this business, and Jess’ father has decided to take it to the next level by sending his son into the Library’s service, hoping that having an inside man will benefit the family in the long run.

But being a Library servant is a position of prestige, and as such, the trials used to seek out the best of the best are rigorous, brutal, and not always fair. I’ve always been fond of stories about magic schools, but Rachel Caine took the basis of that idea and made it all her own. Together with about two dozen other hopeful postulants, Jess Brightwell travels to the bright, magnificent city of Alexandria, home of the Great Library. Because knowledge is deemed paramount, training doesn’t just involve learning how to run one of the many daughter libraries present in every major city of the world; postulants are also taught to guard and protect it, keeping original works out of the public’s hands even if it means dying for the cause.

As an avid reader, I of course find it difficult argue with the importance of knowledge. But to place its value above human lives? This should clue you into the kind of place our protagonist has landed in, and even with his book smuggling background, Jess is unprepared to learn about the corruption at the heart of Alexandria, or just how deep it lies.

Despite its secrets (or perhaps because of them), the dark underside of the Great Library was a wonder to explore. Imagine a world where the personal ownership of books is forbidden – what a horrifying thought. But the story also appealed to a part of me that understood all too well why some people would resist the rule of the Library, or risk their lives to own a genuine paper book for the chance to hold a hefty volume in their hands, take in the heady scent of age and ink, as well as feel the hard leather of the binding or the crispness of the pages. Ink and Bone had that addictive and intoxicating effect on the delighted bookaholic in me, and I just couldn’t get enough.

The novel is also so much more than that. I’ve never understood what a book hangover felt like until now, wishing I’m still in Jess Brightwell’s world. What Rachel Caine has created here is a rich and vibrant tableau, filled with beauty and amazing wonders but also no shortage of pain and darkness. Scenes of clean and shining Alexandria are juxtaposed by the ugliness of war in England as well as the destructive Greek Fire of the rebel Burners. The same alchemical processes that bring knowledge to the masses are also used to oppress them, keeping a watchful eye out for sedition or powering the nightmarish automatons that guard the Library from its enemies. All told, the world building is phenomenal but so is character development. Jess and his fellow postulants are part of an unforgettable cast, every one of them endearing themselves to me with their unique and individual personalities. Rare is it also to find an adult character in a YA novel as complex as Scholar Christopher Wolfe, who was not at all what I expected, and he quickly became a favorite.

Once I started reading this book, I just couldn’t stop. It has raised the bar for the YA I’ll read for the rest of the year. But it doesn’t matter whether you’re a teen or an adult. Ink and Bone is for everyone, and a must-read for all who treasure the gift of the written word. A perfect mix of breathtaking fantasy and edge-of-your-seat dystopian fiction, this is a masterfully written novel guaranteed to hook you in.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,535 reviews9,945 followers
September 9, 2015

I can not even fathom living in a world where you can not have your own books I mean you could go to jail or most likely be killed for having books!!! If they saw all of mine I would be history!

There are those that have books that they sale to people that are willing to pay anything to have a book, but.... unfortunately, they use kids as runners and if they are caught they will be put to death as well. What is wrong with this place!!!!

Jess is one of the runners in the book. I love his character. He has a twin brother and he had an older brother that was a runner, but he got caught and we will leave it at that. He is a runner for his father. I can't imagine loving money that much to put your children in danger! Anyway, a few years later Jess's dad pays a lot of money to get him into The Great Library to try to become a Scholar. There are only 6 slots so there is a lot of competition from the kids.

I had my favorite characters, Jess, Thomas, Morgan and Khalila, but there are a lot of other kids there too and some are jerks and some are likable as well. It's really sad because some of them die and I'm not saying who.

They have a harsh instructor that doesn't seem to want them there at all. He's mean as he can be and it seems there are a few grumpers wandering around the Library. Oh, and they have the automatons that are lions and other things that will kill you if you get too close to the library if you don't have permission. Hells bells!

I really enjoyed this story. There are so many things going on with magic, evilness, goodness, the fight for change, and people that actually seem evil that turn out to be not so bad.

These kids turned out to be a great group that did everything to help each other in some really hard times. I like that kind of stuff.

I look forward to the next book, but I have to say the end of this one was sad and hopeful at the same time.

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Profile Image for Ashley Marie .
1,299 reviews393 followers
September 6, 2020
*If any of my writer friends love this series, hit me up!*

The original review was wrong. This deserves five stars and more. The whole series is so tightly plotted, and it all starts here. Khalila, Jess, Glain, Dario, Morgan, and my sweet Thomas. It's nuts to think the first time I read this was five years ago, because this series really feels timeless. Rachel Caine has a gift for tossing you off a cliff with five pages to go, doesn't matter which book in a series it is.

