Book Review: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

Invisible Library Cover ArtTitle : The Invisible Library

Author : Genevieve Cogman

Publisher : Roc Trade Paperback Original

Release date : June 14th, 2016

Rating : 3.5/5

Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.

Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own.

Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.

Review :

The Invisible Library’s world isn’t perfect, but in my bookworm’s opinion, it has so much potential that I could drown in it!

This trilogy (yep, already two books are out in Europe) bathes in a pool of possibilities; possibility to go deeper into each character, possibility to expand this series and generate spin-offs à la Mortal Instruments, possibility to explore all the alternate worlds mentioned throughout the book. I am positively amazed at the potential of this world Cogman created! However, all this potential had me realizing that there was, in my opinion, too much action and not enough substance; all my unanswered questions and some loose ends left me unsatisfied. But still I cannot wait to read the second book!

From the summary, I thought this would be a classic fantasy read, you know? It would have meant an elegant and solemn prose, precise and extended vocabulary, but that’s not what I encountered when I turned on the first page. It remains, after all, a YA series. It was, first of all, pretty clear that this was Cogman’s debut novel, as the writing is a bit inconsistent and disorganized. But just a bit, though, no more. The protagonist Irene’s voice dominated the novel, and considering how “young” she is, Cogman felt the need to add those YA-typical unnecessary bits of thoughts and “attitude” or, like we call it these days, sassiness. Unfortunately, Irene’s voice took away the mystery and the foreignness of what this book could have been, considering the highly intriguing concept of an out-of-this-world Library, alternate worlds and espionage.

After I got over my disappointment, though, I was quickly drawn in by the spy thing. The author demonstrates many spy reflexes and techniques, while not being too heavy on the stuff, but just enough to make it exciting and feel like you could pull off those tricks and look totally badass. What also drew me in was the world. Can you imagine? Alternate worlds, an Invisible Library existing between them, Library agents going in those worlds to take precious books and encountering fictional creatures, like werewolves and vampires and faes. However, the way Cogman presented her world left to be desired. “Slowly but surely” would apply here; I could even add a “too slowly”. It was so slow, even, that I got confused many times at the beginning, and even nearing the middle. Needless to say, my frustration flared up quite a few times.

For the characters themselves, what I liked most was their imperfection. Kai got my heart beating on his first appearance, not because he’s good-looking, but because he’s a novice: he’s inexperienced, curious, eager to learn, eager to come up with smart ideas and solutions to please his mentor. Just a little puppy wagging his tail! Irene is a spy, but a junior spy, prone to mistakes, and not always the best. She’s not a Bond or a Bourne, she’s still learning, and sometimes lets her emotions have the better of her. Most importantly, she learns to trust herself and to tackle difficult questions about her circumstances and the Library. Their imperfection creates perfect moments of laughter, moments to enjoy and cherish because their situation is quite dark indeed. The tension between Kay and Irene was unnecessary, but very entertaining and helped to add some lightness in their mission.

The Invisible Library’s was a thrilling adventure, where dragons and faes and other creatures mingle, and anything can happen at the turn of a page!

Picture sources : 1, 2

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