Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Invisible LIbrary (Genevieve Cogman)

The Invisible Library
The Invisible Library series, Book 1
Genevieve Cogman
Fiction, Fantasy
*** (Okay)

DESCRIPTION: The Library spans countless alternate worlds, a repository of unique volumes kept apart from time and staffed with essentially-immortal Librarians. While many people love books, to serve the Library one must be willing to die for them... though some few are more than willing to kill.
Daughter of Librarians herself, Irene has always known what her future would be, helping secure volumes for the Library and earning tenure toward her own promotion and research dreams... always with a good detective novel waiting for her at the end of the day. But her latest mission sees her saddled with a trainee, the roguish Kai, whose smoldering eyes and enigmatic past hint at strange secrets. If she's expected to train up new blood, she figures it can't be that challenging of an assignment, and on the surface it looks simple: secure a book of fairy tales from a steampunk variant of London. She soon learns that this world is infested with werewolves and vampires and dangerous Fae... and an even deadlier foe awaits, the long-rumored traitor Librarian who turned his back on his calling and now serves the forces of chaos that seek to destroy all worlds, and the Library along with them.

REVIEW: A vast, all-encompassing library, a love of books, a side character with ties to dragonkind... I should've been immersed in this book from page one and eagerly scrambling to grab the sequel. Instead, I felt like I was being left out in the cold, looking in on a book that didn't care to bring me along as a reader. The characters came across as plot-shaped cardboard constructs, always keeping me at arms' length; I honestly couldn't tell if this was a deliberate conceit by an author determined to pay homages to literary traditions where character depth was often a forgotten afterthought, or if they really were just half-developed entities created to enable a plot cobbled together from tired tropes. The story was convoluted and often unbelievable, full of weird in-world quirks and characters with conflicting goals and tangential tangles and out-of-the-blue conflicts and resolutions that never really made sense, and after a while I just plain stopped caring to try. Some of the imagery was intriguing, a rare few scenes were briefly almost amusing, and now and again the story tried to take off, but too many sandbags kept my suspension of disbelief earthbound. The whole thing just came across as bland and tired, posturing at adventure and drama and sense of wonder without actually achieving those things. Maybe I'm just too illiterate or poorly cultured to appreciate what other reviewers apparently laud as a witty genre homage. Or maybe these tea leaves have been rebrewed one too many times for a flavorful cup.

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