Review: The Invisible Library

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

27209460Series: The Invisible Library
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
Maturity Level: 3
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it’s already been stolen. 
London’s underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself.
Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself…

This is a classic example of a book that isn’t very good but was wildly entertaining anyway. I mean, it’s hard to go wrong with a library spy novel. Dr. Who meets Thursday Next.

Most of the problems in The Invisible Library were with the characters. None of them were particularly well developed, and there is very little character growth, if any. But what was really distracting was how inconsistent they were. The protagonist, Irene, in particular seemed unable to make up her mind, and her student, Kai, had like, seven personalities. Their relationships were also all over the place. One second Irene is like, “You’re obnoxious, I don’t like you,” and ten pages later she’s like, “Oh, he would be so nice to take to bed.”

The narrative also kind of careened about, almost as if Cogman didn’t know where it was going. While adding to the element of mystery (what on earth is really going on here???), it mostly just made things seem confusing.

However, those problems aside, if you like fast-paced adventures, this is a fun one. While borrowing heavily from nearly every fantasy novel ever written, Cogman created a multiverse that is jam-packed with magic, creatures, steampunk and cyberpunk inspired tech, and just about anything else you could think of. And the whole thing is a little meta, almost hinting that it’s the books themselves that create these unique worlds.

Throughout the novel is a deep love of books. Not just books, but specifically novels and fiction. Irene’s job as a Librarian is to preserve books for no other reason than the love of new stories.

I also really enjoyed the dialogue. Strange character names aside, the characters spoke very similar to the way I do. They bantered, made snarky side remarks, replaced expletives with silly words like “fricking”, and made mental sarcastic responses to other characters. It was funny, fun, and a nice change from the norm, where authors usually elevate speech just a little bit so that it “sounds better”.

If a book-inspired break-neck paced action/adventure/fantasy sounds like fun to you, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy The Invisible Library. However, if you prefer high-quality prose with a deeper purpose or message, maybe try something else. I personally ate it up, but I probably won’t be continuing with the rest of the series.

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