Despite the fact that I had previously read one of Robin Sloan’s books (Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore), I went into Sourdough completely blind. I didn’t even realize it was the same author, I just knew I wanted to read the book with a UFO made of bread on the cover. And the story was just as weird and amazing as the cover.
(All reviews are spoiler-free unless otherwise noted.)
(From Goodreads) Lois Clary is a software engineer at General Dexterity, a San Francisco robotics company with world-changing ambitions. She codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighborhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders dinner every evening. Then, disaster! Visa issues. The brothers close up shop, and fast. But they have one last delivery for Lois: their culture, the sourdough starter used to bake their bread. She must keep it alive, they tell her—feed it daily, play it music, and learn to bake with it.
Lois is no baker, but she could use a roommate, even if it is a needy colony of microorganisms. Soon, not only is she eating her own homemade bread, she’s providing loaves daily to the General Dexterity cafeteria. The company chef urges her to take her product to the farmer’s market, and a whole new world opens up.
When Lois comes before the jury that decides who sells what at Bay Area markets, she encounters a close-knit club with no appetite for new members. But then, an alternative emerges: a secret market that aims to fuse food and technology. But who are these people, exactly?
I love bread, and sourdough is hands-down one of my favorites. Which I think is part of the reason I loved this book so much. All I wanted to eat for days was sourdough bread, and I was totally okay with that. I am also looking forward to getting back into bread baking soon, and that desire is 100% due to this book. Sourdough is a strange story, but it immediately drew me in. I could not put this book down, and when I managed to (I did occasionally have to do some actual work), I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was such a fun read.
I thought the story was a really great blend of mystery and contemporary with some science fiction and maybe even a bit of fantasy through in. The story was original and unusual, but still really easy to read. I liked that it combined both the tech and restaurant/farmers’ market words, because I liked reading about both. And I thought it was really well done, considering they are so different. In a strange way, this book definitely captured my impression of San Francisco.
One of my favorite parts of the book was the characters themselves. I enjoyed Lois’s internal conflict over finding her passion and how far she was willing to go to do so. And I almost immediately became attached to the mysterious brothers who leave her with their starter. I just have a huge soft spot for them, and I would NOT be opposed to a book about those two. They are easily one of the highlights of the book for me.
The only thing I didn’t absolutely love about this book was the ending, which was a bit anticlimactic. However, I honestly can’t think of an ending I would have preferred, so I can’t complain too much. (Though, if this book gets a sequel, I would be all over that.) The ending was still satisfying, even though I was left wanting more. And it was definitely not enough to make me dislike this book at all.
★★★★★ – I loved Sourdough. It is one of the most unique books I’ve ever read, and I just really enjoyed reading it. I should say, though, that I don’t think everyone is going to love this book as much as I do; I think it was just a prefect combination of me loving science and bread. Still, I think it’s definitely worth reading, especially if you’re looking for something wonderful and weird.
Sourdough is out in bookstores now – or you can order it on Amazon.
I highly recommend the audiobook version of Sourdough – I listened to most of it on audio, and loved it! To get the audiobook for free, use this link to sign up for a free trial of Audible and choose Sourdough as one of your two free books.
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