Ink and Bone: The Great Library - Rachel Caine

Somehow, I almost feel like I'm being generous in giving Ink and Bone three stars but there were so many good ideas in there, and some excellent world-building, smothered with a layer of YA instalove that I could see coming a mile off when the second character involved suddenly appeared. 

 

The overall setting is a world where the Library (yep, capital letters time, so you know it's serious!) exists as a separate entity and strictly controls all knowledge and, in particular, books - they use a technology a little like ebooks to be able to send copies of the books held by the Library to anyone who wants to read them, while holding the original. Owning an non-sanctioned book is a serious offence and everyone is also expected to write in their personal journals, which are added to the Library on their death. As well as a healthy black market in smuggling, there is also a resistance movement known as the Burners, who are not above destroying themselves as well. 

 

All of this is told from the perspective of Jess, who we initially meet as a runner for book smugglers in London and who is later told to apply for a job within the Library, since he doesn't have what it takes to be a criminal long-term and his family hope he can do them some good instead on the inside. He's then plunged into a brutal, and sometimes extremely arbitrary, selection process alongside other teenagers for one of the few places available working for the Library. 

 

Naturally, there is more going on behind the scenes at the Library than the outside world realises and Jess gets pulled into the power struggles there, especially when he falls into instalove with a girl who suddenly turns up to be considered for a placement too. She is, naturally, Special (my capitals) and since Jess hasn't fallen for any of the other girls he's met, suddenly YA romance is on the table. Also, because this is meant to be the first of a series, it all goes wrong and they are separated because of something Jess does and she may never forgive him (oh no! except she does, before the end of the book).

 

It probably doesn't help that I'm not part of the target audience for these kind of books and so, where Ink and Bone was concerned, I found myself significantly less interested in Jess and his cohorts than in the two main adults we meet, whose (apparently much more interesting) back-story gets a mention in passing. As a result, I doubt that I'll be carrying on with this series, which continues in Paper and Fire