ARC Review: Blood, Ink & Fire – Ashley Mansour

Synopsis:blood ink and fire cover

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 The written word has been replaced by an ever-present stream of images known as Verity. In the controlling dominion of the United Vales of Fell, reading is obsolete and forbidden, and readers themselves do not—cannot—exist.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

I received an eARC edition of this novel courtesy of Upturn Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

You know the book you had read was probably not the greatest masterpiece ever written when your first Goodreads update whilst reading it says, “I can already tell that this book will take a while,” but I have to say that this novel did have a lot of potential, which may or may not have been wasted.

A WORLD WITHOUT BOOKS!? Do you mean hell.png

Because I think you do…  I found the entire concept so terrifying and yet just could not get into the story for a myriad of reasons.

I couldn’t connect with the setting, the world created was very much one dimensional despite seeming so vast – perhaps because the description was executed in an info-dump sort of way. However, Mansour’s writing style was pleasing to read; I really enjoyed the way she dropped in a few literary quotes into the story, and generally thought that her writing was beautiful at points.

However, much alike other books of the dystopian genre, Blood, Ink & Fire fell into the deep, dark realms of love-triangle/insta-love lovechild galore; complete with talk of spending the rest of their dark, dark eternity together basically hours after they just met. The romance was definitely too rushed for me to feel any positive emotions towards either of the potential pairings. If I was being frank, I didn’t particularly care for them in the slightest.

I honestly think that a good portion of the reason why I disliked this book was because it just followed so many of the dystopian tropes (but then honestly, that’s just me being horrible because after all, it is a dystopian story and it has every right to) even down to its predictability and the “My name is blabla, I am blabla years old, I did blabla,” cliché which has appeared in wayyyy too many books of the genre and personally, I’m starting to find it old…

The pace of the story was varied, and I’m not sure whether that was in a good way or not… because some parts felt awfully long whereas others I really wished Mansour would spend slightly more time on. The balance was definitely not struck. But yet I kept reading?

And I guess the ending was worth it, but also seemed like an easy way out of the huge mess that the book slowly unraveled to be? I am a mess of conflicted feelings about it.

It seems that I am largely in the minority when it comes to opinions on this novel, so I do urge you to read it – even if only for the scary premise to see whether you enjoy it much more than I did.

My Rating: 1.5/5 Stars

“You cannot change someone’s mind by lighting fires, burning their history, and persecuting their people. That will only push them further into extremism.”