Book: Ink and Bone

Series: The Great Library #1

Author: Rachel Caine

Pages: 352 (Kindle Edition), 384 (Paperback)

Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Dystopian

Rating: 3 out of 5

Recommendation: Read the Ink and Bone Teacher’s Guide found on Rachel Caine’s website.  This document provides much more information on the background research used to create this world.

The Ink and Bone book cover was intriguing as it had a mix of dark colors and gold writing and the contrast instantly drew us in.  We liked the font used and the fact that there were books at the bottom with a simple line that read, “Knowledge is Power.”

What captured our attention most in the first few pages was that the author drops you right in the middle of an action-packed scene where the main character, Jess Brightwell, is being prepared to deliver smuggled goods.  The world Rachel Caine creates is an interesting one; a dystopian society based in the very near future.  As readers, we wished Caine developed the society she brings us into and described more in depth what it was like to live in this alternate reality.  We feel as though Caine could have split this book into two separate books, and given us more detail about the complex story she created.  

The author opens us up to a world where the great library of Alexandria has taken over and become the governing force throughout the world.  Instead of monarchies or presidents, there is The Library, who oversees and controls all, banning real books from the hands of the people.  Instead, each citizen is equipped with a codex, where they can receive information.  Jess is forced to accept a position within The Library, for the sake of his smuggler father who wants him to be the family spy, and discovers a world he didn’t realize he would grow an attachment to.  At the academy in Alexandria where Jess is to train, he meets his fellow students- characters with a broad spectrum of personality traits.  

We really enjoyed Khalila Seif.  She brought a powerful and kind spirit to the book.  We think young girls would be empowered by her because of the balance of strength and kindness.  She is someone young girls can aspire to be.  

We enjoyed Morgan Hault’s strength, but did not fully understand the role of the Obscurist.  Alchemy is all about the science of chemistry, but the Obscurists are born with a biological trait that assists them in their work.  There seems to be a missing connection between the two types of sciences that would have made the character and the idea stronger.

Thomas Schreiber is the friend everyone wants.  He is good-hearted, honest, and wants the best for everyone.  

Christopher Wolfe and Niccolò Santi are the Scholar/Proctor and High Garda Captain, respectively, for the students during their training.  They seem to have an inseparable bond, having witnessed many things together throughout their time at The Library.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this was a good read.  It could have been better, if the author elaborated and brought the reader deeper into her world. We were thrown into this interesting world where the Library was the governing body, but we didn’t have any background information as to why that was.  There were brief mentions of what lead to the current state of affairs, but no real explanation.  It was such an interesting world, that details like that would have gone a long way in drawing us deeper into the book.  Ink and Bone could have easily been extended by 100 pages providing more details on the society in which they now live.  We were trying to figure out how the society we live in could have possibly turned into the world of the book, but then realized it was just a new world, not our world that arrived to that existence.  Perhaps the second and third books will answer all the lingering questions we were left with.

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