Monday, June 27, 2016

The Invisible Library

Title:  The Invisible Library
Author:  Genevieve Cogman
Publication Information:  Roc. 2016. 352 pages.
ISBN:  1101988649 / 978-1101988640

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Irene passed the me across the stone floor in smooth, careful strokes, idly admiring the gleam of wet flagstones in the lanternlight."

Favorite Quote:  "One of the most important aspects of command is not giving orders that won't be obeyed."

This book had me at the title. Like many a bibliophile, I love books about books. The thought of action, adventure, and mystery surrounding a Library pulls me right in. A Library that exists hidden in the midst of a myriad of parallel alternate worlds, and a Librarian's ability to traverse these different worlds adds greater potential. A Library with the stated objective of "finding unique works ... and saving them in a place out of time and space" draws me in further. A Library that provides infinite, immortal access to the knowledge of the world is a book lover's dream. A Library that acts as protection and haven to those who bind themselves to it reinforces the symbolism a library holds. The main character Irene is, of course, a Librarian on a mission to preserve a particular text; the mission is one for which she is prepared to fight for and risk her life. The premise gets better and better.

Then, it gets complicated, very complicated. This book has a lot going on. A steampunk-like London setting. Alternate worlds. Zeppelins. Dragons. Werewolves. Magic. Fae (as in fairy) folk of the evil variety. Detectives. Renegade Librarians gone over to the dark side. Double crosses and betrayals. Magic referred to as Language. Even some humans. Like I said, this book has a lot going on. Fewer elements may have allowed more attention and room to develop each element. For example, I find the idea of an invisible library and the power of language intriguing. However, the book takes place primarily outside of the Library and does not explain the use of Language or the workings of the Library. I want to know more; I want to explore the Library. Werewolves, zeppelins, and such I can do without.

For the most part, the book also reads like a children's or young adult story. The inclusion of so many different elements with less depth in each lends to that image. The one main exception is an odd exchange between two main characters about their physical awareness of each other and the decision to pursue or not to purse that as a physical relationship. That tension definitely places this book in the adult camp even though it is incidental and unnecessary to the story.

With all the elements in the book, the book is an action packed adventure. Things happen one after the other, lending to the main theme of chaos leading to trouble. At the same time, the book feels a bit monotone. That is perhaps because the main characters are not all that compelling; much more attention is given to developing the world around them. I don't find myself cheering for them or reading furiously to make sure that they will survive all the situations they find themselves in. The book is a fun read. It is a light, entertaining read. It is just not a compelling one. It is also clearly the first book in a series, and I am as yet undecided as to whether I am vested enough to read on. Maybe, maybe not.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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