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The Dewey Decimal System

(Dewey Decimal #1)

3.14  ·  Rating details ·  540 ratings  ·  102 reviews

After a flu pandemic, a large-scale terrorist attack, and the total collapse of Wall Street, New York City is reduced to a shadow of its former self. As the city struggles to dig itself out of the wreckage, a nameless, obsessive-compulsive veteran with a spotty memory, a love for literature, and a strong if complex moral code (that doesn’t preclude acts of extreme

Paperback, 251 pages
Published April 19th 2011 by Akashic Books (first published 2011)
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Average rating 3.14  · 
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Jason Pettus
[Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography ( I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.]

I know, I know, you haven't been seeing very many reviews this year from our buddies at Akashic Books, which is because they simply haven't been sending very many books this year; and that's a shame, because it seems like every time I pick a new one up by them, at the very least it's still okay but much
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Part of me wants to give this book only one star to punish myself for spending money on a book I ended up hating.

I really wanted to like it. The formula should have worked - library references, post-apocalyptic new york, hard boiled detective.

The character, who suffers from OCD among other things, needs to remind us constantly of his ailments. It is too bad someone so obsessive about touching his key can't use pronouns in his sentences. The entire book feels choppy and disconnected, largely
May 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
When checking out The Dewey Decimal System by Nathan Larsen over on Amazon I found out it is part of the Akashic Urban Surreal Series. Unfortunately, beyond that Amazon listing I can’t seem to find anything about this series beyond that it sort of exists. I mean, I guess the series title sort of explains it all but a little more information on it might be nice. Indeed, before even seeing that such a series existed I don’t think I would have classified this novel as surreal. Maybe it’s the fact ...more
Dec 20, 2018 rated it liked it
What’s not to like about a mashup of a post-apocalyptic New York City, noir and a black, psychopathic, hitman with OCD and amnesia? This book hit multiple, buttons like that for me. I can see where some folks won’t like it, but it tickled my satiric funny bone while cleaving close to two genres of interest.

Firstly, this book is a short 250-page read. It’s also physically, artfully designed. Despite being a trade paperback, it has uncut, sometimes known as “deckle edged” pages. (I’d never seen
May 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: noir
there is a nice twist in this, and the scenes squatting in nypl are nice, and the character is going to re-do the shelving/dewey system after the library and nyc have been messed up and practically abandoned after another attack. they call it 2/14 in this story. but despite the lovable death machine that is dewey decimal, the actual bad guys seemed thin at best. the hand of john the baptist WAS a nice touch though. i've changed my mind on this and increased stars after reading his followup The ...more
Jun 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommended to Anna by: npl
This is one of the books that kept showing up on my library recommendations throughout 2013 ... I was hooked by the story idea (and the cover).
As I was reading, I was struck continually with the idea that this reminded me of something similar from a while ago.
With a weird and wacky narrator, with punches of violence and very dark humor, it finally hit me that I was reading a retelling of "The Ethical Assassin" -- with a post-pandemic, dystopian twist -- but set in NYC.

It's definitely not for
Jun 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone seeking an entertaining summer read
Nathan Larson has nearly drained the psychoses well dry in creating his character, Dewey Decimal. We are looking at OCD, PTSD, ADD(maybe), claustrophobia, addictions (smoking, those little pills), anxiety disorder, and paranoia here (although, in fairness, to quote Joseph Heller, “Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't after you...). Larson's purpose is not to create the skewed mental perspective of a psychotic. Instead, he seizes on this mix with a writer's gusto, embedding ...more
Apr 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011-reads
*** 1/2

There seem to be a lot of dystopian novels set in New York post-9/11 out there, but I really enjoyed this one. In addition to being set post-9/11 (which is never referred to directly, sort of like Jess Walters' The Zero--the only hint of it is the Freedom Tower in lower Manhattan), it's also set post-2/14, though we never learn what *exactly* happened on 2/14 beyond a whole lot of destruction.

Dewey is a dark and mentally-unstable but wholly sympathetic and likable character. (I told
I....wanted to love this book. Because: librarian. But it just kinda somehow creeped into pretentious-literary-dudes-club writing, which I should've seen coming from the book blurbs. Oh well. It was written for a different audience than moi.
The Sunday Book Review
Being my first dystopian book, I was a bit hesitant as to what is what it was all about. I had just learned the meaning of the word several weeks earlier, but I was curious. Let me just say, if this is what dystopia is about, I am hooked.

Nathan has written this book in a way that made it really fun for me to read. It was as if Dewey and I were in a room and he was telling me what was happening as it was happening. Sentences were cut off, thoughts were "at the moment" thoughts and the action was
Beth Cato
May 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery, 2015
The concept of this book is absolutely fascinating: a noir detective novel set in post-apocalyptic New York City. It's gritty, bloody, and profane, with the twists and turns ones except of a dark mystery.

I had major questions from the start, though, when Dewey Decimal (supposedly this efficient hitman) makes a series of juvenile errors. And continues to make them. I didn't want a flawless protagonist, and he certainly still had plenty of other issues--the guy is severely OCD, like Detective Monk
ABC Group
Aug 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Nathan Larson's debut novel was a bit of surprise to me. Akashic has the tendency to produce a lot of books that I like and a handful I'm certainly not into. Larson falls into the former category.

