This book was really, really weird. I’m still not sure whether I liked it. My regular gauge for whether or not I liked a book is if I’d read it again and I’m just not sure about this one. It was an intriguing story and did keep me guessing about where it was going. So there’s that. I also give it a lot of credit for just being really fucking weird. Let your freak flag fly, book. Let it fly.
Like. For real. I’m not even sure where to start with this.
OK. So. Carolyn is a librarian. But not like a normal librarian (she’s a cool librarian), with the sweaters and the glasses and the teen book clubs. She’s a librarian in a secret library, not of this world, and her specific skill set is languages. She speaks all of them, even animal and alien languages.
She grew up in this library with a group of children, having been orphaned and taken in by a man they all call Father. While Carolyn studies languages, her “siblings” study other catalogues of Father’s library. They are only permitted to read within their own catalogues. Anyone reading something outside of their own catalogue is severely punished by Father (seriously, it’s gross).
But, as the novel beings, Father has gone missing. And the siblings are scrambling for what to do next. They find themselves kicked out of Father’s library and forced to make their way in the real world, a place as far removed from anything they’re used to as it possibly could be. They don’t know how to dress or use money or talk on the phone or talk to normal people. It goes about as well as you’d expect. Carolyn seems to have some sort of plan but she’s hiding it from certain members of her tribe. She soon wraps a man named Steve into her plan, against his will, and he has trouble seeing eye to eye with Carolyn. They’re on different frequencies, having been brought up so differently, and she seems as inhuman to him as he seems simple to her. It causes some conflict, let’s say.
I will say, Hawkins is definitely an imaginative sort, not just with the story but with the characters. David is genuinely terrifying but also a source of humor. His girlfriend (I can’t remember her name) is just terrifying. Carolyn’s closest friends, Michael and Jenn, are a source of comfort but also broke my heart a tiny bit (maybe a not so tiny bit). And everyone is just whackballs crazy.
Just as a heads up, there are also some highly upsetting moments in this novel, including extreme violence (to self and others, including animals) and rape, which made it difficult to read.
Still, if you’re looking for something completely different, well…you’ve found it.