ARC Review – Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

Book Review - Ink and Bone

Ink and Bone Cover

Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1)

Author: Rachel Caine

Publication: July 7th, 2015

Publisher: NAL

Format: e-ARC, 352 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Dystopian, Steampunk

Read: June 2016

I received an e-ARC of this book from Penguin and Berkeley, NAL via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!


4.5 Stars

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…


Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
I didn’t know what I was expecting from this story, besides a book about books, but it’s so much more than that. It’s really intriguing and the author shows a lot of creativity when it comes to the world building and how the world is. It immediately pulled me in and kept my interest the entire way. This book was very fast paced and included alchemy, adventure, war and conspiracies. It’s super intricate and there are some amazing themes.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
I quite liked this author’s writing style. It’s simple yet intriguing. At the beginning, the world building was rocky but slowly became more inclusive and easier to understand. The writing style has intricate and beautiful moments yet is still easy to read. However, I think most of the book was used to set up the background information and set up for future books.

Characters – 3 out of 5 stars
This is where the book fell a little bit for me. I enjoyed the side characters a lot more than I did our main character Jess. He felt very flat and uninterested to me even though he was the one narrating the entire story. He’s very serious and intense. He’s grown up being taken advantage of so he’s used to being distrustful. I felt him to be sincere and dedicated but at the same  time, he has a tendency to be selfish. He’s kind of an inconsistent character, I never really felt a connection with him and he seemed unsure about everything that was happening around him. He couldn’t really decide what he wanted to do or think or want. It was really frustrating. However, I felt like the side characters had a lot more personality and were a lot easier to connect to. There’s quite a few of them but my particular favorites were Morgan, Thomas and Khalila. The great part about them beside their distinct personalities and attitudes is that they all come from different places around the world which adds diversity to the cast.


I’ve heard good things about this book, but I was really surprised with how hooked into it I became.

The plot was intriguing. We follow Jess, who comes from a family of book smugglers in a world where the Great Library of Alexandria exists and has control of all the knowledge and how it is spread throughout the world. He is forced by his father to take the test to become a worker of the Library but things get a lot more complicated than he bargained for. I was surprised with how quickly I became invested in this story and in the history of the world. Even though some things weren’t completely explained, it was still easy to absorb and interesting. It’s so surprising how the author shapes the world considering how there is only one shift: The Great Library of Alexandria wasn’t destroyed. It completely changes how progress would develop all of the world. I’m really interested in what themes that brings up and that this series is playing with. What is more important, life or knowledge. How far should we go to preserve books? And who should be in charge of something like that? All these things combined made the plot really interesting, not only the kinds of challenges the group of teenagers we meet have to go through to be accepted into service of the Library but also the obstacles that they didn’t suspect. There are also sections of correspondence, or writings or an anecdote from a third party that gives a different sort of depth to the book that I wasn’t expecting. Yet, it kind of all felt like a set up for the following books. Everything felt momentary, like just the beginning to what the journey was actually going to be about.

To be honest, I still don’t know if I like Jess or not. There were sometimes that I felt for him, for his upbringing and his situation but then there were other times where he was self-absorbed and I just wanted to scream at him to look at the big picture. I was rooting for him because I was rooting for the group of characters. They had to deal with really heavy things in this book and I just wanted everyone to be safe. So I obviously wanted him alive but he’s so indecisive at times and also kind of selfish which causes some sucky consequences toward the end of the book. I’m hoping that his character will develop and improve in later books.

However, the side characters were awesome. So much diversity, emotion and life packed into them that it’s surprising to me that the author can write such vastly meh characters like Jess and then so many supporting characters that kick serious ass. My favorite out of all of them is definitely Thomas, he’s what you would call a gentle giant. He’s so incredibly smart and so sweet but also naive. It’s unfortunate because it gets him into trouble and it’s just :(. Then there’s Galin, who comes off as a huge jerk and she kind of is. She’s really tough and wants to be in what’s considered the military in this world. It took me awhile to warm up to her and it also happened that way for the rest of the cast, but I feel like she’s going to be important part of the series. Then we have Morgan who I don’t want to talk about as much but she’s just very very unlucky for such a spitfire of a girl. Wolfe is also one of my favorite characters, he’s the teens’ mentor and he’s tough and rough around the edges but he’s been through so much and he’s still fighting and doing the best he can with what he’s been dealt. I love him!

Before I wrap this up I want to talk about something that bothered me: the romance. There are quite a few romances in this book, some established others developing. While one of them I appreciated and rooted for, there were others that I felt weren’t developed the best way possible. There were no love triangles thank God and no instalove which is also great but they did feel like they were rushed. It was almost like the characters interacted one or twice, three times tops (at least that the reader sees) and suddenly they have an intense connection. I appreciate that it wasn’t right off the bat but it would’ve been so much better for it to have developed happily and slowly. I hope that improves in the next books.

Overall, I really liked this book. The plot caught my attention quickly and the world building and setting were super interesting and intriguing. The writing style is simple yet easy to read and entertaining. The characters are a mix between amazingly developed or a bit flat and unemotional. The romance needs improvement but I’m looking forward to seeing how the series continues.

So that’s it for this review! Let me know if you’ve read this book and what you thought of it. I would love to know if I’ve piked your interesting in reading this book after my review. Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!

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13 thoughts on “ARC Review – Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

  1. I really want to read this! I’m even willing to overlook the crappy romance just for the sake of world-building. I mean, the library survived! It sounds like such an intriguing concept!
    When you called Thomas a gentle giant it reminded me of Tyson, Percy Jackson’s brother 😛
    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve had this book sitting on my shelf for a while, though I’ve never read it. I got it as a gift, and I’d never heard of it before, so I was weary of it. Honestly the cover kind of made it look middle grade…would you say it’s more YA or MG?
    Great review! I’m still really torn about whether I want to read it, but I’m glad you enjoyed it as much as you did!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve thought about reading this book a couple of times. I even picked up a library copy and started to read the first chapter. I never really got past a few pages. I wasn’t sure if I just wasn’t in the mood for it or not. I’ve read most of Caine’s Morganville series and enjoyed it. My one question for you is how was the pacing of the book? Was it slow?

    Liked by 1 person

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