Profile Image for seak.
434 reviews473 followers
July 10, 2015
Knowledge is power and that's what the Library has been cultivating for centuries. Instead of releasing this knowledge to the world, it hoards it and if knowledge equals power, then the Library has proven that equation time and again. With an iron hold on the world and it's knowledge, it makes itself out to be the protector of information. Owning books is illegal.

But what it really presents is the stagnation of technology. And Jess is a book smuggler.

Original works are worth their weight in gold and Jess' family has been running books to every sort, but mostly those who will pay the hefty fee. However, soon Jess begins to learn the truth of the Library he's always believed in as he witnesses an automaton in the form of a lion kill with abandon.

Jess also learns about the lengths the Library will go to stop those such as himself who pose a threat to their power. And that doesn't stop Jess' family from enrolling him in the Library's elite and pricey program that would allow him to enter into employment with the Library and become their spy from the inside.

Part Harry Potter, part Hunger Games, Ink and Bone introduces us to the Great Library series and the enrollment class for entry into the Library, but in an alternate world ruled for centuries by the Library. Throughout the book, we follow Jess in a third-person limited perspective as he makes his way through the elimination process of postulants attempting to become either Scholars or Guarda (Library military) of the Library.

If you've read my reviews before, you know I'm a sucker for these kinds of books. Throw a protagonist in a difficult, nigh on impossible school setting and you already have me halfway.

What's great about this entering class is that because of the Library's almost total control, the class students are from all over the world, as diverse as can be, whether from the Middle East, German, or the States. They have an instructor from Hell who has to winnow the class from dozens to 6 ... if he even accepts that many. And the class falls fast.

There are only a couple moments I found my disbelief difficult to suspend, because once you find out the volumes are available to anyone on what is termed a "blank," which is essentially an eReader, all we're really fighting about are original volumes of text. They're cool and all, but if you have the knowledge that's the important thing. And apparently they have some type of decent technology so it's difficult to see how much the Library has really held society back.

I think the story loses the point a little bit, but focuses back up to show the Library is also preventing knowledge from spreading to the point of murder. And they will do anything to stop threats to their power.

I don't read a lot of YA, but I found Ink and Bone to be hugely entertaining. From the very first page, I was enthralled, I couldn't put it down. Yes, I had some moments I questioned, but for pure entertainment value, I was behind this book 100%.

I can't recommend Ink and Bone enough. It's a unique world that draws from our own, only if the Library had risen to power and continued to control the world to this day. I had a blast in it and I can't believe I have to wait a whole year for book 2.

4 out of 5 Stars (highly recommended)
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,322 reviews2,143 followers
January 29, 2016
I liked this book but never really felt involved in it. It was a good story, fairly well told but the characters never really grabbed me. In fact when one of the more important characters in the story was killed I was not at all disturbed and I am sure I should have been! By the end I had still not really grasped the ultimate purpose of the library and I must have missed the the bit that explained the war. Not sure whether I will seek out the next book to read or not.
Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,388 reviews1,469 followers
May 31, 2017
In Ink and Bone, knowledge and power is the name of the game.

"The Library holds itself to be the keeper of both knowledge and wisdom, but it is not true. So much should never be held in the hands of so few, for it is a natural, venal habit of men to hold to power. And knowledge is the purest form of power." pg 51

Printed books, called originals, are now highly prized and illegal to own without a dispensation from the Library. The Library is an entity without borders as powerful as the church or a country, with soldiers and animated machines called automatons, protecting its buildings, holdings and librarians.

Not everyone follows the Library's restrictions and a black market has formed for books. Jess and his family of smugglers runs and sells books at great threat to life and limb. Other factions also resist the Library. They're called Burners and they destroy books with Greek fire, a dangerous and deadly concoction that burns flesh as easily as paper.

"The original scroll had been destroyed by a Burner at the Alexandrian Library ages ago, but there had been one copy made. ... Owning it carried a death penalty. When you steal a book, you steal from the world, the Library propaganda said, and Jess supposed it might be true." pg 22, ebook.

Jess' smuggler father decides that he needs eyes and ears on the inside of the most powerful institute in the world, so he arranges an opportunity for Jess to join the Library. And that is where this story really begins.

The beginning of Ink and Bone bothered me because of its obvious parallels to Harry Potter. A promising young boy on his way to a magical school boards a train and meets a slightly bumbling, shy boy and the smartest girl in his class. But after that cliche "train introduction", the story improves.

