Jess raised his head and watched the shelves of the first level smoke, warp, spark, and burn. Book after book.
Level after level.
Blurb (Goodreads)- Ink and Bone introduced a world where knowledge is power, and power corrupts absolutely. Now, the story of those who dare to defy the Great Library—and rewrite history—continues….
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….
Thoughts- Not too long ago, I read the first book in this series and absolutely loved it, and while I still adore this series, the second installment, Paper and Fire, suffers slightly from second book syndrome.
We quickly catch up with our cast of postulants in this book, all of them off doing their new assignments. Now, instead of learning what to do in the boarding style school from last book, they’re off on a mission, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The plot never truly loses steam because there is always plenty of action going on, and yet it does drag ever so slightly around the 170/200 page mark.
The thing that shines the most in this series as a whole is the absolutely beautiful and intricate world that Caine created. Caine’s strengths really do lie in world building and descriptions, because you become immersed in the dangerous world of books so easily. I also enjoyed her writing style so much again, it’s poetic and refreshing to read.
The main area that this book ends up suffering is the characters and the romance. Caine’s characters tend to be cardboard cutouts of your stereotypical YA characters. You’ve got your protagonist who is always willing to risk their life for the cause or the one that they love (although they never actually end up dying, most of the time), the smart girl who solves all the riddle aspects of the main conflict, the cocky/arrogant characters, and the character who defies his appearance.
Now, not to say I don’t like the characters, in fact I like them quite a lot, I just wish there was some variety. I was especially a fan of Glain and Khalila this time around, they were both such strong characters and yet uniquely different from the rest of the crew. Then we have Jess, the protagonist of the story. Now, once again I like Jess perfectly fine (he’s really not unlikable), but he’s honestly forgettable. He’s so bland and protagonist-y (yes, I know that’s a weird complaint) and it just doesn’t add up to a memorable main character.
The main romance between Jess and Morgan is also awkward, to say the least. It feels so forced and artificial, and is constantly shoved down your throat so much that I simply grew to not care about them. I honestly care way more about Santi and Wolfe or Dario and Khalila.
Overall, this was still a fun and quick read and another solid installment in this newer series, if you enjoyed the first book do go ahead and give this one a go (especially because of the world, which is gorgeous). I’m excited for the concluding novel to see if it can get back up to the level of the first one!