Series: The Library Trilogy #1
Published by Ace (5.1.2023)
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: Audiobook, 576 pages
Length: 22 hours, 28 minutes
Narrator: Jessica Whittaker
A boy has lived his whole life trapped within a vast library, older than empires and larger than cities.
A girl has spent hers in a tiny settlement out on the Dust where nightmares stalk and no one goes.
The world has never even noticed them. That's about to change.
Their stories spiral around each other, across worlds and time. This is a tale of truth and lies and hearts, and the blurring of one into another. A journey on which knowledge erodes certainty, and on which, though the pen may be mightier than the sword, blood will be spilled and cities burned.
I had really high hopes for this one, but in the end I think my expectations were just too high. The ratings for this book are crazy high, and I was hoping to be blown away. Sadly, I felt pretty ‘meh’ about this book. I wanted SO badly to love this book. Baa, baa, black sheep.
The concept is where this book really shines. It’s SO cool! The premise is wholly unique, and the atmosphere is inviting and uncanny. It’s basically just one big magical library. Which reminded me a lot of the library in Nevernight. The Mechanism was cool, and I liked the time variance that the story followed and the different worlds that existed through different portals. I also found the library itself to be very vivid. The idea of this book was incredibly interesting!
Unfortunately though, other than the concept, this book fell pretty flat for me. I didn’t care about any of the characters. I felt like I never got a chance to be invested in them, even though this book is insanely long. (Which is another issue I had: the length and pacing, but I’ll get to that in a minute.) I never felt like I really knew the characters. The only characters with any real personality were Livira and Malar; Evar was a wet rag and all of the side characters blurred together. I also had issue with some of the names being too similar – I listened, so maybe the spelling is different, but there were two different sets of names that sounded too similar in pronunciation and I kept getting the characters mixed up.
I also didn’t care for the weird relationship between Evar and Livira. By the end, they clearly had very strong feelings for one another, but to me it lacked any kind of development leading up to that point. They had very sparse interaction with each other throughout the book, and then suddenly Evar wanted to die rather than live without her?? It was quite odd. It didn’t help that they had zero chemistry whatsoever.
Back to the pacing issue: This book is stupid long. I felt like I was listening to it forever!! My goldfish-short attention span struggled with how plodding the pace was. I found myself zoning out frequently and had to rewind a few times because my mind kept wandering off. The story is quite long and meandering, and I found myself bored in certain parts where things dragged a bit. This is absolutely a story that should have captivated me, but it just didn’t. I never felt attached to the story or the characters, and even when there were revelations happening I still felt apathetic. Many readers described Lawrence’s prose as lyrical, but it doesn’t really speak to me, which added to the detachment.
Despite my lack of interest in the story, I will say that the narrator was fantastic! There were little excerpts of readings in between chapters, and while I’m not really a fan of that kind of thing, the various accents that the narrator used were phenomenal!
I really wish I had loved this book like everyone else did. It had so much potential.
Side note: I freakin’ loved Wentworth the cat and I wish there had been more of him.
“It’s always the books you don’t have that call to you, you know that. Not the ones already on your shelf, they can wait. […] Always hungry for the next book, before you finish the first page of the one before you.”
WELL IF THAT ISN’T RELATABLE.
Writing style: 3/5
Overall rating: 3/5