A Review of The Invisible Library Series
Once I devoured The Great Library series, I felt bereft. I needed something to fill the void. Fortunately, Amazon Kindle was kind enough to send me an email recommending other books I might like. This is how I was introduced to The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman. I’m pretty sure I clicked the “buy now” button after reading only part of the synopsis. (I have since completed reading the entire series and am on the lookout for my next book obsession. I’m open to suggestions!) The Invisible Library series is an adventurous and delightful tale.
Irene is a Librarian, but not just any librarian. She obtains books by any means necessary from different worlds to solidify the Library’s connection to those worlds. Each world is a reflection of a different reality, and sometimes unique works of fiction are written in one world, but not in any other. For example, a distinctive version of Alice In Wonderland may have a dog instead of a Cheshire Cat. Irene retrieves the book, deposits it in the Library, and then repeats the process for a new book in a different world.
In the first book of The Invisible Library series, Irene is assigned a student Librarian, Kai. Kai has some oddities about him, but Irene doesn’t have time to question him. By the time they arrive in the alternate world, the book they are assigned to obtain is stolen. Irene and Kai get tangled in a detective story as they work to carry out their mission.
Cogman weaves a multi-dimensional universe with just a few scenes. There is enough description that anyone even slightly familiar with history can understand the culture and technology level of each world. She does not bore the reader with details, which allows the imagination to fill in the blanks. The worlds are many and diverse, each with their own notable qualities.
The characters are also many and diverse. Cogman gives them all distinctive traits and personal stories. Throughout the series, the main characters are challenged by both outside influences and inner turmoil. Even though we see it all through the eyes of Irene, the characters’ developments are displayed. The storyline is very character-driven. Cogman uses dialogue, both internal and external, and events to advance the plot. Cogman also throws in some moral dilemmas for the characters and causes them to make difficult choices. I appreciate this because it is how real life happens.
There are a few improvements that could be made to an otherwise outstanding series. There are times Irene explains what is happening to the reader, which is a huge shift in point of view and causes the story to pause. It is difficult to get back into the reading zone after one of these shifts. There is also a bit of head-hopping. Irene suddenly knows what another character is thinking or feeling without that character saying or doing anything. I suppose this can happen with people who know each other well, but for a teacher and student who recently met? It’s implausible.
I did notice the writing and skill level of Cogman improved throughout the series, so that is encouraging. The next books have less head-hopping and inconsistencies, which shows she is improving her craft.
Overall, I would recommend The Invisible Library series to anyone aged 14 and up. It can be used as a teaching tool to discuss how choices affect those around us and when to do the right thing even if it means breaking the rules.