Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine is my new favourite thing

Title: Ink and Bone
Series: The Great Library #1
Author: Rachel Caine
Publication: July 7th 2015, Allison & Busby
Pages: 410 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you so much to Allison & Busby for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 5/5 Cupcakes!

Knowledge is power. Power corrupts. In a world where the ancient Great Library of Alexandria was never destroyed, knowledge now rules the world: freely available, but strictly controlled. Owning private books is a crime.Jess Brightwell is the son of a black market book smuggler, sent to the Library to compete for a position as a scholar . . . but even as he forms friendships and finds his true gifts, he begins to unearth the dark secrets of the greatest, most revered institution in the world.Those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn. . . .
Ink and Bone is a richly imagined novel that takes place in a world where the Great Library of Alexandria never perished. A world where nobody can own an original book and knowledge is strictly controlled and monitored; if a book is found in your house, you risk death. Featuring a dangerous, compelling world complete with characters who pursue knowledge and are comprised of ink and words, a spellbinding story line, blood-tinted plot twists and's no wonder this book - it's world, it's characters, it's entire composition - sneaked into my heart. Underneath the fantastic dialogue, the terrifying world Caine so masterfully crafted and the cast of characters who I fell in love with, it reveals itself to be an ode to books, libraries and literature. Depicting the splendour of libraries, literature and knowledge, Ink and Bone is a must-read for anyone who has been captivated by the written word. I was utterly spellbound.

There's so much I love about this book that I'm not entirely sure where to start. Perhaps I'll start with the characters, as I think they are what made me fall so completely in love with this book. In Ink and Bone, the main character is Jess Brightwell and guys, I am in love with him; he's definitely at the top of my book boyfriends list! I've read Ink and Bone twice now and I found more things to love about him with each chapter I reread. He's not a perfect person and he doesn't pretend to be. He's varying shades of morally grey but he has a heart of gold and I loved him. He's gloriously sarcastic, in love with books and he's the perfect balance of a little bit of toughness and more than a little bit of sensitivity, care and kindness. I loved how I, as the reader, got to see the sensitive, caring side of Jess from the first few pages, when he didn't reveal that side of himself to many people very often. Reading a book is quite an intimate thing, isn't it? It's seeing to the very depths of a character's soul; that's how I felt about Jess. I felt like he allowed me to see the darkness and the lightness that swirled together in his soul, painting him the beautiful hue of grey that he is. I loved how there were startling moments that showed me he would fight and he would be cunning in order to protect himself and those he loves; I loved how there were small things he said and things he did to show how much he cares - things I never noticed until rereading the book. I'm just incredibly in love with Jess Brightwell. He's clever, he's kind, he's cunning, he's tough and strong and so incredibly complex.
I absolutely love him. 

You want to know which other character stole my heart? Thomas Schreiber. Extremely tall and utterly enormous with Superman's strength; bones composed of kindness and sinew laced with gentleness; extraordinary intelligence and the ability to make anyone smile. I absolutely adored Thomas. He was the purest, kindest, gentlest, most beautiful character. He did so many wonderful things for his friends, he invented so many incredible objects and he did all he could to make sure he was improving people's lives. I may be in love with him too. 

Image result for proud crying gif

I adored the other characters, too. They all had incredibly diverse, colourful, vivid personalities. Initially, there was an edge of mistrust and lingering ferocity clinging to each of them (except Thomas because he's a pure, precious angel) and I loved that. I loved how they could turn from being funny, kind and amusing to secretive and simmering with a myriad of feelings as sharp as a double-edged sword in the next second. And then after awhile, it wasn't like that. I adored the evolving dynamics between the group. How they started out weary and mistrusting of one another, viewing the other as only a competitor; or if they got close to another, as someone to lose. I absolutely loved watching their weary suspicion of one another morph into friendship, care, loyalty and respect. The dialogue between the characters, the initial mild hostility (looking at you, Dario), the evolution of feelings and the spectacularly executed dynamics made the cast of characters feel like flesh and bone and not just ink on paper. 

I adored Dario with his egotism, his arrogance and his charm. I loved Khalila with her incredible intelligence and her devotion to knowledge. I loved Glain with her bravery and candor. I loved Wolfe and Santi and the complexities of their characters. The only character I didn't feel vastly connected to was Morgan. Perhaps because she appeared later on in the book so I didn't have as much time to form a bond with her. I'm hoping to get to know Morgan in the next book, though as I don't feel like she revealed much of who she was in this book!

Another thing I loved about Ink and Bone was the world-building. It's beautiful, original and heart-stopping in its terror. I love how, at face value, the library is presented as a prestigious, perfect protector of knowledge and books; but page by page, Caine crumbles the gleaming facade of the library. It was horrifying and brilliant the way Caine sets up this beautiful image of the library, then with fierce vigour she tears down the reader's perception of it and reveals the brutality, the blood and the injustice writhing under the surface. The library was a terrifying place rife with high stakes, tension, cut-throat officials who will do anything to control the masses and deathly situations. I got chills on several occasions as the dark, blood-tinted underbelly of the library was brought to light. I guess I should've have been as surprised as I was by the system's violence due to all those vicious automatons that lounge outside the libraries' doors and who will not hesitate to kill. Seriously, they terrified me. 

So yes, I adored the world-building. The intricacy of it was further demonstrated by Caine's inclusion of politics and the murderous tension between the populace and the Burners, with their "radical" ideals. It was terrifying, thrilling and horrifying when Caine introduced the Burners - rebels who oppose the library's view of a book being worth more than a life. The tensions between them and the rest of the population provided for an intense read and enriched the world-building.  

Another reason why I loved the world-building was because of all the glorious descriptions of libraries and books interspersed throughout the pages. I feel like Ink and Bone is an implicit love letter to books, libraries and knowledge. I fell in love with the sprinkling of quotes dispersed throughout the book that lyrically expressed the wonder of literature, the scent of books, the comforting feel of books in hand...there were stunning quotes that were an ode to books. I think if you're a book lover, you'll feel a kind of kinship with this book. You'll connect with the characters who are comprised of ink and paper, passion and heart.

The writing is fantastic. I adored the lyrical, melodic rhythm of the writing. The words flowed beautifully into one another to form a dazzling combination of silken words. The pacing was executed superbly as well. I absolutely love Rachel's writing and I'm so excited to read more of her works. I love the way she phrased things and the way she formatted her sentences and paragraphs to emphasise shocking, beautiful and heartbreaking moments. I just really love this book. 

All my favourite quotes!
Another way in which Rachel Caine displayed her phenomenal writing abilities was through the dialogue between the characters. The humorous conversations radiate throughout the novel and add a fun, lighthearted element to add chinks of light to the bloodshed and tension that acts as the landscape of Ink and Bone. The dialogue was so natural, the banter was brilliant and the sarcasm was devastatingly artful.

I adored the romance between Jess and Morgan, as well. Jess had these subtle ways of showing Morgan how he cared for her and loved her; their teasing made me smile and clutch the book to my chest more than once; and I loved how they both originated from complicated backgrounds and felt as if the other one was the only one who understood them. To put it simply: I ship them. 

Ink and Bone was a riveting read that snatched my breath away and stole my heart in a single swipe. I fell completely in love with the characters, I was swept away by Rachel Caine's harmonious writing; I had my heart broken and stitched back haphazardly together again. I can see this becoming one of my all-time favourite series. It's an action-packed steampunk adventure filled with dangerous, sass and books!

 Read it, it's incredible.

I give it: 5/5 cupcakes!