By: Rachel Caine
Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Read All About It!! WOW, loved this book. Set in the year 2025 but reads like it was set in the times of the great philosophers and authors. The power of books (to include knowledge) leads the plot to a scary scenario of hoarding all the original works and personal diaries for the good of mankind. Rrriigghhtt!
To work for the Library was an esteemed and altruistic goal. To supposedly protect every written word so that the public could have access as requested or needed seemed to be a lofty calling. But as most of us know, “hoarding” is not always a good thing and not every law or rule is for everyone’s benefit. So Jess finds out.
In this period, even owning a real book is illegal. The library has become a country into itself and if you pass the examinations and are offered a position in the organization you must give up all your loyalties to your own country.
This “hoarding”, for lack of a better word, creates criminals of many countries’ citizens. There are “runners” who are essentially black market thieves that steal and sell original works of prose. There are “burners” who are dissidents that will destroy literary works just to prove a point to the Library authorities, and there are Ink lickers who are so obsessed with original works and the feel of actual paper and ink they will consume the books or try to hide them for themselves. (OK, little over the top for me but does work in this alternative world!)
This book is quite unique in it’s story and setting. You feel like you are living in ancient times but the plot is easily felt as a futuristic science fiction setting. I loved the main theme of a “government” like organization that wants to control all knowledge and the naive new recruits discovering that all is not as they imagined in their new “calling”. It includes a little something from most of my favorite books. There is danger, violence, friendship, twists and a smattering of romance included along with the intriguing plot. The paranormal aspect comes in the hierarchy of the Library’s Obscurists and their use of alchemy so if you are thinking were’s, witches and vamps this is not that kind of read. But it is fabulously penned and well worth the journey. I am sure some might say it is a little incongruous but look past some of the confusion of the setting and open your mind to something that might (someday!) resemble a little of our own society. (You just have to read between the lines!).
I rarely give 5 stars but …..