Book Review : The Invisible Library

Book Review : The Invisible LibraryThe Invisible Library (The Invisible Library, #1) by Genevieve Cogman
Published by Roc on June 14th 2016
Pages: 330
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four-half-stars

Collecting books can be a dangerous prospect in this fun, time-traveling, fantasy adventure from a spectacular debut author. One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction...   Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it's already been stolen.   London's underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself.   Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself...
FEATURING BONUS MATERIAL: including an interview with the author, a legend from the Library, and more!

Oh my gosh! I did not expect to love this book as much as I did! In fact, I read the whole thing in one day, without being able to put it down! The idea of this book just blew me away and I truly wish I had thought of it! Like the title suggests, in this book, an invisible library exists outside of space and time. It connects to all of the worlds and their alternates and its Librarians travel to these worlds as spies and thieves—for a lack of better terms—to collect copies of unique books, which don’t exist in other worlds, to archive and preserve them in the secret Library. I am always a bit skeptical about anything involving alternate realities, as I am not a big fan of time paradoxes and their ramifications—been there and played that video game, thank you very much—but this book proves that alternate realities can actually be quite fun! And to top it off, this captivating idea is carried out in a witty, well-thought out way, with a capable and level-headed heroine, whom I instantly liked, at the forefront of this well-developed world—er, rather—worlds.
 
The novel follows Librarian Irene on the most dangerous mission of her career yet. As she puts it,
“She’d had dozens of missions where she’d simply wandered in, quietly bought a copy of the book in question, and left without anyone so much as noticing her. And at least ten assignments where there had been some minor illegality involved, but none had featured chases through the streets, dangerously flamboyant personalities, or cyborg alligators.”
 
On her latest mission, Irene is given a sinister, skin-snatching villain to fight against, a dragon as a love interest, as well as the aid of a private detective with a saber hidden in his walking stick, and the use of the library’s Language, an ever-evolving language that only Librarians can read and use. This Language affects certain characteristics of reality and works best when “instructing things to be what they naturally were or to do what they naturally wanted to do.” Nothing like escaping a villain and his cronies in a museum by bringing stuffed animals back to life, eh?
 
But having the Language of the Library at her disposal does not make Irene any less relatable. She, like most normal librarians and book lovers of all world, “just wanted—had always wanted—a good book to read” and as she puts it, “Being chased by hellhounds and blowing things up were comparatively unimportant parts of the job. Getting the books—now, that was what really mattered to her.” Plus, I love her sense of humor and found myself snickering at many of her remarks, one such being to her trainee, Kai, “Let’s just be grateful that corsets aren’t required wear any longer.” When he asks why he should be grateful about this, she responds, “Because you don’t have to deal with me while I’m wearing one.” And another scene depicts her struggle to decide whether it was “more important to maintain her cover as a helplessly feminine secretary or to beat the bag–snatcher over the head with the chair and take him prisoner.”
 
The book isn’t just a light-hearted romp; however, it also poses very interesting questions and moral dilemmas. Many of these questions makes the heroine realize that she doesn’t even know all of the answers. For instance, as there are alternate universes, what is stopping a Librarian from entering that alternate world , introducing new technology available in other worlds—that could even save lives or make that world a better place—or instead, making it into her own world built around her desires? I quite liked the implications of this moral dilemma and was even more pleased by the heroine’s consideration of it when confronted with a villain who aims to make worlds into his very own. It’s interesting, and a different spin than the usual go-to-an-alternate-world-and-stop-something-from-happening-and-then-deal-with-all-of-the-consequences-of-that-new-action time-paradox junk that is everywhere. Sure, I’m sure everyone wonders what would happen if they hadn’t poured that glass of orange juice and spilled it all over their white sweater, but it’s been done so many times, and as such, I find it quite boring.
 
The ethical quandary The Invisible Library presents is completely refreshing to me, making Librarians, who are actually the keepers and protectors of many worlds—in the form of books—into their literal role and ramping it up, by giving them the potential to be God-like entities. And on top of this, I also liked that all of the worlds to which the Librarians traveled, had a very delicate balance of lawful and chaotic forces—making some worlds more prone to the impossible and others quite structured and logical. Plus, the balance often shifts with the interference of dragons (lawful) and fae (chaotic) beings, making even more endless possibilities to an already endless strew of worlds and universes and the librarians that travel them. In fact, it is mentioned many times throughout the novel, that it is very dangerous for the secret of Librarians and the many worlds to get out—one wrong word here and there about technologies that don’t exist, and things can get very chaotic, and fast. The precarious balances of the world and the secret mission of the Librarian visitors gives the series a potential that I can easily see being very interesting in future installments of the series.
 
Though I am always a sucker for stories about kickass Librarians, this book went above and beyond my expectations and I am honestly more than ready to splurge and to buy the rest of the series (even though I have so many other books I should read first). So if you’re looking for a book about Librarians, definitely don’t hesitate to pick this one up, especially if you liked “Ink and Bone.” Ultimately, I prefer this book to the former, and I cannot wait to learn more about this series, most especially the secrets of this mysterious Library—something that this book certainly laid groundwork for—but didn’t illuminate on too much. I also have my prediction about Irene’s parents and her true origins, which I can’t wait to confirm or to deny. And even though the book states that “a good Librarian [is] supposed to read headlines, not make them,” I have a feeling Librarian Irene will be making a lot of headlines in the future and I will definitely be reading them.
 

 

four-half-stars
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Book Review - bloggingwithdragons.com - The Invisible Library

Posted April 10, 2017 in Book Reviews, Fantasy

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