You have ink in your blood, boy, and no help for it. Books will never be just a business to you.
Few people, if any, have ever set eyes on a book in Jess Brightwell’s London. And yet, no one is illiterate and writing is considered sacred across the world.
Instead of books, everyone has blanks (think: ereader but run by alchemy and magic) where they can rent as many books as they want, respond to messages and conduct their lessons on.
But no one has a book – as in an actual printed book – because having one is punishable by death.
Jess Brightwell and his family are book-smugglers. They find printed copies of books and sell them to the highest bidder. And if they get caught – they will hang.
Jess father decides he wants an inside man. Someone who could have access to the handwritten texts of the greats and who could influence the right people to turn a blind eye.
And so, Jess is going to apply for one of the most dangerous, grueling and brutal jobs in the world. He’s going to become a Librarian.
The first purpose of a librarian is to preserve and defend our books. Sometimes, that means dying for them – or making someone else die for them.
The Great Library of Alexandria has spread its tendrils in every major country. It promotes literacy while keeping the population in check.
The Great Library may have once been a boon, but what is it today? What does it give us? It suppresses! It stifles!
Jess and 30 other students from across the world compete for six librarian spots. Quickly, they realize that this will be no picnic.
Anyone can be sent home at any time. And Jess is learning that the world isn’t quite as stable as the Great Library wants them to think.
Jess is fairly confident he can make it…but the longer he stays, the more he realizes that he has no idea of how (or even if) he can ever get out.
What a brilliant start to a series!
It’s so rare to get a YA series with a male lead – this entire book was a breath of fresh air. Jess was down-to-earth, entertaining and absolutely endearing. Watching his struggle as he transitions from a scared kid to a bold survivor definitely kept me hooked.
I’m also so impressed by Caine’s world-building. She took such a fundamental concept (the printed word) and built a society around its absence.
I was thoroughly fascinated by how she just took this idea and ran with it (though, as a huge library lover, I did have a really difficult time associating anything negative with libraries).
I cannot wait to read what she writes next!
With thanks to Berkley Publishing for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.