I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.
Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.
Now I work in a library, so I am predisposed to love novels which feature libraries prominently, as this one does. The Library of Alexandria to be exact, which has survived into the 21st century. And I also love dystopian books like 1984, Brave New World, and We, so when The Library also turned out to have a dark, controlling side, I was right there digging it. And of course, there were conspiracy theories galore, giving the whole thing a thriller vibe.
Jess Brightwell, whose family is involved in the book black market, is accepted by The Library as a competitor for a potential Librarian position. Do they know his background? Does he have a chance to go straight? Does he want to? Jess meets his classmates and they start the grueling competitive process together, students falling by the wayside as they go. The relationships which develop are intense and sometimes dark. I loved the intensity, the frenemies, the intertwining of lives, and the sometimes gladiatorial nature of the competition. Who is on which side? The Library, the black market book sellers, or the Book Burners?
This book intertwined so many threads that I find alluring, it couldn’t help but be a high scoring read for me. It may be classified as Young Adult, but that didn’t stop this older adult from falling for it.