Ink and Bone

Ink and Bone, by Rachel Caine, is our most recent “read-together” book. The novel is difficult to categorize. It has a steampunk vibe, but it is set in the future. It also could qualify as alternate history since, at the center of the novel, is the Library of Alexandria, which was never destroyed. It also has a dystopian feel because free thought is restricted, people are spied on without their knowledge, and the core characters seem to be destined to overthrow a corrupt, yet all-powerful, system.

As Phoebe will note, there are some strong Harry Potter resonances. Not so much in the plot, but in the personalities of the characters and their dynamic. But we did forget about that after awhile, as the main characters asserted themselves as distinct people.

One thing I liked about it was the multi-cultural nature of the cast. Jess, the protagonist, is from London, but the other main characters hail from all over Europe, and there is an assortment of religions represented. They also have distinct personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. They are interesting people, and, as a reader, you are invested in their success.

Characters do die, and there is a war going on, and Jess and his friends have to work in a war zone at one point. And there is nothing glorious about it. People suffer and experience loss and physical harm–but at no point did I consider it gratuitous. I don’t recall ever thinking that X crossed a line or that the author did not need to do Y.

I would recommend it, particularly if you are a fan of the Harry Potter and looking for something new. It is the first book of a series, so there are some cliffhangers, but they aren’t drastic. Some aspects of the plot are tied up and there is a conclusion for someone who doesn’t want to go further. And now for Phoebe’s review!

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Ink and Bone, by Rachel Caine, is the first book in the Great Library series. It is set in 2034, where real paper books, called “originals,” are illegal. You can only read books on “blanks,” which are kind of like e-books. This book follows Jess Brightwell. His family are smugglers; they take originals and smuggle them to important people who pay lots of money to his family. After taking a test, Jess is accepted in the Great Library’s training program.

The thing that I really enjoyed about this book is that it was so good at character development, and that made it really suspenseful. Although the story is narrated by Jess, and mainly follows his journey through the training program, we learn so much about the other characters.

So many times, in this book, I compared the characters to characters from the Harry Potter series. We have Jess, who is very much like Harry Potter. He is usually the hero in many situations, he has abilities that many other people have. We have Khalila, who is very much the Hermione Granger of the story. She is very smart, always knows the answer to a question, and at times she even acted like Hermione. We had Thomas who at first seemed like Ron Weasley, but as we got more character development on him, he was more like Neville Longbottom; willing to do anything for his friends.

This book was very good, and I will definitely recommend it to some of my friends. I look forward to reading the other books!

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