1. For starters...the concept. This is an alternative history where a library burned taking thousands or original works with it. So The Library (yes capitalized) was put into place to protect all original written works from disasters, war, accidents, etc and to make all of the knowledge in those pages available to the world via "blanks". Think e-readers and how ebooks are loaned. An amazing concept of cherishing words and ensuring they're protected. But it all went horribly wrong as years passed and the concept was taken to twisted extremes. It's illegal to own an original book. They belong to The Library. They have soldiers that will do anything to get those books out of the hands of the individual and into the safety of The Library. You can be fined, jailed or worse if you're found with a real book. They also eliminate or hide anything that could compromise The Library as it stands now. Any thoughts they deem a threat are quickly eliminated.
There's unrest and a divided too with The Library who is pretty much on a power trip, smugglers who trade in black market books and Burners who would rather burn books or die than let The Library have them. It's a dangerous world.
2. The setting. Holy freaking make a reader girl pant! The Library of Alexandria. It didn't burn! It's the center of...everything and where the kids are training, where every original book is protected, etc. I've not read one set in Egypt and while it wasn't discussed at length you got the feel of it. The buildings, the heat, etc.
3. The characters were fantastic. A group of young kids who have come to train and compete for acceptance into service with The Library as scholars, guards, etc. Thousands applied, 30 tested, 6 spots available. A Scholar there to test them. I loved the characters. They're from all different countries and lifestyles. They're each others competition but also their only comfort. Grueling days and the constant fear of being eliminated and then when things leave the classroom a very real fear of death as they're sent into a war zone in the name of The Library. Their instructor was a hard man that had hidden sides to him and that really grew on me. The guarda who helped train them. I really just loved them as a group. They're not ones to get attached to though. Not if you can help it because there are forces inside the library that have sinister intentions where they're concerned.
4. It's dark. This is NOT an easy light read. It's dark and twisted and gritty. These kids are put through a horrible experience. There's bloody brutal war, deaths, betrayals and manipulations. They went in innocence and shiny but day after day their training beat that out of them and slowly see the ugly side of The Library. The part that's taken over the original concept and tainted it. One that stifles and controls instead of flourishing and encouraging original thought. It was fascinating but not light and easy.
5. The ending. This one. Caine is known for her cliffhangers. Some are horrid (in an amazing way) but this one was mild from my experience with her. The storyline of their training and acceptance into service concludes but there's open threads that I can't wait to see play out as this group is scattered into their areas of service and hopefully will fight those who have turned The Library into the opposite of what it should be.Caine has an incredible talent and a brilliant mind when it comes to creating stunningly unique worlds. Ink and Bone proved that once again. The concept, the location, the characters. This is a Young Adult—the kids are around 16ish—but it's very much a read for adults as well and one that should not be missed.
Have you read Caine? Have a favorite?
What was your last truly unique read?
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.…
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