Review: Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine


Publisher: Allison & Busby
Release date: July 7, 2015
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 407
Goodreads || Book Depository

Knowledge is power. Power corrupts.

In a world where the ancient Great Library of Alexandria was never destroyed, knowledge now rules the world: freely available, but strictly controlled. Owning private books is a crime.

Jess Brightwell is the son of a black market book smuggler, sent to the Library to compete for a position as a scholar . . . but even as he forms friendships and finds his true gifts, he begins to unearth the dark secrets of the greatest, most revered institution in the world.

Those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn. . . .


4 stars

Ink and Bone is an alternate history novel, set in a world where the Great Library of Alexandria was never destroyed. In this world, knowledge is power and more important than anything else in the world. Because of this, the Library and its staff rule over everything and not everybody uses their power for good… The world is full of people who want knowledge to be free and accessible for everybody and rebellious groups have formed as a result of this, such as the Burners, who burn books and martyr themselves to make a point. There are also black market book smugglers who steal and sell original and unique copies of books to collectors. Jess Brightwell was born and raised in a family of book smugglers but he’s never really fit in with everybody else. One day, he’s given the chance to sit an exam to become a Scholar at the Library in Alexandria, and the story starts from there.

Knowledge is all. The Library’s motto, and this was what it meant in the real world. It meant that nothing, nothing was more valuable. Not even lives.

I really, really loved the world in this book. It was a regressed society, meaning that it’s set in the future in 2025 but almost felt like it was set in the 19th century instead. It had some really cool sci-fi and steampunk elements, with automatons shaped like lions and teleportation/translation through a ‘portal’. Each character also had a Codex, which came across to me as a cross between a book and a tablet. The characters were able to send messages to each other through the blank pages of the Codex, and it also contained the complete list of titles available in the Library. I thought it was a really unique idea and really enjoyed it. I have to admit that it did take me a while to get a good sense of the world. It was just so futuristic and historical at the same time that I had some difficulty comprehending and imagining it all at times.

The characters in this novel were absolutely magnificent. I really enjoyed Jess as a main character. There was a point in the book when I thought he was going to be the Chosen One and I shuddered a little at the thought of another Chosen One story, but I’m glad that it didn’t turn out that way. The characters were all very complex and they all had some secrets to hide, which made them very multi-dimensional and unpredictable. The diversity in the characters was wonderful. I loved that there was racial diversity as well as sexual diversity. Overall, they were characters that I enjoyed reading about and had no problem rooting for. What I had a bit of a hard time dealing with were some of the Library staff. I couldn’t really keep them straight in my head because they were referred to by their titles rather than by names. It took me almost the whole book to remember what their role was and whether they were good or evil.

For me, the world and the characters definitely the standout aspects of this book. While I really enjoyed the plot, I was missing a little bit of the ebbs and flows that we usually see in story arcs. There wasn’t a climax or resolution and I just wanted the book have more of a build up of intensity. I loved what I read but it all felt a little bit flat, which stopped me from being super excited and invested in the book. It almost felt like the book was cut off before the excitement began. I am in a slight reading slump, so maybe that’s just me not really feeling excited to read in general.

What I also didn’t really like in this book was the romance. I just wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t see a lot of development so it almost felt like it came out of nowhere. There was definitely some attraction and interest, but they went from just chatting like friends to kissing and it just didn’t feel genuine to me. The romance is a pretty small part of the book though, so it didn’t bother me too much.

Despite the little problems that I had with the book, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It wasn’t a book that was on my TBR but I’m glad that it was recommended and pushed to me.


27 thoughts on “Review: Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

  1. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence says:

    Aila and I are also glad that we pushed it on you too *nods*. What I really loved about this book was the unique setting where the Great Library was the source of all evil and corruption, such an interesting plot for a dystopian series! So glad you ended up enjoying it, despite a few niggles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      Yeah I thought the setting was so interesting! And omg I’m still not over that guy who ate that book T_T I’m scarred for life, Jeann! It was definitely interesting to think about libraries as sources of evil. I’m glad our world is a little bit different 😀


    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      Yeah I haven’t really seen any reviews around either! I did hear about it a little when it first came out but nothing that really grabbed my attention and really made me want to read it. I’m glad that I finally did pick it up though because I thought it was really unique and interesting!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    Great review Jenna!
    I loved this book when I first read it (I’m planning to re-read it before the second one comes out), the world-building and the characters were amazing. I agree with you about the romance though, it felt like it was kind of put in more for the sake of it than anything else.
    I loved the idea of a world where the Great Library of Alexandria wasn’t destroyed and I thought this book was a really interesting take on the concept.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kat Impossible says:

    The whole knowledge and library themed world seems so intriguing, but it is always a little disappointing when the plot doesn’t actually live up to that. But still, your rating was still very high, so I might take a look at it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      Yeah, it was still a really great book. My only real problem was that it didn’t feel like it reached a peak at any point. There was no climax and resolution, which I guess there doesn’t need to be… but I just felt like the intensity levels just stayed the same throughout the book and didn’t excite me as much as it could have.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Valerie says:

    Awesome review Jenna! I actually couldn’t get into to this when I borrowed it from the library (haha), but I’m hoping I have the chance to give it another shot. Maybe. So yeah, I’m glad you liked it! I’ve seen so many positive reviews, and I wish I just pushed myself to read more and see if it got better for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      You should definitely give this a second go! I totally understand what you mean about not being able to get into it. The atmosphere and world of the book is kinda heavy and the writing also feels heavy, so it’s kinda harder to immerse yourself (in my opinion anyway!). But the plot is so intriguing, it’ll hopefully have your full attention the next time you check it out!


  5. Lois says:

    A book that has books at the center of it’s political landscape? Sign me up. I love the fact that the book emphasized the power of knowledge instead of brute force and how people can manipulate and abuse that knowledge. It sounds so fascinating. I also love jumping at a chance to read a book with a male protagonist taking center stage. I feel like I don’t read enough of them haha. I was excited to read this book last year but somehow I completely forgot about. I’m so happy you enjoyed it despite the little issues you had. Hopefully those issues get resolved in the books to come. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      I thought it was so interesting that knowledge was power as well! That was probably what really free me to the world and the plot. It was interesting to read about a library being the source of evil instead of the awesomeness that we associate with them. Definitely an intriguing alternate take on history and what could’ve been! I also really liked the regressed society and how everything seemed so dated, despite knowledge being so important.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      Yeah the romance was such a small part of the book that I wish it wasn’t there. It seemed kinda forced and unnecessary. I’m keen to see how that’s handled in the next books and hopefully the series doesn’t become romance heavy…


  6. Summer @ Xingsings says:

    The setting and characters sound fab, but I’m sorry that it had a week construction (no apparent climax or resolution) overall. And that’s too bad about the romance! Have you read Rachel Caine’s other work? I have a lot of the books in the Morganville Vampire series but haven’t had a chance to get to them. I have this feeling I’ll like them though since I tend to enjoy vampire novels a lot. XD


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