*MAJOR SPOILERS (THIS IS A RANT)
I received a free digital copy of this book through Netgalley.
All Tari has ever wanted is to become a librarian of the Archive of Ink and Soul. She has the drive and the ability to make that dream come true, but also an unwavering love for learning that could guarantee her success through an exhausting four-year apprenticeship.
One archaic law is all that stands in her way.
Tari is not a natural-born citizen of the magical world she lives in, and to most, that would be enough to keep her from dedicating her life to the Archive. But after years of preparation and deception, Tari has everything she needs to make her dreams a reality, including an acceptance letter welcoming her as an apprentice librarian.
Tari has a plan.
Enter the world of the After, where book characters from our world go once their stories are over, as one young librarian risks her future for a chance at happiness. To make it through her apprenticeship, Tari must keep her true identity a secret by not only lying to those she loves, but betraying the very thing she has sworn to protect.
Following our main character, Tari, Apprentice is about a world called the After where book characters come once their stories have been written out. After wouldn’t be around without all the stories from the Before (Earth) and Tari, being a first generation character (not born from storybook characters but wished into the world) is hoping to become a librarian at the Archives where every story ever written is held.
Apprentice screamed out to me immediately as soon as I saw it was about books. I cannot get enough of books about books however, this one did disappoint. The whole concept of the novel was one I found intriguing but I felt like Thomas did not expand on the world itself or the Archives. We are told that the bestselling books can influence the world of After bringing new and exciting changes to the world, and we are told very little about the Archives except that they hold all of these books and that there are different “orders”, or factions, within this massive library that do different jobs. With Tari being an apprentice, I was hoping to learn more about the lessons she embarked upon and get more detail about these different orders. This didn’t happen.
Apprentice literally fits the entirety of four years worth of Tari’s life into a miniscule amount of pages. I didn’t feel like we got to know the characters properly, and we definitely didn’t get to find out more about the world around Tari. For example, Thomas touches upon the fact that Tari walks in on two lesbian characters, brings it up slightly a few pages later and then just leaves it. Yes, this is a sure sign that Tari doesn’t care what sexuality her friends are, but I was hoping for a bit more to the discovery – there wasn’t really any surprise!
Furthermore, the ending was disappointing and completely at odds to a story that could progress further. Tari goes through all this trouble to become a librarian at the Archives only to throw it all away by giving away her secret. And she’s completely fine with this?! This ending really set my opinion in stone and, though I did enjoy the interactions Tari had and the concept of the novel, it could have been a lot stronger was there more character development, more emphasis on what Tari was doing at the Archives, more time spent on her friendly/unfriendly rivalries, and more information about the world of After. I was expecting for some scandal or conflict to get in the way but the only conflict was an internal one she was scared of people knowing about that eventually, she didn’t overcome as she gave in!
I don’t personally see how this novel can progress forwards when she has already lost her one opportunity to do her dream job and she let it go so easily. I can understand that she didn’t want to lie to people, but you would think that she would fight a bit harder for something like this.