Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1) – Rachel Caine

Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1) – Rachel CaineTitle: Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1) by Rachel Caine
Publishing Info: July 7, 2015 by Penguin
Genres: Historical Fiction, Steampunk, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: August 1, 2015

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 he 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.…


I was SO excited for INK AND BONE when I first heard about it. Libraries? The Library of Alexandria? Fantasy elements? Young adult? Yes, please! I was so thankful to receive a copy from Penguin to review and immediately started because I just couldn’t wait!

I have to admit that INK AND BONE started out very slowly for me and I ended up struggling with the pacing throughout. It honestly took me over two weeks to complete just over 100 pages of reading and that’s just too long for me. I’ve talked before about books with a slow start and unfortunately it just really hinders my reading experience. There was actually a lot of explanation in the first few chapters to establish the setting so I wouldn’t really say it was lack of world-building but it was a rather long set-up and I was hoping to jump into some more explanations of how the Library system worked and whether it was actually magical elements or scientific elements. I think giving away just a bit of information instead of things being more secretive could have helped me understand the ins and outs better at the beginning to really pull me into the book right away.

Actually, the very first chapter was not slow at all. It started out with a flurry of action, introducing main character Jess in his younger days. My issue was that there was so much going on — establishing a world, witnessing a chase scene, meeting characters — that it was kind of hard to follow without knowing exactly what this book was about and what was the mission of the main character. I wish the action had come just a couple chapters later in the book once I knew more of what was going on because I think I could have appreciated it more just a tad later. Especially once I started feeling like I was losing steam with the plot, a little chase scene pick-me-up could have really helped!  I felt like the action was abrupt in the very first chapter and then came a little too late later on.

I really did enjoy the characters. They kept me going and I really enjoyed getting to know Jess and his friends as well. It was great to see so many characters from all over the world come together and they created a nice, diverse cast! I also thought the character development was done really well and each person really did come to life. The personalities really pulled me in and it was one aspect of the book that I really connected to! I felt like I could really picture each character and their personalities definitely helped bring these characters to life!

I’m sure this more of a personal thing, but I just could not get a grip on what this world was. It was clarified early on that this was an alternate history which led to a sort of steampunk not-too-distant future but that was so hard for me to grasp for some reason. My brain kept making it historical fiction and I kept trying to tell myself that this wasn’t all taking place in the past. (I guess that’s kind of historical fiction and yet it’s really not.) It ended up feeling kind of like The Mummy to me in terms of time and place since there was a sort of steampunk thing going on (I think that’s really what threw me the most since I associate that with historical elements).

Even though I had a hard time placing it in the future in my head, I really did love how the world came alive in this feel and how I was able to really picture it as the characters discovered new places and the Library for the first time! The setting was actually really vivid for me and I really appreciated the detailed imagery! I just really had a hard time making it a solid and realistic place in my head.

The concept of INK AND BONE was just great but it was another book that I couldn’t quite connect with overall due to pacing issues and a bit of a lack of world-building in the beginning. Many people said how it had a Harry Potter or The Name of the Wind feel before I started and I really do see those feels represented in INK AND BONE but that was also a bad thing because those are just amazing novels/series and that’s a very hard thing to live up to!


Kept Me Hooked On: Alternate history. The alternate history idea was very cool! It’s so neat to wonder what would have happened and how the world would have turned out if X and X hadn’t gone down they way they did.
Left Me Wanting More: Alternate history? I would have loved to see this more historical and less future. I think it just really tripped me up to try to reconcile this alternate history and how everything progressed. I think it would have worked better for me personally if things had changed in the past but the book was still in the past. But again, that’s clearly a personal preference and doesn’t really have anything to do with the structure of the book. I kept wanting it to feel like The Mummy so I think that really tripped me up with the fact that it actually was not taking place in the past.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

This one didn’t work for me as well as I had hoped BUT the good news is, I appear to be the black sheep on this. I’ve heard from so many people that it does set up a lot in the beginning but really picked up for them! Totally worth the try!



(Click the cover to see my review!)


Hi, I'm Brittany!
Hi, I'm Brittany!

I'm an avid reader, candle-maker, and audiobook lover! Here you'll find book reviews, fun blog posts, and my other loves of photography & craft beer!

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13 thoughts on “Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1) – Rachel Caine

  1. Jennifer

    This book sounds epic. I am happy to see it has already been published, and I can start reading it right away!

    I just found your website and I could spend days reading past post and adding on to my TBR pile/list.

    Thank you; one can never have too many books to look forward to!

  2. Olivia Roach

    Hm, I am not sure what I would make of it being so slow paced :/ I am someone who needs things to be even or pretty fast to keep me entertained. I was looking forward to the library aspect of this one so much as I am sure many other booklovers are as well. The characters sound lovely but I am not sure yet…

    1. Brittany Post author

      It’s hard to say! Some people really loved this book… I couldn’t get into it. Sounds like it’s worth a shot but it wasn’t one that I personally connected with.

  3. Danielle @ Love at First Page

    Great review, lady! I’ve heard great things about this book and can’t wait to read it for myself. I have a hard time if books start slow, so I’ll keep in mind that it gets better as it goes on. The alternate universe setting does sound amazing!

  4. Emma @ Miss Print

    Thanks for this review! As a librarian I’m always excited about a book with a library setting but I also like to know what issues other people had with a title so I can properly manage expectations. Now I feel much more prepared!

  5. Kate @ Mom's Radius

    I feel like series sometimes take more time to set things up in the beginning of book 1. Why is that? It can be worth it if you’re going to read the full series, but it can also make the reader put a book aside if it doesn’t get going soon enough. I’m bummed you didn’t get into this one.

  6. Rhianna

    As someone who often finds herself being the review black sheep with a much loved book I appreciate this review so much! I think it would work for me but I totally get why it didn’t for you. Great review!

    1. Brittany Post author

      It’s so hard to say! Some people said it started out slow and then really picked up for them and others LOVED it from start to finish. I have a thing where if a book starts out slowly, I start to grow weary and then I have a really hard time with the rest of the book. It’s definitely a personal thing — even when it picks up later, I still can’t forget that I was upset with a slow start haha!

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