Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

five dragons

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Ink and Bone accomplished everything it was meant to and for that, it gets five dragons.

I’ve been looking forward to Ink and Bone for years, but I kept putting it off in favor of other books. Plus once a new book has been out for a few years the need to rush to read it becomes a little less. The storyline kept pulling me back to it though so finally I have read it!

I underlined in this book. I don’t often do that with fiction for some reason, but this one required it.

“you don’t just have ink in your blood. It’s in your bones. Your skeleton’s black with it.”

It falls under the category of books for book lovers, but it’s also more than that. It made me look at how important I think books are and how I sometimes sacrifice other things in my life for the love of the written word.

Knowledge is all. The library’s motto, and this was what it meant in the real world. It meant that nothing—nothing—was more valuable. Not even lives.” Italics original.

Obviously, I don’t kill people over books, but people have died because of and for them throughout history.  Yet there is a huge difference between a person being willing to sacrifice themselves for something and them being sacrificed for it by someone else’s wishes. The choice matters.

I know this book wasn’t flawless, but I didn’t notice any major flaws because I was so busy being drawn into the story. I liked Jess as a mix of cocky and sweet. He’s not the type of character to feed people to the wolves even when they trample him, but he’s also not a doormat. He is a uniquely hard to write character because he straddles that balance of kindness and strength.

The characters and their relationships were well-developed and I didn’t feel that anyone fit too neatly into any trope. The rivalry with Dario was nicely paralleled by the friendship with Thomas and Khalila and Dario isn’t painted as some devil for the ease of the story. Even villains are fully dimensional.  

The world-building was simply intricate by the world being generally the same but with a few additions and subtractions. We still have Greek fire, but not a printing press. There are important reasons for this. Read the book to find out what importance they hold. Having the Library of Alexandria survive to present times is a fantastic idea and then having that Library be an all-powerful kind of scary entity is an even better one. Throw in lovable characters and an intricate yet understated storyline and you certainly have my, and most other booklover’s, attention.

The one “flaw” I noticed was that I couldn’t easily pinpoint the pacing/structure. It was hard to tell if this was going to be a single book or a trilogy or longer. Yes, I could have figured this out with a quick Goodreads search (there will be a fifth book next year), but I was curious to see if it would be made clear through the writing and it mostly wasn’t. Some development was long, but not as long as I would have assumed if this was a stand-alone if that makes sense. A small thing, but worth pointing out.

On that point, less than halfway through the book took a sharp turn that I hadn’t expected but that certainly added to the action and possibilities. Generally, even first books in a long series have some sort of climax, but in this case, half the book was a climax and the beginning didn’t feel like your average warm-up either.

I would absolutely recommend this book to readers everywhere. It has something for just about everyone. And extra kudos for being able to appeal equally to masculine and feminine people of all ages. Not many YA books can say that. I look very forward to reading the next one.

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