If you’re a book lover (like, an over-the-top, page sniffer), then you’ll love the premise of this book. What if the Library of Alexandra never burned down? What if it became the equivalent of an overreaching government?
In this alternate universe, The Great Library controls knowledge. Owning paper copies of books is illegal, and the printing press doesn’t exist. The library uses alchemy to deliver “approved books” to tablets (for lack of a better description) and it knows who reads what.
Jess is a bookrunner, meaning he smuggles forbidden books. It’s the family business. His family does it for profit, but Jess loves books. He prefers books to his own personal safety. His father decides to use this to his advantage to send him to school at the Library. There, students learn to control their specific skills.
Jess meets a wide array of characters, My favorites are Khalila and Thomas. Khalila is ridiculously smart. She’s middle eastern (she wears a hijab!) and still written as a kind human being, something that is sadly lacking in fiction. Thomas is an oversized teddy bear, and the unintentional trouble starter.
Jess and Thomas become best friends, which leads to trouble when the Library discovers that Thomas invented something they don’t want to exist. After that, things get…intense.
Do I have issues with this book? Absolutely. There’s a distractingly, unnecessary love thing going on between Jess and an incredibly powerful girl named Morgan. He makes some really stupid decisions because of it. Also, the description of how the magic/pseudo-science works was a little vague. I would have liked some clarification on that.
That aside, this is a very ambitious book, and an enjoyable one.
Have you read it? What did you think?