Title: Ninja Librarians
Author: Jennifer Swann Downey
Rating: ★★ 1/2
Synopsis: Just a little story about your average sword-swinging, karate-chopping, crime-fighting ninja librarians
Dorrie Barnes had no idea an overdue library book would change her life. When Dorrie and her brother Marcus chase her pet mongoose into the janitor’s closet of their local library, they accidentally fall through a passage into Petrarch’s Library -the headquarters of a secret society of ninja librarians who have an important mission: protect those whose words have gotten them into trouble. Anywhere in the world and at any time in history.
Dorrie would love nothing more than to join the society. But when a traitor surfaces, she and her friends are the prime suspects. Can they clear their names before the only passage back to the twenty-first century closes forever?
Huge thank you to Sourcebooks Jabberwocky and Netgalley for this ARC.
With a title like Ninja Librarians, how could this book not be amazing? Unfortunately, despite the unique and interesting premise, what readers are left with is a very one-dimensional story with not enough of that unique spark to keep it engaging.
I think this book will be a five star read for a lot of people, but where this book fell short with me was the fact that everything in it felt same-y throughout. The tone is consistent, but never interesting enough that I found myself impressed. The idea of Librarians as ninjas is fabulous and if you consider the line of work, they really are in a lot of ways, but how its presented here — I just wanted more from it than Librarians are sneaky and can do kung fu.
One thing I have to praise Ninja Librarians on is its atmosphere. Petrarch Library, as described in the text, is vivid and its easy to feel lost within the library and its walls. It’s no wonder then that Dorrie is so in love with the place and when she first encounters it. I actually thought Dorrie was wonderful — she has all the curiosity and tenacity a girl her age should have, but the rest of the cast was so unmemorable and one note that I had a hard time remember each one because, “omg ninja librarians.” I need more than a stereotype to keep me invested in the characters, and I felt like Downey wrote caricatures for everyone but Dorrie.
Ninja Librarians is not a bad book, but for me it needed more than a quirky premise to stay memorable. The writing is charming, the humor is spot-on, if a touch cheesy, but what this book has, that I will give it credit for, is that it has a ton of heart, and for what its worth, knows its audience very well. I still think the premise is brilliant, I just wish there had been more variation in the plot and a lot less emphasis on just the unique premise alone.