Leveling Up the Idea that Knowledge is Power


Jess Brightwell lives in a world where knowledge is the most dangerous and powerful force. His family's business is book smuggling. Jess spent his childhood running across London delivering books to the rich. Although he has no love for the business, Jess has found a profound love with books themselves and learning. When he gets accepted to be a postulate for the Great Library, Jess is elated to finally be in his place. The Great Library shines like a beacon of hope, encompassing all the knowledge in the world for humans to freely study and learn from.

When he gets accepted to be a postulate for the Great Library, Jess is elated to finally be in his place. However, he soon learns that the Great Library isn’t at all what it seems to be. There are ground-shattering secrets. Shocking revelations and violent battles cause Jess to realize the Great Library isn’t the fantasy he grew up believing. When his friend and fellow Postulate Thomas invents a device similar to the printing press, his plans are discovered, and he is taken away for questioning. Ultimately, the Library kills Thomas.  To have his kind of thinking - that anyone can share and spread their own ideas - would undermine the Library’s careful control. This is Jess' breaking point, as he now realizes just how many talented inventors and thinkers will be silenced if the Library continues its tight rule.

BTSYA / Teen Reader (13):
I enjoyed this story immensely. The best thing about it is the uniqueness of the plot. This was the first time I read a book where knowledge is more valued than human life. The author incorporated ideas I’ve never heard of before, such as a Codex, daughter Libraries, and Obscurists. Readers have access to manuscripts to help explain the history of the Great Library, as well as messages between characters. These elements add dimension, with a story that has a daring and vivid tale. It was eye-opening to see a different version of the world we live in and how drastically different other peoples’ morals would be compared to ours.

Jess is a dynamic, interesting character. He comes from a questionable background and has so many sides to him. The hint of romance is a nice contrast to all the violence, It didn’t overpower the main plot of the book though, which I found extremely refreshing. The author also included manuscripts outside of the main story to help explain the history of the Great Library as well as messages between characters in the novel.

This book and the rest of the series would be a great gift for avid readers as it is one of those novels you just have to read over and over again. For readers looking for a thrilling adventure in an alternate world, Ink and Bone is the book for you.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Readers who love alternate worlds (where the past and future collide) will not only love the adventure, but also the story's main character, Jess Brightwell.

Content Awareness Factors:

Our teen reader notes that there is a significant amount of violence, including "gruesome deaths and gory battles."

Type of Book:
This is a science fiction story that falls within the steampunk genre.
Educational Themes:

Although the book looks to the past and the Great Library of Alexandria, it also looks to the future - how technology is used to store, save share information. Great opportunities for discussion about the pros and cons of how information is controlled.

This is a book where the adage "knowledge is power" is taken to the Nth degree. Another great topic. Who decides, what are the checks and balances ... plenty to talk about.

The author has also created an excellent discussion guide.

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
14 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
15 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer age: 13
Purchase Recommendation:
Buy. Our teen reader says it is a book / series you'll read over and over.

Title Ink and Bone

The Great Library, Book 1

Author Rachel Caine
Publisher Berkley © 2016 (Reprint Edition)
ISBN 9780451473134
Material Paperback
Cost $9.15
Genres Historical Fiction, Science Fiction, Romance
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