Sourdough // Robin Sloan


I was so excited about the premise of this book. Food, some science fiction, Silicon Valley satire? Sounds so good, right?

Sadly, Sourdough fell short of my expectations. The science fiction aspects of the plot were quite unsubstantial and, in fact, I would sooner call them paranormal. The sourdough starter had a life of it’s own, which was cute, and the Marrow Market had a few quirky advances; however, these things do not warrant a scifi distinguisher, in my opinion.

The characters, too, were as flat as a dead batch of sourdough starter. I constantly wanted to know how Lois was feeling beyond happy, sad, hungry for sourdough, etc.—especially considering the tyrannical work environment she found herself in. I felt similarly about other characters like Lily, Chef Kate, and the starter-supplying brothers. The exception to this is the Marrow Market’s librarian, whom I found quite charming.  

(Spoiler Alert) Since these things come in threes, I also must criticize the ending. It felt so rushed. Why, suddenly, did this pen pal and friend become a lover? It was random and read to me like an editor sat Sloan down and said “This book needs a love story. Make it happen in four days.” While I doubt that is what happened, I can’t help but think the whole ending should have been scrapped for something a little more in line with the rest of the novel.

On the other hand, I want to point out some things I loved.

1.     The Lois Club. I was completely enamored by this group of women who found each other all over the world simply because they share a name. When does the Megan club meet??

2.     The sourdough! The namesake of this book was delightful. I love books about food and this one certainly made me want to trudge out to the alley behind my city apartment and build a woodfire oven.

3.     The tone. Cheerful, sarcastic, and very spacey; I finished this book despite quite a few major complaints mainly because of the lovely tone Sloan created.

Overall? Sourdough left me hungry for more.

PUBLICATION DETAILS: MCD, 9/ 5 / 17, 272 pp. 978-0374203108. Fiction-> Urban