Weekend Reads #83 – The Great Library by Rachel Caine

Posted November 5, 2016 by Lillian in Reviews / 0 Comments

Weekend Reads

Happy Saturday weekend readers! Today I wanted to share with you all a newer series by Rachel Caine that I tried (and failed) to read last year. The first two books are out with the third due in July of next year. If you enjoy steampunk, alternate history fiction, and of course action, adventure and a little romance all in a young adult setting, I highly suggest you check them out!

I received this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

Weekend Reads #83 – The Great Library by Rachel CaineInk and Bone by Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library #1
Published by NAL on 2015-07-07
Length: 352 pages
Reviewing eARC, Audiobook from Netgalley
Reading Challenges: 2016 Dystopia Reading Challenge

In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time.…

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that 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 and Bone by Rachel Caine is the first in her new series The Great Library in which the author has changed history, allowing the Library of Alexandria to survive. Imagine for a moment a world where books, actual physical copies, are illegal to possess. The bookworm living inside me just withered and died at the thought! This is only in part the world the characters face in this book.

I loved the alternate history in which the library has survived and become the Library, an all-powerful entity who controls the world governments, the information that is allowed in the public and silences those that oppose them. It’s truly a scary thought! The Library, while it is a thing, represents the oppressing government and is the point of antagonism in the series. I like how the author recreates a history in which the Library is similar to the Roman governments and Roman Catholic church during its early reign. It’s interesting to see the dynamic and effect books have on the society as a whole.

There’s a large cast of characters that resembles that of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but the story itself is unique. I enjoyed the diversity of the characters with backgrounds from Britain, Welsh, German, America, Egypt, Spain, etc. It provided a glimpse of the way these countries fare against the Library.

Jess makes an excellent protagonist! He’s the underdog, raised in a smuggling family and in a life of crime, he makes himself a better person, strives to be at least. He’s passionate about books and preserving them, finding a way to share them with the world….but that borders on heresy to the Library. His smarts though gain him access to learn and serve at the Library.

The plot centers around Jess and his fellow postulants as they learn and are tested at the Library. I’ll be honest, I struggled in the first half of the story as the pace was slow, setting the stage for the series, BUT it picks up in the last half. I was fully immersed in the world created by Caine and found myself holding my breath, reading as fast as I could to find out what happened next.

Overall I enjoyed the story! The chemistry between the characters and the alternate history drew me in. I found myself wondering a lot of “what if’s” and doing my own research on names mentioned and events that happened. If you enjoy alternate history, action and adventure, and a large cast of characters, I highly recommend you dive into the series!

I received this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

Weekend Reads #83 – The Great Library by Rachel CainePaper and Fire by Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library #2
Published by NAL on 2016-07-05
Length: 365 pages
Reviewing eARC, Audiobook from Netgalley
Reading Challenges: 2016 Dystopia Reading Challenge, 2016 New Release Challenge

With an iron fist, The Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower and doomed to a life apart.

Embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.

But Jess’s home isn't safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, or the Library willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control...

What an intense read! Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine picks up where Ink and Bone left off. Jess and his friends are separated, assigned their duties and rank within the Library. Nothing is what it seemed to be. The disillusioned Jess has accepted the awful things the Library represents, but he hasn’t given up on his friend who is presumed dead, the girl he loves locked away in the Iron Tower, or the fact that books/knowledge should be free to everyone. An uprising is coming, but who will survive?

As much as I enjoyed Ink and Bone, I liked its sequel better. Paper and Fire does not suffer second-book syndrome, that’s for sure! The action immediately starts as Jess and Glaine are training with the Garda and their assignment leads them to Scholar Wolfe and a failed assassination attempt. Jess is still a favorite character of mine. He is brave, loyal, and despite his upbringing cares deeply for those that he survived with. He will fight for them, no matter the cost.

With the world building out of the way, the plot of this book is more character driven as Jess learns more about himself and the man he wishes to be, the things he is willing to give up, and what is worth fighting for. I loved seeing the Automata in a new light this book. They are introduced as the robotic guards of the library during the last book, but the author features them prominently in this one. I liked seeing how the characters feared and interacted with these metal creatures.

The plot of this book is that of a dystopian. The characters are trying to overthrow the library and get knowledge back into the hands of the people. They walk a fine line between heresy and loyalists, their actions and what drives them pure. There is more action in this book than the last (if that’s possible), it seems every page is littered with blood.

Overall I enjoyed this read, finishing it in under a day! It was addictive and I had to know what would happen. My only complaint was the love interest for Jess. I just didn’t feel the chemistry or understand the bond between the two. I had a few eyeroll moments when reading their “passionate” kisses, more like hormones in overdrive 😉 If you enjoy alternate history and liked the first book, I highly recommend continuing with Paper and Fire.

About Rachel Caine

Rachel Caine is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 45 novels to date, and many short stories, including fantasy, urban fantasy, science fiction, young adult fiction, mystery, thriller, and horror. Her notable series include The Morganville Vampires, Weather Warden, Revivalist, Red Letter Days, and Outcast Season novels. She graduated from Socorro High School in El Paso, Texas, and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. Her first short story was published in 1990, and her first novel in 1991.

After a long career in business (including working as an office manager, payroll manager, insurance investigator, web designer, graphic designer, and corporate communications executive) she began writing full time in 2009.

She and her husband, artist R. Cat Conrad, live and work in Fort Worth, Texas.

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