Set in a post 9/11 and post 2/14 world, Dewey Decimal is a maniacal character who suffers from OCD, happens to be a hit man and is certainly one of the oddest characters I've come across in a while.

In some ways, I get the hard boiled crime fiction tags thrown at this book, but this honestly read more
Halsted M. Bernard
Dec 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Halsted by: FunkyPlaid
Shelves: fiction
It may be weird to say that I am a fan of dystopian near-future settings. I have a morbid fascination with bleak, sparse landscapes and crumbling infrastructure; I remain hopeful that I will never have to live in such a world, but constantly wonder what type of person I would be if I survived in one.

In "The Dewey Decimal System", Larson creates an instantly engaging survivor as a protagonist, and a compelling city in ruins around him. Larson's staccato, fragmented style makes this a quick and
Mar 06, 2015 rated it did not like it
I kept reading this thinking somehow it would have some sort of meaning. Never found it.
Apr 16, 2016 rated it liked it
You have to like anything NYC to like this guy.
Cheyenne Allenspach
Sep 05, 2015 rated it did not like it
Hmmm. Didn't really like the way the story was being told. Maybe it was too dispiriting a book for me to enjoy right now, didn't live up to the blurb.
Nik Korpon
Very odd, and very good. Review coming soon.

Full review here.
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This apocalyptic story takes place in New York City after a flu pandemic and terrorist attacks have wiped out the vast majority of the population. It is told through the eyes of Dewey Decimal - a physically and emotionally damaged former soldier who lives in what is left of the main branch of the New York Public Library. To deal with his obsessive compulsive issues and PTSD, Dewey has set himself to re-shelving the books in the NYPL and was thus nick-named Dewey Decimal, which has stuck since he ...more
Jennifer Seyfried
Jul 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Obviously, I picked this up because of the title, not really knowing what to expect, and it somehow wasn't what I expected, but was pretty entertaining nonetheless. The main character, Dewey Decimal (AKA, name redacted), does indeed spend a lot of time in the NY Public Library, as a sort of unofficial caretaker/librarian. NYC has been fairly devastated in the terrorist attacks of 2/14, and as a sufferer of OCD, among other things, Dewey makes the NYPL his base of operations, and does actually ...more
Feb 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Not at all what I through it will be. What I got is a crime busting thriller. The writing is fast and to the point. At times the writing works well with the fast-past action and other times it feels choppy. Especially when transferring from scene to scene.

The Main character Dewey describes himself as mix racial. Has OCD and mix memories, suspecting the government has something to do with it. He set up shop in the New York public library and it his mission to short all the books. The story doesn
Mar 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Actual rating: 3,5/5 stars.

Our protagonist in this dystopian post-terror-attack NYC is of mixed race and has OCD (two bonus points for that). He therefore works in a library resorting all the books according to the Dewey Decimal System (another bonus point). But when he is hired to assassinate somebody due to his forgotten soldier-past which includes possible PTSD, possible darker stuff, things spiral out of his control and his carefully arranged system quickly.

This is a dark and gritty novel,
Aug 09, 2019 rated it liked it
I don't think the ending was consistent with the characterization of Dewey Decimal. But it was fun and mysterious. Someone who likes all the loose ends tied up, though, might be frustrated by this book. We don't really ever find out the objective truth about the plot.
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, thriller
Violent, and sometimes amusing ... and sequels!
May 03, 2018 rated it liked it
And a half.
Aug 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Four stars for concept, two stars for execution. Sad at the wasted potential here.
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Crazy OCD narrator, post-apocalyptic NY City, government traitors.
Dec 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Given the absolutely brilliant setting, there was really no way this novel could ever live up to my hopes. It is set in New York after civilisation has collapsed and most people have fled. The narrator is a mixed race amnesiac former soldier, who lives in a public library, wears suits all the time, and calls himself Dewey Decimal. Clearly this conceit is inspired, but the plot never quite lived up to it. I enjoyed the start, in which Dewey ineptly tried to follow instructions from the DA and got ...more
Sep 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of pulp or dystopian fiction
Our setting: post-apocalyptic New York. "2/14" has supplanted "9/11," although we don't know exactly what happened or why, just that most of the bridges are destroyed and the City is now a sparsely populated ruin of its former self.

Our protagonist: Dewey Decimal. So named because he plans to spend the rest of his days re-organizing the books in the New York Public Library. He gets his supplies from the DA, a recoil-inducing opportunist who sends Decimal out to get rid of inconvenient
Jun 04, 2012 added it
Recommended to Al by: @bibliobede

After a flu pandemic, a large-scale terrorist attack, and the total collapse of Wall Street, New York City is reduced to a shadow of its former self. As the city struggles to dig itself out of the wreckage, a nameless, obsessive-compulsive veteran with a spotty memory, a love for literature, and a strong if complex moral code (that doesn't preclude acts of extreme violence) has taken up residence at the main branch of the New York Public Library on 42nd
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Holy crap. I will be reading the rest of the series.
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Nathan Larson is best known as an award-winning film music composer, having created the scores for over thirty movies, such as Boys Don't Cry, Dirty Pretty Things, and Margin Call. He was deeply involved in the hardcore punk scene in Washington D.C., and in the 1990s, he was the lead guitarist for the influential prog-punk outfit Shudder to Think. THE DEWEY DECIMAL SYSTEM is his first novel, the ...more

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