‘The Invisible Library’ – Genevieve Cogman
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.
Oh dear, where do I start? A muddled, complicated plot; major characters that are irritating on every level; a novel that cannot decide what genre it wants to be… this read was sleep-inducing and not my cup of tea at all.
The first of a series (although this reader will certainly not be progressing further), this novel follows a Librarian who has been tasked with stealing an important book from an alternate reality – think Victorian London and throw in unusual technology. The setting makes this book read similar to “steam punk fiction”, which I found just didn’t work for me. Throw in some magic and dragons and you get a bit of fantasy. Plus, it’s sort of a crime story and aimed at teenagers. The Invisible Library just can’t settle and tries to take on too much.
Going back to the plot, I found this overly complicated with no decent “reveal” that would explain the background of what the Library was all about. Cogman gradually gives this information throughout the story and whilst this usually works, a plot of this complicated nature screams for this foundation to help the reader get interested. I couldn’t be sure that I trusted the Library and what they stood for and throughout reading, found myself creating bizarre conspiracy theories instead. As a result, I drifted through the book: never entirely sure what I had read, so had to keep going back and refocusing.
The major characters of Irene (Librarian), Kai (student) and Vale (a character from this alternative London), are all irritating in their own rights. And because they are key players in the story, I think this severely impacted my enjoyment of The Invisible Library. Irene is too stroppy for words; Kai is weak, insipid and would have benefited from an injection of vigour and interest; Vale is simply pompous and arrogant. Yes, I don’t have too much to say about any of them.
I think it’s fair to say that… no, I didn’t enjoy reading this book. It took far longer than it should have done for a three-hundred page read, and this was because I couldn’t get stuck into the plot. It tries too hard to be too many things and for me, fails miserably.