Series: The Great Library #1
Also in this series:Paper and Fire
Also by this author: Paper and Fire
Genres: Fantasy, young adult
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Purchase at: Amazon ◊ Barnes & Noble
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…
Jess Brightwell’s childhood is described in such a way that I felt misery for the first few chapters of this book. I am not saying that I did not enjoy reading the backstory of this character but it did evoke many emotions and misery was the main one. His family just sucks. I would not have been truly drawn into the book initially if it had not been for his absolute love of physical books.
The premise of the story being that no one could own original works due to it being contraband. All original works were to only be held in the library and they would deliver the stories via blanks—fake books that were populated with whatever story you had permission to have but they could expire or be made blank again. You could buy the privilege to have a permanent “blank” collection or you could buy a true book from the black market but then you run the risk of the librarians showing up at your doorstep and delivering their justice…think “V” for Vendetta style librarians and I do not mean the good guy(s).
Given that the premise sounds really straightforward and simple what really makes me rate this book 4 stars? It was because of the characters, the world building and the raw emotion that I felt while reading the story. I really went back and forth on how many stars to give this. I was not overly enthused about the story because it did not grip me in such a way that I had, just had to keep reading. I could have sat it down and picked it up sometime later with no worries BUT when you are reading the story you love the characters. You feel like you are one with Jess, feel his pain and his struggles. The storytelling gave you such a complete picture that you would not be able to fault it. For those reasons and a few more I just had to go with the four stars.
If you have a passion for books then this story will resonant with you. It really stirs and inflames the passion you already have in your heart. You can truly lose yourself in the reverence for books that this story invokes. Oh yeah, there are also friendships, conflicts, rivalries, villains, a sprinkle of romance and a dash of alchemy. I recommend that you see what this book is about.