While reading this story, I was reminded of the divide between those who love holding traditional books in their hands and ebook readers. The Library has discovered a magical method to use tablets and change the words on the page, very similar to ebooks: "Do you agree it should be wrong to own original works?" Of course, Jess knew he ought to say; it was the standard answer. The Library was never wrong. But something made him say, "I'm not sure." That woke a glint in Wolfe's eyes. "Why not?" "I'd like to hold one," Jess said, quite honestly. "To feel the weight and history of it in my hands. A blank can't be the same, sir." "No," Wolfe agreed. "A blank is a poor, pale imitation, though the words are arranged in precisely the same order; it is the difference between an idea and a physical thing." pg 61, ebook. I enjoy both books and ebooks, but I can see why a reader would prefer one over another.

I enjoyed the general ideas of this book, but between the warring factions, actual wars, magic, alchemy, Library history, twin brother, character backgrounds, book burners or eaters, teenage romance and angst, the story lost its cohesiveness. Caine could have written three different stories with the material contained in one.

Beyond simplifying the story elements, I just couldn't get over the fact that the librarians weren't good guys. Yes, I'm biased. :) But every librarian I've ever known has been a guardian of knowledge, not gate-keeping tyrants.

Recommended for readers who enjoy their young adult fantasy a little scattered and who are open to the idea of sinister librarian-types.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,507 reviews855 followers
February 5, 2017
I very much enjoyed this story especially the second half when the story has had time to evolve. The Great library preserving the world's original texts. Sounds like a good idea, right? Well-no actually. Very wrong! What starts off as a deceptively simple tale, takes a more sinister turn as it is slowly revealed to us the sinister tone of the Great Library's guardianship and its Big Brother nature. Interesting alternative history/ fantasy. Well worth a read.
Profile Image for Candi.
622 reviews4,714 followers
January 14, 2016
3.5 stars

"The first purpose of a librarian is to preserve and defend our books. Sometimes, that means dying for them - or making someone else die for them. Tota est scientia. Knowledge is all."

Imagine what it would be like if you couldn't legally own a single book that you could cherish, re-read over and over again until the pages are dog-eared, and then place it lovingly on your home bookshelf. What if every single word that you read was controlled by a higher power? As readers and book-lovers, I don't think we could envision or tolerate such a world! But, that is exactly the world that author Rachel Caine has created for us in the first book in The Great Library series, Ink and Bone. An alternate history where The Great Library of Alexandria was never destroyed but still exists, the invention of the printing press was never allowed to come to fruition, and the librarians and those in higher positions are in absolute control of all dissemination of knowledge through use of a Codex, an electronic means of communication - these are all realities for Jess Brightwell and the myriad cast of characters we come across in this book. The Brightwell family runs an illegal but lucrative business running and selling original books. But then Jess is presented with the opportunity to train and possibly earn a position within the Library itself. He travels from his hometown of London to the glorious city of Alexandria and is joined by a group of postulants from around the world. There begins their difficult and dangerous education under the tutelage of the enigmatic Scholar Wolfe.

I have to admit, initially I felt disappointed after the first chapter or two. I was confused about the alternate history – especially the reasoning behind it. I also had trouble figuring out the various roles and hierarchy of the library personnel. Many characters appeared and disappeared rather quickly. It took me to almost the halfway point of this book to really grasp and become interested in this mystifying world. Once everything began to click for me, I was committed to seeing this through to the end. I enjoyed the complexities of some of the characters – in particular, Jess Brightwell, who loves books and wants to do the right thing, despite not always knowing what that might be. Scholar Wolfe grew on me and I would like to hear more of his story. Members of a resistance group, known as the Burners, were intriguing –they were presented as the "bad guys" but is there more to them than meets the eye as well? I suspect I would need to read the next book in the series to find out the answer to that question.

There is a lot of peril and adventure in this book, and I found that I turned the pages rather quickly during the second half. I could have done without the magical/alchemy element in this novel – it seems that there were way too many things going on and this just added to the confusion. We also get a glimpse of a war going on between the English and the Welsh, social injustices and starvation of the "common" people, and general unrest – but without a clear explanation as to the origins of this instability. Maybe less is more, at least for me as a reader, but others may find that all these components add to the excitement and intricacies of the plot.

