- Release Date: October 2, 2012
- Pages: 304 Pages
- Genre: Adult Fiction
- Publisher: Farrar, Staruss and Giroux (MacMillian)
I discovered the page 69 theory from the Books on The Night Stand podcast, but I guess it's been circulating the bookternet for while. The theory states that the litmus test for if you will like a book can be found by reading page 69.
Well, challenge accepted.
I picked five random library books, read page 69 and chose one to read based soley on how much I liked that page. I went mostly toward adult books, because I tended to know less about them. The books I read from were:
A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Haplin
The Dead Run by Adam Mansbach
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Any Resemblance To Actual Persons by Kevin Allerdice
I ultimately choose Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore. Page 69 of this novel is the beginning of a chapter and is actually really indicative of the book. In the scene, our protagonist Clay is going on a date with the love interest, Kat, through his Mac book because he can't leave the bookstore. One thing I picked up on was a reference to an XKCD comic on Kat's nightsand. I regularly read this webcomic and know it tends to be about millennials, technology and programming which in the end completely fits this book's worldview and themes.
I really enjoyed this novel, it's an interesting look at the collision between old and new technology. Clay Jansen is a recent art school graduate in Silicon Valley, working at a cutting edge bagel startup when it goes under and he is laid off. Desperate for work he takes a job as a night clerk at Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore where he encounters the clandestine patrons who are wrapped up in secrecy and working on centuries old mission.
Sloane's writing style is so easy to get lost in. Clay's first person narration is witty and present with an almost stream of consciousness feel to it. It was so easy to get lost in and it was fun to observe this new world and experience he is thrown into.
This book also does some interesting things with Google, it turns the company into this almost mythical place. Clay's love interest Kat is a programmer at Google and at one point he goes to Google to visit her. While I think some of the things he describes about the company are real, I can't find any proof that they have special nutrients in the employees food or that there are massive Legos on the front lawn that house every YouTube video and e-mail in the world.
An interesting fact about this novel, it was originally a short story which Sloane shares for free here (but it spoils the book, kind of) it's cool to see what Sloane added and what he changed. This short story version particularly takes the Google satire to an extreme as in this version the Google campus is just a giant crystal.
In the end, I think there may just be some truth in this Page 69 challenge, it seemed to work fairly well in this novel, so now I think I'm ready for Round 2 !