Review: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

27177204-_uy200_Oof. Rough couple of weeks. My brain is full of snot and I am experiencing severe guilt over not updating here, even though I have been reading (I have! I swear!). But I am feeling deeply ineloquent, especially because the book I want to review is an elegant, delightful, rip-roaring adventure involving multiple universes and daring acts of bibliophilic theft.

So in lieu of a coherent essay review, here are five reasons why you should immediately obtain a copy of Genevieve Cogman’s The Invisible Library. 

5. Irene. The protagonist of the novel is a smart, no-nonsense adventurer who works for an organization called the Library. But this is not your ordinary library, oh no. The Library is an organization that exists between dimensions and works to preserve volumes from across the multiple universes it connects to. Some books are merely nice to have and exist in many worlds; other, rarer tomes are unique to their specific worlds, and may even have power over those realities.

4. Yeah, that’s right, the heroine steals rare interdimensional books for a living. How awesome is that?! It’s pretty awesome.

3. Amazing worldbuilding. The structure of Irene’s multiverse gives Cogman room to send her heroine to a number of different types of worlds. Most stable Earths are either magic-dominated or technology-dominated. However, worlds infected with chaos manifest things that should not be able to exist logically–things like vampires and werewolves. Irene and her sidekick spend most of the novel on a chaos-infected world that has a delightful mix of steampunk and urban fantasy. Delightful for the reader, that is. Practical Irene is less enthralled.

2. Kai. I walked away from this book with a new literary crush. It’s hard to make a character seem desirable with just prose, especially when the POV character is a practical mentor figure rather than an awestruck ingenue devoting entire paragraphs to his abs. But Cogman pulls it off. Kai is smart, mysterious, a little headstrong, and utterly charming.

1. A terrifying villain. For the sake of avoiding spoilers, I won’t go into detail about the enemy Irene and Kai find themselves facing, but there’s a real sense of danger and menace surrounding the book’s major antagonist. Like all good villains, this one has an understandable motivation and charisma to burn.

The Invisible Library also counts for several Read Harder challenges–it’s a fantasy novel (#12), it’s about books (#3), and it’s a debut novel (#2). But with a book this good the challenge is just icing on the cake. Enjoy!

Rating: Buy it

So, where am I on Read Harder 2017? Out of 24 challenges, I’ve completed nine (using five books) and I’m working on a book that will knock off two more. Not bad for mid-March, although I do feel a little like I’m cheating by doing so much double-counting!

  1. Read a book about sports.
  1. Read a debut novel–Check. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquival and The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman.
  1. Read a book about books–Check. The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman.
  1. Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author–Check. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquival
  1. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative.
  1. Read an all-ages comic–Check. Squirrel Girl
  1. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950.
  1. Read a travel memoir.
  1. Read a book you’ve read before.
  1. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location–Check. The Last Place by Laura Lippman.
  1. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location–In progress. Night in Shanghai by Nicole Mones.
  1. Read a fantasy novel–Check. The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman.
  1. Read a nonfiction book about technology.
  1. Read a book about war–In progress. Night in Shanghai by Nicole Mones.
  1. Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.
  1. Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country.
  1. Read a classic by an author of color.
  1. Read a superhero comic with a female lead–Check. Squirrel Girl.
  1. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey.
  1. Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel–Check. Hold Me by Courtney Milan
  1. Read a book published by a micropress. 
  1. Read a collection of stories by a woman. 
  1. Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love. 
  1. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color–Check. Hold Me by Courtney Milan.



2 comments on “Review: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

  1. I TOLD YOU! Or, rather, if I didn’t tell you, I was utterly remiss at not having told you. She had me at mechanical alligators and a female rivalry that did not involve fighting over a boy. (Aside: Do we think they slept together or am I misreading?) Irene is a badass. OK, I’m going to stop fan-girling. For now. Make sure you read them all. The second is my favorite, thus far.

    • Wait, also, do you need poet advice? Rilke’s New Poems are amazing, everyone should read Anna Akhmatova, and Basho’s Narrow Road to the Interior is of course a classic. I need to read more modern poetry in translation.

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