Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Ink and Bone


Book Title: Ink and Bone
Author: Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library #1
Date Started: April 20th 2016
Date Completed: April 25th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Mystery, Romance
Quality Rating: Four Stars
Enjoyment Rating: Four Star
Final Rating: Four stars

◆ Thank you NetGalley for this eBook copy for review ◆

Honestly, I underestimated Ink and Bone when I started reading. The first half wasn't really encouraging me to think differently because of it's slow pace, but suddenly halfway through things really picked up and it became a really entertaining and quick read. By big downside to the book as a whole was that it felt a lot like a prologue to the sequel.

The world building was both a strength of this book, but also a weakness for me if I thought about it too much. Obviously, the way to solve this was to not think about it too much, and once I accepted that I was able to dive into the story a lot better. Caine's captured a nice blend of mythology and traditional adventure-mystery worlds, but I don't feel like the futuristic/alternate-history genre really came into it. When I started reading I imagined a 19th Century setting, only to find out it's more of a dystopian civilisation. For me that element didn't fit very well, and also didn't need to be there: because it's an alternate history where the Library of Alexandria never gets burnt down, I don't think we needed to know exactly when it was set - or if she was trying to show how this regressed our society I didn't feel like she looked at it enough. Overall, I wasn't sure what Caine was trying to do, but like I said: just don't think about it too much. But even with some of the inconsistencies at the back of my head, I honestly did find Ink and Bone enjoyable to read. I can't even pinpoint what made it so, but I'm really eager to get onto the next one.

Ink and Bone takes its time to establish what it's doing, but it definitely makes up for it in the end. I was getting dubious at the competition/school phase when I could predict exactly who was going to get through to being a Librarian (shocker: I was right), but then Caine twists things around and we're on a different path. This happens a couple of times, so if you aren't sure about this book to start with, keep going because it gets interesting pretty quickly.
A big part of what makes Ink and Bone enjoyable are the relationships, but I really liked how they weren't the main aspect of the story. The cute little pairings and friendships are really sweet and enjoyable to read about, but because they're placed in the background it lets them stay sweet as opposed to sickly. Caine could've quite easily dominated the text with romance or family relationships, but she let the story tell itself as a priority, and let us enjoy all the characters' interactions on the side.
I didn't feel like there was really a big climax past the cliffhanger, but I think the story (past the halfway mark) is consistent enough in its tension and excitement that it doesn't really matter. Climaxes tend to resolve problems set up in the narrative, and there aren't really any issues Caine can solve in this first book. Instead she communicates the transition into another part of the characters' story and leaves us wanting more.

I really liked the diversity of characters in this book, and I'm kind of conflicted because I really liked how they were just naturally diverse without it having to be their token trait in their personalities, but at the same time I really wish they could've been more at the forefront of the story. Our protagonists are very much the norm, with the range of diverse characters in secondary roles. I'm not complaining too much since the range of nationalities, sexualities, personalities and genders were really nice to see, I'm just... considering the unused potential they had.
Jess was a good protagonist, but as usual not extraordinary. I think his main strength was being able to see things from different perspectives and really adapt: he's not the same person at the start that you find after he's gotten to know what the Library is capable of. To be brutally honest, I'm not sure if this was exactly planned character development, or more what Caine twisting her protagonist to get everyone to the end of the book, but either way it still worked in terms of the story and didn't pull me out of narrative with its convenience.
I also really liked Morgan. Her introduction into the story is a little unconventional and I was confused at her exact involvement to start with, but she soon proves herself. Essentially how Caine sets things out at the start of this book don't make a whole lot of sense when you're reading it, but by the second half things slowly start to click into place. From a reader's perspective I'm not sure how well it was done since I did doubt lots of things to start with, but I can understand why Caine hides details and secrets from the reader.

Like I've mentioned, this book is very slow to start with - not necessarily boring since you've got some nice characters and an interesting world, but it did make me wonder where the story was going. Of course, once Caine lights the fuse it gets serious very, very fast. I flew through the second half in the way that actually, I didn't really want to put the book down.

I enjoyed Ink and Bone a lot more than I was expecting to, and I'm actually really eager to get onto the next book when it comes out later this year. If you like fantasy, a little bit of adventure and mystery along with some cute characters and books (oh, the books) then it's definitely worth putting it on your shelf.

Image Source - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20643052-ink-and-bone

No comments:

Post a Comment