Blood, Ink And Fire, Ashley Mansour – Book Review

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
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Blood, Ink and Fire has such an exciting premise, and a gorgeous cover to boot. A YA dystopian story set in a world without books, where instead all information is controlled and filtered as a constant stream of images through an AI computer system called Verity. It had promise, and I had to click request when I saw it was available for review. But, unfortunately, it didn’t deliver for me – and if this hadn’t have been a review copy I probably would have abandoned this book.

Blood, Ink and Fire

I think the big issue for me with this book was not the writing, which was solid, but the fact that the author seemed to have missed the memo about plot and character development. She simply drops the reader into a new world with very little information. We are introduced to Noelle, the protagonist, who suddenly discovers she can read those forbidden written words without ever having been taught what they mean, and runs away from her hometown Vale with her friend, John. It all happened very quickly and there was no real time to build a connection with Noelle, or an understanding of her relationship with John.

There’s inconsistencies within the characters and the plot too. I have no idea how Noelle was supposed to be able to read words without ever having been taught what the letters represented. Or why all the characters were so petrified of words when they all seem so intelligent and well-spoken; they use words all the time in speech and yet communicating on paper terrifies them. The sight of a book prompts responses such as; ‘A sound like a soul breaking explodes from him. “Woooooooorrrrds!’ It was almost comedic at times, and required a little too much suspension of disbelief for me.

As the story develops, Noelle discovers that despite the Fell government’s best efforts, there are a few books remaining, one in each of the nine Sovereigns surrounding the Vale. As a lone reader, she must journey to find the books and bring them together. Her journey to the Sovereigns is where the author’s creativity really shines through, and I did enjoy discovering the wonderful new worlds and learning about the different ways the areas had learnt to adapt without books. From those who dedicate all of their resources to a quest for knowledge, to rulers who keep the peace by providing their citizens with a constant supply of drugs, each of the Sovereigns is imaginatively written.

However, there’s other parts of this story which were a little too imaginative for me. A man who is books incarnated? I couldn’t get on board with that, and I didn’t enjoy the romance either. The book is littered with some really corny lines; ‘There’s only one way I know how to feel, and that’s deeply.’ and I found too many inconsistencies within the characters to really relate to them.

I hate to give a bad review of a book which the publishers have been kind enough to give me a chance to read before it is released. I do think this book was lovingly written; the writer has a strong premise and she’s clearly passionate about paying tribute to the power of words. There’s lots of quotes about books, the reader and the imagination which any reader will enjoy. Unfortunately, the execution of the premise fell flat for me.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Fantasy, Young Adult

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