You guys didn’t make NEARLY enough fuss over this book when it came out, so I thought it was another Book About Bookstores, The Smell Therein, Etc. And I can’t really get down with those. But THIS is bookstore meets the internet meets trashy fantasy novel. It’s basically a Venn diagram of Things Raych Likes.
So Clay works at a 24-hour book store, and he pulls the graveyard shift, and it’s weirder than you’d expect a graveyard shift at a bookstore to be. Because the store has a section he calls the ‘Waybacklist’ and the pages are just covered in strings of characters, like some kind of code, and all sorts of odd ducks come in to return a book off the Waybacklist and choose their next one, and they have ID numbers and Clay has to log their appearances at time of book retrieval and everything. It’s eerie.
EVENtually Clay uncovers this secret club of readers, who have to crack the code in one book before it’ll tell them which book is next, and then they have to crack that one, and so on until the pattern emerges. But Clay is like, Fuck that, I live in the future. So he borrowsteals one of the log books and has his new, cute, working-at-Google girlfriend Kat scan it in and then they just *plok plok plok* and hey presto, the giant computer hive mind filters out the pattern.
Technically it’s ‘TECHNOLOGY!’, but I can’t really hear your semantics over how awesome science is.
And then, obviously, there’s more quest to go on, and it’s very A Quest. It’s bankrolled by Clay’s childhood friend Neel, once a nerd and now a CEO of a computer animation company, with whom Clay once bonded over a series of awful fantasy novels (which is not just an add-in Reason For Friendship but a Thing That Is Important Later, as well as an Amusing Running Joke. At one point, Clay has to go do a thing and he’s trying to explain to Kat why he has to do it alone and he’s like, ‘I’m the rogue in this scenario.’ And Kat is like, *eyebrow* and he’s like, ‘He’s [Neel] the warrior, you’re the wizard, I’m the rogue. This conversation never happened.’ And it’s so dorky and embarrassed and apt).
There are like ONNNNNE or two times when Sloan is all, ‘If fidgets were Wikipedia edits, I would have completely revamped the entry on guilt by now, and translated it into five new languages’ and I am like, TOO CUTE, no thanks. But mostly it’s just the right amount of jokey, and adventurous and bantery and it’s about READING and TAKING READING SERIOUSLY but also THE INTERNET.
I’m running out of ways to say AND THIS BOOK WAS ALSO GREAT. I’m really just having a string of excellent reads. I need to read some Jodi Picoult to cleanse my palate and froth up a little enthusiastic rage.
But this! Eight caterpillars.