But what it really presents is the stagnation of technology. And Jess is a book smuggler.
Original works are worth their weight in gold and Jess' family has been running books to every sort, but mostly those who will pay the hefty fee. However, soon Jess begins to learn the truth of the Library he's always believed in as he witnesses an automaton in the form of a lion kill with abandon.
Jess also learns about the lengths the Library will go to stop those such as himself who pose a threat to their power. And that doesn't stop Jess' family from enrolling him in the Library's elite and pricey program that would allow him to enter into employment with the Library and become their spy from the inside.
Part Harry Potter, part Hunger Games, Ink and Bone introduces us to the Great Library series and the enrollment class for entry into the Library, but in an alternate world ruled for centuries by the Library. Throughout the book, we follow Jess in a third-person limited perspective as he makes his way through the elimination process of postulants attempting to become either Scholars or Guarda (Library military) of the Library.
If you've read my reviews before, you know I'm a sucker for these kinds of books. Throw a protagonist in a difficult, nigh on impossible school setting and you already have me halfway.
What's great about this entering class is that because of the Library's almost total control, the class students are from all over the world, as diverse as can be, whether from the Middle East, German, or the States. They have an instructor from Hell who has to winnow the class from dozens to 6 ... if he even accepts that many. And the class falls fast.
There are only a couple moments I found my disbelief difficult to suspend, because once you find out the volumes are available to anyone on what is termed a "blank," which is essentially an eReader, all we're really fighting about are original volumes of text. They're cool and all, but if you have the knowledge that's the important thing. And apparently they have some type of decent technology so it's difficult to see how much the Library has really held society back.
I think the story loses the point a little bit, but focuses back up to show the Library is also preventing knowledge from spreading to the point of murder. And they will do anything to stop threats to their power.
I don't read a lot of YA, but I found Ink and Bone to be hugely entertaining. From the very first page, I was enthralled, I couldn't put it down. Yes, I had some moments I questioned, but for pure entertainment value, I was behind this book 100%.
I can't recommend Ink and Bone enough. It's a unique world that draws from our own, only if the Library had risen to power and continued to control the world to this day. I had a blast in it and I can't believe I have to wait a whole year for book 2.
4 out of 5 Stars (highly recommended)