Piranesi has been one of my most surprisingly delightful reads of the year thus far--and I also understand why it took about five/six months to get off the library wait list for it now. Also, I fear that this review might be a bit lacking on the details because there's so little that I can say without giving away too much about this incredibly charming and endearing story that is also full of mystery and intrigue, but we're going to do our best.
Piranesi follows a young man who doesn't technically know what his name is, but we all refer to him as Piranesi, a name given to him by 'the Other.' The Other, in this case, refers to the only other person that Piranesi knows and who visits the House that Piranesi lives in.
This is one of those books where you really don't know anything about... well, anything. We know that Piranesi lives in the House, which is huge and complex and easy to get lost in, and we also know that he is visited by the Other, whom he assists in some unknown research. That's pretty much it. What we don't know is what or where this house is, if there's even a world that exists outside of this house, and so on. Piranesi is also our only narrator, and since he is ignorant (adorably so!) of much of what might exist both within and outside of the House, there is a bit of an unreliable narrator aspect to this book that I loved. Clarke crafted this world in such an clever and intelligent way that I was completely hooked and somehow she managed to give us just enough intrigue and littered just enough clues along the way to make it hard to stop reading.
If you don't enjoy big casts of characters, then this is going to be a great choice for you because there's only a small handful of characters that are a part of this book in some form. Piranesi is, of course, our protagonist, and he is a true gem. Not since Lazlo Strange from Laini Taylor's Strange the Dreamer have i loved and wanted to hug a character so much. Piranesi is someone who clearly has a caring soul, a delightful personality, and is also extremely meticulous and intelligent. This story is written in the form of Piranesi's journal entries, and I really enjoyed his explanation for things in the House, directions around, and so much more. Because of the journal entries format, there's a bit of an extra layer because of some events that happen that only adds to the unreliable narrator aspect.
The House itself is also a character in itself, and I'm not sure how much more I want to say about it! This book is in itself a puzzle in many forms of the word. The House is a maze of corridors and stairs and different areas that not even Piranesi has explored fully (though don't doubt him--he knows his way around this House better than anyone ever has or will). The narrative and story itself is also puzzle in the sense that we slowly begin to unravel what's going on and where Piranesi is as he also discovers what's happening. This is such a fun yet weirdly unnerving and slightly dark journey that takes the form of a day-to-day slice-of-life sort of structure. It feels like nothing is really happening, but in reality there are a lot of major things going on in this book that Piranesi slowly becomes a part of.
This is a short little book and I read through it pretty quickly, but it packs so much into it and I wanted to re-read it almost immediately after finishing it. Overall, it was an easy five-stars from me! If you're at all curious about this book, then I highly recommend you give it a shot. It's a bit odd, but I found it completely captivating!