I first saw this as a beautiful cover from Byways in Bookland and after reading a few other reviews I borrowed it via Libby from my local library.
I'm of two minds as I reflect on the book. On one hand, I finished it and enjoyed it. I enjoyed the characters and while the finish wasn't what I expected, it was a great finish.
Robin Sloan's writing is tight and descriptive. I could feel myself enter the bookstore and I can imagine enjoying working through the store looking at volumes and loving the experience. I want to find a tall thin bookstore and climb the ladders as I inspect it's collections.
I found many of the characters believable, but not all of them and this is where my other side comes out. On the whole I found Kay (the leading guy's love interest) believable, but then we entered Google where she works to with other Googlers decrypt the book and that whole section felt force. Maybe force is wrong, but it certainly felt rushed and out of place in an otherwise good book.
When it came to The Unbroken Spine, I enjoy the idea, but the execution feels a bit thin to me. There should be a bit more gravitas to an organization that's been working on decoding a book for hundreds of years. While The Unbroken Spine had some depth, there wasn't much. I would have liked a bit more from that organization.
Overall while I was questioning the book during the whole Google decoding chunk, I finished it and felt satisfied. It's a fairly short read and it's now on my list to purchase. Further, I want to hear another story of Penumbra and Clay in their consulting agency and some mystery they solve. If that's not a vote in favour of the book, I'm not sure what is.
If you're up for a bit of a mystery set in current times that delves into some programming and a stodgy secrete society, this book may be up your alley.