Hardcover, 368 pages
Published July 7th 2015 by NAL
My Rating: ❀❀❀❀❀
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.…
Jess is a character who is far too jaded for his years, but given his childhood and background, that cynicism makes perfect sense and defines and shapes his character. I really liked Jess. He's a good person, and he sees things as they are without the polish society spins or the sugarcoat of blind faith. Entering the Library isn't something he wanted, but once there, he's compelled to do well. And he's met with amazing trials--both intellectual trials and harsh ones, and some that are just damn horrifying.
This novel is action packed, and will grip you beginning to end. Not a single page was boring. I was sucked in from beginning, each word drawing me more and more into the world and lives of the characters that Ms. Caine depicts with such ease. There are many horrifying and sad points in the novel, and at times I was moved to tears by the events that took place. But I loved seeing the friendships grow between characters that were from different backgrounds, and competitors for positions in the Library. Seeing those bonds develop gave me a lot of hope for Jess and whatever the future holds in store for him. Because it's sure to be ugly.
The world building in this novel blew me away. I was sucked right into the politics of the Library and knew immediately (because Jess seemed to understand it intrinsically) that it was corrupt. And the more you learn about this world and the Library, the more you see a society that simply must fall. Knowledge is power, but power unchecked corrupts and seeks to control. So I'm dying to find out what happens to the characters in this book because it looks for now like the Library has won. Jess has a risky placement, Wolfe is on the edge of a cliff, and the Library has Morgan, though that might not be as wonderful for them as they think it is. I sense rebellion in the making, and that makes me cheer but also makes me afraid for the characters I've grown to love. I don't want to lose anymore of them.
This is everything a novel should be, compelling, fantastic, rich with human life and problems and emotions. I was completely devastated by how the story unfolded, and this is one book I won't be forgetting any time soon, and one I'd read again and again.