The Library Book Book Review

Thanks to Simon and Schuster and NetGalley for an exclusive advance reader’s edition of this title for the purposes of review.

Image Courtesy of Simon and Schuster

When the initial concept of Tom King’s latest rendition on the Caped Crusader was introduced, it left many perplexed, especially when regarding the introduction and usage of the character of Catwoman. While I will not delve into the plot point itself within this review, the overall curiosity of the element is what excites fans for King’s graphic novel release of Bride or Burglar. However, while the art of the book is truly stunning, the actual material or storytelling leaves much to be desired. It teases fans on what the interesting element could provide for both characters, Batman and Catwoman, but it never holds true to the promise that its title suggests. As a whole, Batman Vol.6: Bride or Burglar is a beautifully stunning recreation of the modern Batman mythos but lacks any real substance to warrant a read, to say nothing of a purchase.

What is ultimately the strongest aspect of the book is what it sets up from the very first page. Right from the start, Orlean appears keen on exploring the tragedy of the 1986 Los Angeles Library fire. This thread of the book is masterful in both its design and execution. Uncovering hidden details about the primary suspect Harry Peak was a fascinating ride that almost felt like a quality mystery novel at times. It is a pure shame then that the focus of the title drifts so dearly off course.

Image Courtesy of KCET

As suggested by its title, The Library Book is practically a detailed history of libraries, even including the very creation of the place. While I often found myself charmed with the passion of the topic that Orlean was displaying, I couldn’t help but notice how disjointed the plot thread was with the primary story. In fact, during the confusing time jumps between the place in the history that Orlean was exploring and the fire itself, I had to flip back a few pages just to note where the book was. As a lengthy read, it should not make readers do that. Unlike works like Inception or Dunkirk, the reason for these confusing time breaks is never explained, much less given a proper reason for its existence. Not once during the entire read did I think that it was a worthy addition to the story, that enhanced the experience. In addition, the sheer abundance of this second plot thread confused and deterred me as a reader and fan of the original story. I estimate it takes up more than half of the entire book, causing the pacing to drag to a sluggish and boring speed. Through the week it took to read the title, it never felt as if the writing was ever rewarding enough for my patience and perseverance through its slaggy pacing. It felt like a forced hobby at times, an experience that no author should strive for their readers to feel.