The premise: Haly is a clerk in the Libyrinth, a library so big and so vast that people get lost and are never heard from again. Haly's got a particular talent in that she can hear the voices of books, literally. When she's close, the book in question tells its story to her and only her. This makes her role to protect the books even more personal when the Eradicants make their yearly pilgrimage to the Libyrinth to burn volumes of books. When Haly learns of a plot that will allow the Eradicants to burn every volume left in the Libyrinth, she'll do anything to stop it. But what happens next opens Haly's eyes to a world she's never known or understood, despite growing up with the voices of books guiding her her entire life. Not only does she learn who the Eradicants really are and what they really believe in, but she learns what her true purpose in life is. That purpose could unite the world if she plays her cards right, or destroy it if she lets others make her decisions for her.
My Rating: Must Have: what starts out as a deceptively and almost irritatingly simple book about the dangers of censorship blossoms into something much more complex and engaging once you hit the POV switch. The pace is fast through-out, but I found myself more invested as Pearl North allowed her characters to learn more about the world and the cultures that populated it, and how all of those cultures influenced the Libyrinth itself. Truly North does a fantastic job crafting not one, but two likable and relatable heroines in Haly and Clauda, both of whom have a more important story than merely falling in love with a boy (though one of them does, indeed, fall in love with a boy, that's not the POINT of her particular story). North also does a marvelous job creating not one, not two, but three separate and distinct cultures that have their own values and faiths that come across as believable and real and not one dimensional (though one of the cultures seems one dimensional from the start--bear with the book, you'll be glad you did). But one of the best things Pearl North does with this book is incorporate passages of books into the text, to the point said passages become a kind of commentary on what's happening or what's about to happen. Particularly impressive is North's use of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, and how it plays into the climax of the story, which is also very well done. I'll be more than happy to pick up the second book in this trilogy, though this book is tied up so well that I'm left wondering just what exactly a second book would be about! Whatever it is, I look forward to it. North has impressed me with her YA debut, and I think she'll impress you as well.