This is one of those books that I like even more the more I think about it. I can’t get the creativity of the story out of my mind. Defying any easy categorization, it’s Harry Potter, meets Dan Brown thriller, meets a bunch of book nerds, all set against a backdrop of Google-era hackers. It’s mysterious and funny and fresh and charming. It’s so hard to believe that this was Sloan’s debut novel.
Down on his luck graphic designer Clay Jannon is literally wandering San Francisco in search of a job when he stumbles into an unusual bookstore. Before long he’s cracking codes, embroiled in a secret society and smitten with a high-powered Google exec. This plot description doesn’t sound like my cup of tea, but there’s something quite magical about Sloan’s storytelling. I really can’t tell you any more about it without giving away the developments and moments that make this such a compelling book.
“This girl has the spark of life. Thus is my primary filter for new friends (girl- and otherwise) and the highest compliment I can pay. I’ve tried many times to figure out what ignites it — what cocktail of characteristics comes together in the cold, dark cosmos to form a star. I know it’s mostly the face – not just the eyes, but the brow, the cheeks, the mouth, and the micro-muscles that connect them all.”
While Sloan uses this passage to describe personal attraction, I would use it to describe this novel. It has life — the mysterious combination of factors that brings a book from black and white text to something that reaches inside my soul.
Loved it. I’ll have to add Sloan’s prequel, Ajax Penumbra 1969, to the reading list. Sloan has definitely left me wanting more.