Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ink and bone by Rachel Caine

In an alternate version of our own world the great library of Alexandria was not destroyed, but instead became the Great Library that guides the world and provides the knowledge people need to go about their daily lives.  In cities all over the world Serapeum, the daughter libraries, provide people with access to the knowledge housed in the Great Library and the Archives.  Any person who owns a Blank can access the material they want and need, but that doesn't stop a thriving black market that operates in the shadows, selling Original books to anyone who has the money to purchase what they desire.

Working the black market can be dangerous for an adult - for children growing up in that same world it can be deadly if they are caught.  His whole life Jess Brightwell has been preparing to work in the family business, running the streets with contraband books strapped to his chest, learning the routes to run and the true value of Original books kept hidden from the Library.  All that changes when his father decides to buy him an entrance exam to the Great Library, and instead of working in the black market, Jess finds himself studying to become part of that which his family hates.  To make matters worse the world of the Great Library is full of dangers and mysteries that place the life of Jess and all his classmates in mortal danger.

It is rare to find a book that is fresh, bold, and brave - and Ink and bone is all three.  Rachael Caine has created an alternate reality that has touches of the expected alongside a mind boggling and eye opening reality that takes some believing.  I initially picked the book up because it is about the "Great library" and what librarian could miss the tantalising thought of a world ruled by the Library and Librarians (sad I know, but true).  What I found inside the pages was not a tongue in cheek look at a possible world - what I found was a breath taking new world that I couldn't step outside of once I was there.  I was not entirely convinced that I liked Jess and his world at first, but it was a world that I didn't want to leave and the wait for the sequel is bitter sweet - sweet because we will get to spend more time in the world of the Great Library, and bitter because I have to wait for Caine to write it!

It is unusual to come across a book that is difficult to define into a genre, and rare to come across a book that can be pitched to both boys and girls - Caine has managed both.  Ink and bone has a vast cast of characters that are in the game for their own goals, and Caine is not afraid to maim and kill her characters - something that teen authors still seem to shy away from.  There are conspiracies, betrayals, acts of war and violence, and acts of redemption.  Because of the genuine way Caine has written Ink and bone I would recommend it for older teens who have the emotional capacity to cope and understand - older children and younger teens may not have the life experience to cope with the reality of a world at war.  

Conspiracies (seemingly) hiding in every corner makes this an intriguing world with layers and layers of secrets, and plenty of opportunity to show your true colours.  A truly wonderful find and a delightful read.  Best suited for fans of action and thrillers, although there are enough fantasy elements to keep those readers happy too.  Here's hoping we don't have to wait too long for the sequel!

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

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