Y'know those times when you're passing by the stacks in a library and you notice one particular spine - almost as if the book is calling out to you? Yeah, in the last 3 or so months, this has happened to me exactly 3 times. The first book that caught my eye was Time Snatchers and the second book is the one I will review today.
The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler is the first book in a planned series of 5. To my knowledge only the first two books have been published. I'll admit it, I was tempted to put the book back when I read it was the first book of a series. For the last few years I have mostly read YA books and that means series after series after series. There are some I didn't mind very much at all. Series like The Hunger Games and The Infernal Devices work well as series. But, there were some series that could have been much shorter (e.g. The Crossed trilogy, the Mortal Instruments series, etc.) So, being tired of series, I wasn't sure I wanted to pick up a jfiction series. But then I realized that I would probably finish reading the first book in like 2 days and thought, why not?
Well, it took me longer than 2 days to read the book, but that was due to a wide array of factors. But none of those factors includes disinterest. In fact, within the first 2 chapters, the book had caught my wholehearted attention. One day Alice stumbles upon a conversation her father is having in secret with what seems to be - a fairy? A few days later, her father sets of on a voyage at sea and is tragically killed when the ship sinks. Alice is shipped off to her uncle Geryon - a distant relation she didn't even know existed. A nighttime expedition into Geryon's fascinating library and a chance meeting with Ashes, a talking cat and a boy named Issac reveals to Alice that she is a Reader; she has the power to enter the world in books and in order to leave the book, she must defeat the creature inside. This realization brings forth many questions for Alice, especially when she finds out that the fairy that she saw that night speaking to her father is within the library as well.
Ok, can we just start with - I LOVED THIS BOOK! It's a fantasy book with a twist. Clearly there are some references to Alice in Wonderland, but this story goes in an entirely different direction. My favorite thing about this book is that the plot was so well thought out. Everything connected and made sense at the end. There was not a single character that was "wasted" per se, each character served to further the plot and really bring Alice's world to life. There were many twists and turns in this book which means that 1. You must always be on your toes and 2. You won't get bored. Having Ashes as a supporting character was one of my favorite things about this book since he is really witty and sarcastic which clearly makes him my favorite character.
I liked the writing style of the author very much. There was a lot of world building but it happened in small increments so that you never felt like you were being dumped a load of information. The only times there was anything even similar to an "information dump" may have been when Alice receives instruction in what she is meant to do as a Reader and how she can hone her skills. However, since she is actually being trained to do this, the information presented isn't out of place, therefore it does not stall the flow of the storyline. The black and white illustrations throughout the book were absolutely amazing. One minute, I was reading about a new creature and imagining it in my head and the next minute I was staring at an illustration of exactly what I was picturing.
The ending was of course left open. There are many questions still left to be answered but it seems that many major players were introduced in the first book. I'm really looking forward to the second book and to see how Alice's powers develop. There are a lot of loose ends in the first book that make it a must to read the second, but it didn't feel like an incomplete story at all. If anything, it felt like the end of the first big adventure while at the same time, the start of the next adventure. It's a great way to end a book and I personally loved it from beginning to end.
Was there anything I would have changed? No, not particularly. If there could be more of Ashes the cat, that would be nice, but that's just because I enjoyed his commentary, haha. I do wish though that Vespidian (the fairy) and his origin would have been explored more. This may come up in a later book, but I feel like it would have been nice to have in the first book just so that the foundation is laid. But, it didn't really bother me much and overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a good fantasy adventure and especially one that places such an emphasis on the power of words and books!