Like many readers, I love the feeling of getting so caught up in a book that you just can’t put it down. That’s what happened with both of the books I’m sharing with you today, We Were Liars by e. lockhart and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.
We Were Liars by e. lockhart
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
It’s tricky to say much about We Were Liars without risking giving away the Big Plot Twist, so this will be an especially mini mini-review. Cadence Sinclar, a member of the “beautiful Sinclair family” spent every summer of her childhood on her family’s private island off Martha’s Vineyard. In Summer Fifteen, Cadence has an accident that destroys her memory and leaves her basically an invalid. In Summer Seventeen, Cadence returns to the island for one last summer where she tries to figure out what happened.
This book is going to get talked about this summer, I think for good reason. The writing is just beautiful — sharp, smart, sometimes funny — and the story sucks you in immediately. I read this one in a single long evening, staying up well past my bedtime to finish it. It’s really good. If you’ve read the book, I recommend checking out Nymeth’s (things mean a lot) discussion post on the book and the marketing Tumblr made for the story.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything — instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends. But when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is a book basically written for book people who also love the Internet. Robin Sloan is really smart about mixing the old and the new, the nostalgia for books and bookstores with a reverence for the power technology can have. The book is a bit of an adventure story, a bit of a mystery, a bit of a romance and a bit of a love letter to readers. I started this one at the end of the Readathon in April and finished it within a couple days. It’s a fun story although perhaps not as ultimately mind-bending as the setup suggests that it might be.
Disclosure: I purchased both of these books with my hard-earned cash money.