I would be interested in reading the sequel with the hope that many unanswered questions will become clearer in my mind. I want to find out what happens next – what does the future hold for Jess and his friends and Scholar Wolfe? Can the library maintain its power? Will the book-lovers of the world someday be able to hold an original book in their hands without fear of punishment? I recommend Ink and Bone to anyone interested in fantasy/alternate history and in particular to fans of fast-paced, young adult novels.
Profile Image for Mel (Daily Prophecy).
1,093 reviews462 followers
June 17, 2016
4 stars

I think this is the first time I can say I agree with the pitch. This book is SO HP meets The book thief. I loved it, but I hope she invests more time in the world-building in the sequel. I need more information about how everything works, because it's such a fascinating concept!


Review to come.

I always try to ignore the 'PITCHED AS THE NEW X" but damn:

“The Book Thief with Fahrenheit 451 by way of Harry Potter.”

The book thief AND Harry Potter in one sentence.. I think I'm in love.
July 15, 2015
*4.5* stars

Give in. Give up.

Beautiful. Mesmerizing. Addictive. So many words come to mind when I think of this story. I have many regrets as of late, and not being able to read my dystopian/sci-fi/fantasy is one of them. But perhaps the larger crime is that when I do attempt to stick one of these stories in my reading schedule I'm either:

A) too tired
B) too tired
C) too tired

Oh, and did I mention my time has been severely limited? I've always been that girl that scoffs when people say they are 'too tired' or 'don't have time'. I mean, we have the time we make, ya know? And believe me, I still live by this. I set aside adequate time to read this story, only to realize that after about 10 pages (at times while reading) I wouldn't even know what had happened. That was when I decided it was time to set this story down and pick it up when I had time.

Doing this pained me-I never put aside those I truly cherish, and this story was just magnificent. But when you can't do it...you just can't fucking do it. So, as I read 50% on Saturday, I decided to read the last 50% (the most action-packed, heart-wrenching parts of the story) when I had the chance. And oh man, did it kill me-what if when I picked it up, the characters/pace/plot were like strangers to me? But as I (surprisingly) gained a large amount of time yesterday, I picked this story up and it was like I'd never left.

"No, it's alright," he said, and tried to sit up, but the brief nap had stiffened his sore muscles, and it was a clumsy process. He grabbed at the robe to keep it more or less closed. It was mostly a failed attempt, and it exposed the livid black-and-blue of his side. She took in a breath and came to help him rise. He yanked the robe back together and tied it shut.
"Don't apologize," she said. "I've seen worse."
"You mean the bruises, I hope."

It speaks volumes to me when I can put a story down and come back to it with much (if not all) the same feels. Jess's story intrigued and delighted me, making me feel like I was in this magical world that has long since been lost to me. Dare I say that this reminded me of a very twisted version of Harry Potter mixed with The Testing? Not one moment was dull and more than once I felt like I was trapped in a super psycho version of Hogwarts.

Reset the board and keep playing.

That's not to say I felt the story was anything like Harry's, naturally. No, what we have here is dark, sinister, and twisted-wrapped in a neat little package so people believe the Library is good, whole, looking out for the betterment of the world and those who wish to prosper in it. But what lies beneath is much more terrifying (Cue The Testing vibes) and unlike anything Jess could have imagined.

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What if all you had ever worked for, everything you dreamed of, everything you put your whole life into turned out to be exactly what the underbelly of the world said it was? What if your life's goal turned out to be like making a deal with the devil? And what happens when all of your newly found friends began to disappear in horrible and unimaginable ways.....and not just when they get sent home? What then?

What would that be like, to have that single, unshakable faith in the world, to not see all the shadows?

Jess was a truly remarkable character. I remember when my lovely friend Anna was talking about him-She got the vibe that he cared more about this futuristic world where books were coveted holier and more valuable than human lives. She wanted him to care, to fight for people. And in a way I see what she's saying-He was kind of out for himself, ya know? But then here's me, right where I always am: Team Boy. I mean, come on. He's a book smuggler, brought up in an illegal business only to pass a test to be admitted for the chance to become a Library Scholar/Representative/Whatever. He is against other students and time and again proves how cunning he is....and yes, he rocks a 'tude....and I fucking loved it.

Jess is smart and he knows it. He does what he has to to move onto the next round, doing what must be done to move on....but he begins to change. He starts to care. Those people he looked at with competition in his eyes start to become his family, these people who are standing in his way. And would you be so quick to befriend those who could possibly send you back to the horrible world you once lived in? I think not. But Jess...Hmm I loved Jess. Shocking, isn't it?

You said stay.

