This is the third book in the series as well as a short story collection.
The Haruhi Suzumiya universe is a little hard to explain without having watched the anime or read the first book in the series. Basically, Haruhi is an eccentric high school girl who wants to live an exciting life, but gets bored extremely easily -- her goal is to prove the existence of aliens, time travelers, and espers and then have fun with them in order to make the world a much more exciting place. What she doesn't realize is that she manages to collect an alien, a time traveler and an esper into her club, all three of which have a mission to study her and keep her happy for the sake of the world's existence.
In the middle of all of this is Kyon, the narrator of the series who is monotonous, snarky, and your typical lazy high school boy who just wants to be left alone.
The series has interesting concepts, though I'll argue that sometimes the characters can get a bit annoying. Kyon is overly inactive and you wonder sometimes, "Would it hurt you to participate just a little?" He's also a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to wanting what he wants and telling off Haruhi for her own irrational demands. Just because you don't force your actions and wants onto other people, doesn't make your lack of action any more justified. Especially if all you're doing is sitting there and complaining that someone should stand up for the poor Asahina who is the target of Haruhi's torment all the time; but on the sly, you're enjoying the maid costumes and the sexy bunny outfits... etc.
Haruhi is the most stubborn, childish, selfish, unreasonable young girl anyone will ever meet -- but I guess that's supposed to be her charm, and somehow, I'm not put off by her personality anyway. I guess, without her, there would really be no story to tell since she's apparently the person who determines whether or not the world will continue to exist.
The tone of the series' storyline seems to keep me from being too frustrated with the kids in this book. The humor and the nonsensical whims of each story in this series so far keep things interesting. I'm not going to say that this is the best book series in the world, but it certainly isn't the worst and the reading is definitely addictive.
Unfortunately, the four short stories compiled into this book is less than exciting with the exception of the last story, Remote Island Syndrome where a supposed "locked-room" murder mystery takes place. Cute and fun, but predictable. This is one of those instances where, for each of the four stories, I have to admit that the anime did it a little bit better.
Still... this series has its charms and I'm somehow drawn to it. It's gotta be an anime thing. And also, I bought the first six books already, so I have to read them all eventually, right?