Book Review: Ash and Quill

Series: The Great Library #3

Author: Rachel Caine

Pages: 338 (Hardcover)

Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Dystopian

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Recommendation: The third installment may make you want to quit, but grab a bottle of wine and get through it.  The fourth book holds promise of a resolution.

We need to preface this by saying that we thought this was the last book in the series.  We were very wrong as it is only the third book in a five book series. ::sigh::  

Our book review may or may not have been different had we known about the lengthier series.

Okay, onto the book review!

The third book of The Great Library series was more of the same.  I think the overall story is going to be a great one, but the third book falls along the same lines as the first, where there is a lot of information and a lot of action, but overall, nothing really happens.  We were introduced to a group of new characters, only to have them go off into nothingness at the end of the book. We’re sure some of these characters will return in later books (the plot seems to be heading in that direction), but they did not play a massive role in this book.

Okay, so what is this book about?  Our group of heroes is transported to Philadelphia, the headquarters for the Burner Nation (that’s not really what it’s called, but that’s what we’re calling it).  They don’t exactly get a warm welcome at first, but then they reveal the plans for a project that will give the burners the power they want over the library.  Our main character, Jess, starts to see the Burners in a different light – he can sympathize with their struggles, although he doesn’t agree with the way they execute their ideals.  For the past century, the city of Philadelphia has been struggling to survive.  Meager food rations, and relying on smugglers to bring goods into the city, make living conditions in Philadelphia abominable.  Compound that with the Library’s High Garda randomly dropping bombs, and you have a war-torn city full of hatred and fighting each and everyday to survive.  Their hatred of the Library is what keeps Jess and his comrades locked in prison cells when not doing the bidding of Burner leader, Willinger Beck.  While working on Beck’s project, the group devises a plan to get out of Burner Nation with the help of some unlikely allies.

After they leave Burner Nation – this isn’t really a spoiler because they are most certainly resourceful – they then head to an even unlikelier place where they, yet again, have to devise a plan to escape.  Morgan and Jess still have the whole unrequited love thing, Khalila and Dario maintain their relationship (and possibly escalate it, but not in the way you’re thinking although we like where your head’s at ; ), and Santi and Wolfe still love each other even though they disagree over pretty much everything except how much they love each other.

Final Thoughts for This Book Review

The weird thing is that the book IS interesting, even in the midst of its monotony.  There’s a lot of action and a good storyline, but we still expected more probably because we thought it was the final installment of the series.  It’s a lot like the first book, Ink and Bone, where Rachel Caine sets you up for the next book, Paper and Fire, but the layout of the plan isn’t always as entertaining as the actual plan.  The prominent message of “power corrupts” still exists in book three, along with the same message of standing up for what’s right in the end.  The goal of dismantling the current model of the Library and trying to bring back the original objectives the Library once had, and what the Library originally stood for, is also an ever-present theme in this book.  On a positive note, the reader definitely gets to know all of the characters on a much deeper, more personal level.  All of their innermost feelings, fears and character traits are brought to the surface.  

We have high hopes that the fourth book will be as interesting as Paper and Fire, since Ash and Quill laid out the plan for an interesting plot for the fourth book (Untitled at this time).

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