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And the romance. Daaawww I loved it. While not the main plot point, it still touched me deeply and ripped my heart in two. Morgan and Jess's journey was a tremulous one, danger and secrets swirling around them like an unkempt tornado of peril and destruction. I think that was my favorite part about their romance-which is sick-but I've never said I'm sane, k? Desperation, despair, and longing convolute what is, making for an emotional vortex that you don't realize you're being sucked into....until a plea and raspy voice (Have I mentioned raspy voices in books are my downfall in an emotional scene?? Muaha) are staring you right in the face and you just know it's going to haunt your dreams long after you've finished and gone to bed.

He wanted to laugh at himself for being so stupid. He wanted to scream until his throat bled.

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I just...I can't say why I loved this so much. And I can't say I gave it my all-which breaks my heart. A 5 star book has been lowered because, again, I didn't have the time to give to it, so I can assure you I will be re-reading this as soon as humanly possible. Jess's turmoil touched something deep inside of me, and I longed for him to succeed, to break away from the horrible life he grew up living. I am a sucker for male POVs....and I'm more than certain I will be searching for more male POV books-they seem to be my favorites lately. Again, shocking, isn't it?

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Profile Image for Elise (On The Bookshelves).
61 reviews383 followers
August 4, 2016
Original Post Can Be Found at On The Bookshelves

“There are three parts to learning: information, knowledge and wisdom, A mere accumulation of information is not knowledge, and a treasure of knowledge is not in itself, wisdom.”

It is 2025 and the Great Library of Alexandria still exists with its presence looming over every city. The Library controls the flow of knowledge as the ownership of books is forbidden.

Ink and Bone is an interesting concept, but the story isn't exactly fluid. There's a lot of world building from the overall setting, the Great Library and its hierarchy, and to the use of Alchemy.

The main protagonist is sixteen year old Jess Brightwell. He believes in the Library, but still helps his family run an illegal black market business by retrieving and delivering books to wealthy and knowledge hungry clients.

When an opportunity arises, his family pushes him to complete an entry test to gain an apprenticeship at the library. But his family have ulterior motives as they want him to spy and gather information to avoid raids and discover rare books. However, as Jess becomes more involved with his training and the other teenagers, his loyalties become tested.

The setting is strange, obviously since it's an alternate universe. It's 2025 but it seems as though the world never really developed and felt very reminiscent of an earlier century. Then Alchemy comes into play also with devices that receive updates with information which is controlled by the Library. These essentially sound like primitive versions of iPads.

The story centralizes around a group of teenage apprentices learning to become Librarians as well as the Library being threatened yet again by an individual who begins to think outside the box. This idea would revolutionize the world, and that is through the creation of..... a printing press which can duplicate and create physical copies of books. *GASP*

That's right. Since the Library still exists and controls the flow of knowledge by using Alchemy to allow individuals to read a selected range of titles, they are threatened by these ideas because it would render the Library obsolete. This plot caused a few shakes of the head and some scoffing.

The characters were decent, but not exactly memorable. The main group of characters were very diverse in ethnicity and personality. Jess was your typical protagonist but lacked creating any real connection, and props to Caine for pushing back a romantic interest until the second half of the book. None of the other characters really stood out except for the small allusion to Wolfe and Santi being in a relationship, which was unexpected but nice in the end.

At the beginning of the book it seemed similar to Harry Potter with some of the scenes and the initial dynamic of the characters (e.g. Jess being the protagonist, Khalila being the brightest student and Thomas as the awkward one). This slightly changed later on when the story began to pick up but it definitely reflected Harry Potter/Percy Jackson.

Overall, the book wasn't bad but it just didn't hit the mark personally. Typically for the first installment of a series, you hope to connect with the characters, understand the structure of the world and become really immersed in the story. This didn't really happen so most likely I won't be reading further.

The next installment in The Great Library series, Paper and Fire, is already out in bookstores and Ash and Quill will be out sometime next year.
Profile Image for Maria V. Snyder.
Author 76 books16.9k followers
October 8, 2018
I enjoyed this book very much! Usually when stories are about a library - the library is the place of refuge or solace - a good place to go. Authors love libraries - really how can a place filled with books be bad? Well Rachel twists the trope on this one and while the library is still the keeper of knowledge, it's very stingy with who can access this knowledge - a monopoly and an evil one at that!

The world she crafted is also very unique - a combination of magic and high tech, but because of the limited spread of knowledge certain things are still low tech - like no printing presses. It's an interesting thought experiment - if certain famous inventors didn't have access to knowledge, would they still invent certain things? I just visited the Tesla Museum in Belgrade and learned he had invented wireless remote control and no one believed it! And he wanted energy to be free to everyone and was eventually killed by those who wanted to sell the energy and make money. BTW - Belgrade is a lovely city and worth a visit!

This book is definitely worth reading and I'm certain to pick up the next one!
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