Book Reviews

Review: “Ink & Bone,” Rachel Caine

February 13, 2016
Review: “Ink & Bone,” Rachel CaineInk & Boneby Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library #1
Published by Allison & Busby on July, 2015
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Steampunk
Pages: 407
Book Depository | Bookworld | Booktopia

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...

Ink & Bone, while incredibly well-written as standard of Rachel Caine, sadly just wasn’t my cup of tea. There was a lot of it that I really appreciated, but nothing really ‘grabbed’ me and it was quite hard to get through the 400+ pages.

 “The first purpose of a librarian is to preserve and defend our books. Sometimes, that means dying for them – or making someone else die for them. Tota est scientia.

I’m a huge fan of Rachel Caine – I’m always willing to give anything she’s written a go. My love for her more so stems from the Morganville Vampires series, but I think all her work is pretty much solid in terms of creativity and method. Ink & Bone was no different.

I knew a few chapters in that the story wasn’t for me, but I pushed on because IT’S RACHEL CAINE. There is quite really no reason that someone shouldn’t rate this book five stars – I had no problem with the writing style, the pace or any other ‘technical’ things that would prevent me from giving a great rating. Apart from the flimsy romance between Jess and Morgan, this book was incredibly unique and quite free of the usual tropes. What I rated this book for, however, was my personal enjoyment of the story. What it all boiled down to in the end was that it just wasn’t for me.

“You have ink in your blood, boy, and no help for it. Books will never be just a business to you.”

Jess Brightwell is our protagonist, and as far as male lead POV’s go (admission here – I rarely read male POV’s and it puts me off when I see a book has one) he was a pretty good narrator. I actually found myself really warming up to Jess and enjoyed that he didn’t make stupid decisions. He ‘felt’ like a guy, too. If you have read any of my other male POV reviews, you’ll know that I absolutely despite when guys read like girls.

I really loved the diversity in this book. The secondary cast of students is made up from all different nations and races, and they all got equal amount of screen time. There was also an adult same-sex romance, which was a nice touch. All the characters worked nicely together and all had their different ideas and approaches to the troubles they faced within the pages of Ink & Bone.

Yup, this book is a book about books. You’ll glean enough about it from the synopsis, so I won’t recap it here, but the world-building can be a bit full-on once you dive into the book. What worried me, however, was due to my lack of enthusiasm for what was going on, I was bored. Unfortunately, the premise of a group of promising young students trying to undermine the all-powerful ‘Library’ and make all knowledge free just wasn’t something I particularly wanted to read about.

“We never wanted to conquer the world, only our fears.”

There are so many elements to Ink & Bone; burners vs the library, England vs wales, students trying to grab a coveted place within the Great Library, Jess trying to outrun his family’s book-smuggling reputation – and the bigger plot of the Library controlling the world’s knowledge … there was SO MUCH GOING ON. Throw in a side of steampunk automatons, green fire (dragon fire, anyone?) and it’s hard to put this book into any kind of basket. It’s an alternative world rather than a dystopian, too, with an even mix of historical and steampunky accents.

I was also quite confused with all the talk about ‘blanks’ and ‘codexes’ and all that. There was so much to really digest and keep in mind when reading. It was hard to do when all I wanted to do was put the book down and take a break. Ink & Bone took me a few days to get through, too.

This is the start of Rachel Caine’s newest series, but unfortunately I won’t be continuing with it. While I really enjoyed the diverse cast and unique elements of Ink & Bone, the basic premise of it wasn’t enough to stir me to enjoyment. I continue, however, to be a massive fan of Rachel Caine!

About Rachel Caine

Rachel Caine is a pen name of Roxanne Longstreet Conrad, an American writer of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, suspense, and horror novels. Conrad also publishes media tie-in novels as Julie Fortune. Rachel Caine has been writing and publishing novels and short stories since 1991. She is a former professional musician who has the distinction of having played with such musical legends as Henry Mancini, Peter Nero and John Williams.


  • Reply Kyra @ Blog of a Bookaholic February 13, 2016 at 6:25 am

    Aw, sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy this! <3 I have this out from the library at the moment and will be reading it shortly, so hoping I enjoy it more as I really want to love it! Wonderful review. <3
    Kyra @ Blog of a Bookaholic recently posted…Valentine’s Week #3 – My favorite love quotes from booksMy Profile

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