Paper and Fire jumps right back into the action bestselling author Rachel Caine created with 2015’s Ink and Bone, a series which supposes what the world might be like if the Great Library of Alexandria had survived the test of time. Readers of any age will be enthralled by Caine’s rewrite of history; spinning a dangerous tale of power and corruption. In Paper and Fire, the Great Library continues its stranglehold on knowledge throughout the world as it stamps out any notion of rebellion. Serving in the army is nothing like Jess Brightwell expected as he and his friends are still reeling from the violence and loss surrounding events at the end of Ink and Bone. He believes he’s lost his best friend, Thomas, forever and the girl he loves, Morgan, is locked away in the Obscurist’s Iron Tower.
After learning some surprising information, Jess and the others embark on a dangerous mission to save one of their own, secretly plotting to thwart the Library in an action packed narrative spanning not only Alexandria but Rome and even London. Dodging automata creatures and betrayal at every turn, Jess and his friends soon learn that even the places they’ve once called home aren’t safe and that the Library is willing to sacrifice anything and anyone to retain its unrelenting power.
The extended discussion of the power of knowledge and the effect on the world concerning what happens when that power is corrupt is a true highlight of the text. There is this broader exploration of Intellectual Freedom and what can happen in a world where thought and creativity is stunted. No spoilers here! However, one moment of significance is the discovery and outcome surrounding the Black Archives and the parallel with our world’s fate of the Library of Alexandria.
Caine’s series offers a profound opportunity to open the discussion of Intellectual Freedom with a diverse and youthful audience while also presenting a character driven and exciting narrative that will engage readers of any age.
Linsey Milillo works in teen and adult reference services for the Lane Libraries in Fairfield, Ohio. She’s an avid blogger with interest in reviews, programming and discussing timely issues at the center of library and information services.