Ashley Mansour’s Blood, Ink & Fire – YA dystopian set in a world without books

Ashley Mansour’s Blood, Ink & Fire – YA dystopian set in a world without books

As an avid reader and an English teacher, I really was rooting for Blood, Ink & Fire.  My worst nightmare would be a world without books!  It takes a lot for me to admit that, in the end, it felt like a depressing and pointless read.  I’m taking a bit of a beating on my Amazon reviews for this opinion, though, so maybe I just didn’t get it.  Maybe you, too, will think I’m a big ole idiot for not embracing this book, but I stand by my two star rating – this book just didn’t do a thing for me as a reader.


Goodreads Summary

Imagine a world without books…

In the future, books are a distant memory. The written word has been replaced by an ever-present stream of images known as Verity. In the controlling dominion of the United Vales of Fell, reading is obsolete and forbidden, and readers themselves do not—cannot—exist.

But where others see images in the stream, teenager Noelle Hartley sees words. She’s obsessed with what they mean, where they came from, and why they found her.

Noelle’s been keeping her dangerous fixation with words a secret, but on the night before her seventeenth birthday, a rare interruption in the stream leads her to a mysterious volume linked to an underworld of rebel book lovers known as the Nine of the Rising. With the help of the Risers and the beguiling boy Ledger, Noelle discovers that the words within her are precious clues to the books of the earlier time—and as a child of their bookless age, she might be the world’s last hope of bringing them back.

Blood, Ink & Fire is a gripping, evocative tale that asks, who would we be without books?

My Thoughts

In a nutshell, I was bored.  I think a big part of the problem is that the plot hinges on a quest that doesn’t really have a clear purpose.  I never really understood what Noelle was suppose to do if she succeeded, so I didn’t really care if she did.  If you are going to create a quest for your hero, he or she needs to either make a big impact when hitting the finish line, or the journey needs to count for something.  This journey didn’t help the character grow, and it certainly ended in a way that took the wind out of my sails.  That being said, it wasn’t all bad.  The setting had some real potential, and it felt a bit like Alice in Shakespeareland, which was cool.  And, I liked the romance.  It wasn’t my favorite type of love story, bittersweet, but I did understand how the circumstances created a bond that Noelle was reluctant to relinquish.  Ultimately,  the negatives outweighed the positives for me in this book.  I can’t see my high school readers getting through this one because I would have stopped at 30% if I hadn’t felt obligated to finish it since I requested it.  Language and situations are appropriate for high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  


About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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