This is more than just a book review. This is a story about how I fell in love with this book and how the book itself set the bar for what I expect in a future boyfriend.
It’s attractive: The cover is gorgeous. The yellow and white with black hand-written font was the first thing that caught my eye and kind of sets the tone for the book. Bonus: the US hardcover glows in the dark.
It’s charming: I don’t know quite how to explain this one but the writing just has this charm about it that woo’d me from the very beginning.
Mysterious: Just enough to move the story along
Funny: I was laughing out loud throughout the entire book.
And most importantly It’s unapologetically nerdy: Everything from typography and tech to table-top rpgs and of course books themselves.
So a little about the actual plot of the book. It start’s off with the main character Clay who’s a little down on his luck. After having some success as a Graphic Designer, the company that he was working for is abandoned by the owners, leaving him jobless. During one of his efforts to find a job he happens across a strange vertical bookstore labeled “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” and is greeted by the one and only Penumbra, who soon offers him a job.
Left with a lot of time on his hands with the night shift, Clay starts noticing some strange patterns that some of the customers are exhibiting. One is that they never seem to pay for the books. And two, they “check out” mostly these strange books from the “wayback list”. In his efforts to figure out what is going on, Clay uncovers a secret society known as “the Unbroken Spine”.
What I thought: If you did not catch on earlier: I loved this book. As a bookseller and a book lover I fully appreciated all the references to weird customers and trying to sell everyone you know your favorite book. The reference’s to various realms of geek culture also were very well received from my end. That was definitely one of the biggest draws at first.
The Quirky characters kept me reading though. They were all very different and despite not going very far into their histories, their personalities stood out. Clay’s best friend is a wealthy businessman and software designer famous for designing the software to make perfectly simulated boobs in video games. His roommate spends most of the books turning their apartment into a mini city. His Girlfriend is a independent and determined Googler who uses all of Googles power to try to help him. Overall they reminded me a lot of my friends.
I also really loved the delicate dance that technology and books had throughout this book. It really showed that both have their strengths and weaknesses but when they are combined is where really cool things can result. Although, in the end it’s comforting that print was ultimately the kinda-sorta victor. There is something about printed books that I don’t think digital technology will ever truly match.
I ended up giving this book a 4.5 even though I wanted to give it a full 5 really badly. There were just some small things that made certain parts rougher or slower than others. But no relationship is perfect.