Hey guys! I hope your week is going marvelously \(◡̈ )/♥︎
So today I bring you an audiobook review (although it can absolutely be read as a book review), something I never do on the blog, which is weird because I do love audiobooks and I’ve been using them for a while now.
I’ve recently finished Paper and Fire, Ink and Bone‘s sequel, and thought it would be best to have one posted before the other.
So here we go!
This review is completely spoiler-free.
***Please don’t use any of the graphics in this post without permission.***
In an alternate reality, the Great Library of Alexandria was never burned to the ground. It was saved and all its contents with it. The need to protect these precious volumes and scrolls resulted in nations coming together to ensure wars and the greed of men would never be able to destroy them.
But what started as a selfless act quickly led to a corrupt hierarchy and an atrocious notion: that knowledge is above all else, even human lives. While some fight for the Library’s ideals, others fight against it and a group of seemingly innocent teenagers gets caught up in the middle, when all they’d wanted was to get a proper education.
The first book in The Great Library trilogy is pitched as a book about books (and how they’re the most important thing in the whole world) so, of course, I was in!
From the beginning, I did get a very Harry Potteresque vibe from Ink and Bone, which I was fine with because it never feels like a rip-off of any sort. Just extremely nostalgic and heart-warming, making you want to go explore this new world badly. It quickly diverges from there and becomes its own thing. But don’t be fooled: Ink and Bone is definitely not a happy-go-lucky read. It got dark fast and it truly surprised me with its complexity.
This book is full of interesting facts and historical knowledge. Being an alternate reality, it’s true that many of them were warped in order to fit the story, but most are true and you can easily verify them. The author did go through a lot of research and you can see it in her work. So it will very likely please any nerd.
Everything was so intriguing and fascinating, with a great steampunky ambiance, tons of cool gadgets, intrigue, suspense… I mean, this book had so much going on, I didn’t have much time to breathe properly.
The imaginery formed in my mind was so magical, so tangible. The author really went out of her way to give us a very specific picture of her world, yet still allowing us to form our own ideas and drawing out conclusions from everything that was not said (and a lot of it wasn’t, which leads me to believe it will be revealed in later books).
I adored the attention given to books. This society is a book loving one, to the point where human lives don’t matter when it comes to saving history and knowledge. So, of course, it ends up being a very intriguing false utopia/dystopia. It constantly teases you to take sides and you will find yourself unable to choose at times because a lot of what each side stands for actually makes sense.
I did enjoy the friendships in this and how they evolved from Jess being a complete outsider to actually starting to trust and care for others, and to finally call them his true friends. I liked the fact that, despite being played as apparently simple, one-dimensional stereotypical characters, all of them revealed to be more than that at one point or another. Crucial moments in the story were able to bring out a hidden part of them and blow our minds with it.
It was really special to see that transition, as if they were my own babies growing up to become adults. There were a lot of opportunities to explore the psychological and emotional components and I think Caine took them all.
There is quite a bit of diversity in this book: all characters have different nationalities and there’s at least one non-heterosexual couple. So yay!
After an interesting, kickass prologue, the true beginning of this story was slow. It took me a while to get into its pace and it all felt a bit too familiar, as though I had read this type of story before. (Harry Potter?)
Then, there were tiny plot holes left in between as well as other details that kept me from fully enjoying this book.
For instance, all those plot twists? Yeah, half of them I could see coming a mile away. Still nice, but it would be so much better to actually be surprised by them. Even most outcomes were pretty predictable and didn’t leave much to the imagination. Thankfully, it all happened so fast sometimes I didn’t have the time to think or come up with any conjectures. So that kind of saved it.
The romance in this, however brief, is unappealing. I did enjoy snippets of it here and there, but if I look back, as a whole, to everything that happened in those so-called relationships, I see no spark. No flame. No chemistry. Just two people who you had known from the start would get together, getting together. Eventually. With some mild, confusing angst in between.
The main relationship looked like insta-love, which coming from such a great story, was really disappointing. I mean, it could have been so awesome, so fitting, so angsty! It could have been such a great asset to such a great plot, and serve the sequel so well! Instead, it managed to be close to cute (yes, I admit it) but that’s about it.
Then, one of the most beloved characters in the whole story barely even shows up! It’s inconceivable.
As a non-protagonist, Jess’s brother, Brandon, had me more intrigued than, say, Jess himself. I did sympathize with Jess and actually saw myself in him tons of times, but he also bored and annoyed me on an equal amount. I sort of had a hate-love thing going on with him: sometimes I loved his spunk and personality, other times I just sighed and shook my head at how frustrating he was.
Finally, some things just didn’t make sense and no one tried to explain them. I’m really hoping the sequel sheds some light on that.
I really liked Ink and Bone. I felt it had some issues such as cheesiness and predictability but, overall, it was a great read. It was overwhelmingly entertaining most of the time and very easy to get into. Once it starts, it’s hard to put down and I found myself ten, twenty pages in without noticing it (after getting past the slow intro, that is).
But it needed a bit more to get the five stars I know it actually deserves. Based on all the hype, I felt a tiny bit disappointed. Maybe my expectations were too high…
I loved Julian Elfer and thought his voice was amazing for this type of narrative, giving it a sort of epic quality. He grasped every emotion so well, with lots of little intonations and tone variations, and even did a few accents here and there that really helped bring the characters to life. Whenever speaking as a female, he didn’t go overboard like some narrators and made them sound like breathy aliens. Instead, he used a slightly higher pitch that was enough to help me differentiate between genres but still make them sound great. His overall enthusiasm was also really enjoyable and even contagious.
Basically, if you love books (which I’m sure you do) you’ll like this one. But you won’t be satisfied. You’ll the need the sequel. You’ll probably even need to re-read it again to fully take in all the details. Which is great news, and means this is a cohesive trilogy. I just can’t wait to finish it!
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Thank you so much for reading and until next time!
Do you plan to read Ink and Bone? Share your thoughts below! (^人^)