Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine [Review]: An Intriguing and Imaginative Book About Books


That is me upon finishing this story. IT’S A BOOK ABOUT BOOKS. A! BOOK!! ABOUT! BOOKS!

Not only that, but the book’s protagonist is a male lead who loves books just as much as we do! Upon starting this book, I knew I would fall head over heels for it, and that I did.

Jess Brightwell lives in an alternate future where The Library of Alexandria has never burnt down, and where the Library is an organization that owns ALL THE BOOKS and doesn’t let people own books for themselves. In this future, knowledge is power, and hardcopies of books are prized possessions, ones that people actually kill for. In this world, through alchemy and technology, people can “borrow” books from the Library, through a sort of ‘tablet’. Jess is part of a family of book smugglers. He risks his life by carrying books across long distances to give them to people who pay the right price. But Jess’ life quickly takes a turn when his father decides to enroll him in training to be a member of The Library, thus expecting Jess to lead a double life. However the competition to become a member is far more dangerous than anyone thought, and no one expected Jess to actually like the job…

This book has an incredibly diverse cast of characters! All of Jess’ competition hail from different places of the world, and they all have amazing personalities and backstories. There’s an interracial romance and also an LGBT romance (YESSSSS).  I’ve got to say that my favorite character was Khalila, who seemed to me like a muslim Hermione. She was easily the smartest amongst the group, the most courageous, and the best, just the absolute best. 

I liked that from the beginning it’s established that Jess isn’t a special snowflake. He’s not the brightest or the best, he’s just smart and quick-witted. Jess’ life at the Library is terrifying at every moment, seeing as he’s always being monitored (even when he doesn’t know it) and the trials he has to face can kill him at any moment.

I LOVEEEEEED that The Library was this big omnipresent threat throughout the book. In between each chapter, you could read a little snippet of conversation between the people running the library, and it was chilling to say the least. It was extremely difficult to know who to trust, and especially frustrating when you knew things were far more dangerous than our characters even knew.

The plot easily shifts from discovering the bright, enchanting world of The Library, to discovering that it’s actually not as magical as it once seemed. We see how twisted and wicked it actually is, and then we see that there are secrets and conspiracies around every corner. Each plot twist was carefully planned out, and never revealed before it was necessary.

The writing was easy to follow; I never got confused as to what was what even though the author was presenting us a brand new world rife with technology and alchemy. It was easy to turn the pages when you were desperate to keep discovering this diverse, captivating world.

The ending is breathtaking yet resolute at the same time. All the loose threads were carefully dealt with, giving us [most] of the answers we were looking for yet desperate to read the next book.

Overall, Ink and Bone is an INCREDIBLE book. It weaves mystery and magic, danger and conspiracies, plus includes a diverse cast, breathtaking plot twists, and a thrilling ending. I totally recommend this book! It’s imaginative and original, a book that stands above the rest.


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