Review: Paper and Fire (The Great Library #2) – Rachel Caine

paper and fireIn Ink and Bone, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine introduced a world where knowledge is power, and power corrupts absolutely. Now, she continues the story of those who dare to defy the Great Library—and rewrite history…

With an iron fist, The Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower and doomed to a life apart.

Embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, or the Library willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control…

Rating: 3.5/5

Ink and Bone was one of my favourite reads of last year, and I’m happy to report that overall, Paper and Fire is a worthy sequel. I found it was easy to slip back into the world of Jess and co in their growing rebellion against the library – plot points and characters came swiftly back to mind! Furthermore, as with the first book, there is plenty of action, albeit with a few lulls in between.

This book is pretty much more of the same – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, since the same was so good in the first place. And, as I mentioned, the author is excellent at pacing, and this series in particular has plenty going on to keep the reader entertained. It was interesting getting to find out more about the world that Jess lives in, and specifically, about the Library and its insidious methods of control.

“One thing you learn early growing up a girl – people always talk, whatever you do.”

Onto my complaints though. I don’t particularly like the character of Morgan, for some reason. It feels like she’s really there just to fill the role of love interest. I suppose my criticism is more for the relationship between Jess and Morgan, which is utterly devoid of chemistry. I’m far more interested in Santi and Wolfe as a well-established ship, to be honest. Would love to know more about their backstory!

“You’ve never heard of any hidden floors above it?”
“No,” she said. “Never. Not even a rumour.”
“Maybe they don’t actually exist.”
“Then we’ll have a nice garden stroll before we’re taken out to be killed,” Santi said. “I don’t see any drawbacks.”

For the most part though, the secondary characters are well drawn – Khalila is a particular favourite of mine. Smart, Muslim, brave, caring – she’s awesome. Jess as our main character is also fairly admirable – while he makes impulsive decisions, he also tries really hard to remain on the side of right, which is complicated considering his upbringing, and current situation. He’s also at least aware of his flaws, and comes across as realistically human, instead of super-perfect hero.

The moments of friendship and support are what really make this book worthwhile, at least for me, along with the interesting concept and fast-moving plot. Jess and company take ‘leave no (wo)man behind’ very seriously. All in all, if you enjoyed the first book, then you’re all set for this instalment.

ARC received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from uncorrected proof and may differ from final publication.


14 thoughts on “Review: Paper and Fire (The Great Library #2) – Rachel Caine

  1. I’m very excited to read this. I loved Ink and Bone and it was one of my favorite books last year. I liked it so much that I already expect I probably won’t like the sequel as much, lol (but only because it’ll be so rare to strike gold twice, but it can happen!) Glad to hear it’s a worthy follow up though, I can’t wait!


  2. I haven’t read Ink and Bone yet – which is surprising because I’m a fan of reading about mythical libraries and such. Sorry the installment was a little underwhelming, though.


  3. Huh. You definitely sound less enthusiastic about this one than you did about the first volume… But I think I understand – a couple that lacks chemistry can introduce a terribly false note and compromise the whole mix. Great review.


  4. Jess and Morgan was literally my bane in the last book, so I am sorry to hear that their relationship do not improve with the second book. I have actually forgotten quite a bit of the first book, so I am struggling a little getting into this sequel. Where are you, my much needed recap of Ink and Bone XD!


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