This book reads more like a YA geekfest rather than the novel as it's advertised. The characters are well-drawn - could be archetypes of all the marginal guys (& gals) from my high school days - marginal because they were brainiacs and mathletes and did not participate, either by choice or by expulsion from the "it" group, in the popular cultural elite du jour.
Yes, it's all about an unusual bookstore but not from an adult's perspective of the store nor from the viewpoint of what happens in the neighborhood. I just felt caged in the mind of a precocious and brilliant teenager - even though the protagonist is way older than that - and was really looking for a book for an older demographic. Which is a convoluted way of saying this was not the book for me.
The writing seemed juvenile and I kept thinking I was reading a Harry Potter book with different settings and different characters.
NOT what I expected AT ALL. Another waste of a credit.
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I didn’t get it.
This may be the most unhelpful review... but I can’t think of anything more to say - it just flew right over my head.
Based on the mostly positive reviews, clearly it was just me.
I loved the beginning of this book. As a long time book geek, the strange bookstore and its mysterious owner is a nerdilicious concept that really got me hooked. But then the story goes to too strange places for me and I lost the feel for it completely. The characters were also quite lost on me as none of them really touched me in the slightest. They're quite flat, bordering on boring, really.
The last third I listened to purely to have finished the book and not quit, just in case it would turn around again. But it didn't.
Great start, but the last half to third really isn't worth the effort. The beginning deserved a better ending.
Sloan's best achievement is to make me want this bookstore to exist every bit as much as he does. It's a great concept and a more than appealing at a wouldn't-it-be-cool level.That said, the story that he weaves in and around that bookstore is simply less inspired. There's the potential for an exploration about hypertextuality and literature, but events move too quickly for that philosophical thread to get much development.
Disappointing. The overall concept is downright magical, but the reveals render it more of a conscious puzzle and less of the unplanned residue of something greater that it originally seems.
Listening to a different book? The narrator was appropriate for the tone of the book, but I found the voices of the other characters jarring. Especially Mr. Penumbra... Is he supposed to sound English?
Never say never, but unlikely.
The narrator's voice was fine for the main character (the book is in the first person; not my favorite format), but all of the other voices seemed very off to me. The voices of all the other characters sound like a caricature voice. But then, most of the characters in the book are also fairly flat caricatures, so it's hard to blame this on just the performance.
The premise of the book sounded exciting and I think for younger age groups (10-14) this would be a great read of listen. But for an adult it falls pretty flat, even as a fluff read.
Did Google pay Robin Sloan to write this book? That's how it reads. I think this book is unfortunately going to age very quickly because of it's overuse of contemporary branded technology. It also relies heavily on stereotypes and caricatures - both of people (super techy "Googlites", eccentric old academics, put-together PR professionals) and of places (San Francisco is described as the laid-back yet super innovative "Venice of our day" while the main villain is a cold-hearted New Yorker - who even REFERS to himself as a cynical New York businessman) to an extent that I find tiresome. If I had been reading this book rather than listening to it, I don't think I could have finished it. Even listening, I struggled to make it through this book.
Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist.
Any book that successfully combines mysterious bookstores, cryptography, a secret society, Google, typefaces, meaningful numbers ($2,357 is brilliant!), and a museum of "Knitting Arts and Embroidery Sciences" gets high praise from me. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is definitely that book. Clay Jannon is an out-of-work art school graduate who finds a job on the night shift in Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Mr. Penumbra (a partial shadow, between regions of complete shadow and complete illumination) is interesting in his own right, but his store full of books from the Waybacklist stored on dusty, multi-storied shelves is where curiosity gets the best of Clay and he begins his adventure. He is aided at every turn by his techie acquaintances, but Sloan uses plenty of humor along with the technology so even those of us over thirty get it.
This is a well-told, fun story, one that made me think a bit and I even learned a few things. I learned that Aldus Manutius was a real Italian printer and publisher who helped develop italic type, and the use of the comma and semicolon. I learned that Griffo Gerritszoon is fictional. I also learned that Robin Sloan is a very clever writer who can tell a good story. My only regret is that I listened to this as an audiobook (Sloan does have a cameo on the audio version) and didn't read the hard cover with the glow-in-the-dark dust jacket!
Who is accomplished enough to claim a critic's eye? Who is as masterful as those who have written for the rest of us to read? When I was a young man, I believed I knew what was better than something else. Now, I am in awe of everything. Now I realize that the older I get, the less I know.
This was a fun listen for younger listeners. But, for a senior like me it was an interesting peek into the mindset of the young in the 21st Century. Google, digital code, fantasy worlds, etc. all were engaged throughout.
Yes, if I were 30 years younger.
I haven't listened to other performances, but I enjoyed this one as he spoke in various voices.
Sure. Another book could continue the fun although the conclusion of the story reveals the folly of the whole quest by the characters involved. There is more to say about quests and the tendency we all have to imagine significance in things that turn out not to be there. It's kind of sad. We all want our dreams to come true. But, there is a lesson there and that could be a starting point for another book.
The strange mix of fictional corporations, historical characters, and fonts with bizarrely overwhelming mentions of GOOGLE GOOGLE GOOGLE annoyed me. Leveraging all of Google's power was a quick way to illustrate some of the efforts, but lauding their cafeteria, management structure and general nerd culture to the degree and pages he devoted to it was unnecessary. The resolution also angered me for reasons I can not describe without "spoilers".
The characters, other than his caricature of a "quirky nerd girl" girlfriend, were likeable. The mystery wasn't really that mysterious, but the natural way the story was told made it feel more friendly and enjoyable.
He does an excellent old man voice.
It could be properly Wes Anderson-ed up to be enjoyable, but it would really depend on the director.
I really tried to finish this book. the story droned on and on. I found myself checking to see how much longer the book was and if I could manage to get through it. I couldn't.... the reader was expressive but it just doesn't capture enough to keep the story from being riddled with too many geeky computer references and irrelevant banter about nothing.