I don't really get the hype for this book. I felt like I had skipped something. The narrator was okay, but occasionally his voice got annoying, shrill when he was trying to show excitement. Maybe teenagers would like the book and it is just not one that can bridge it's genre gap.
Couldn't even make it to the end on this one. Why? Because I gave up caring about halfway through how it turned out. The characters turn into such caricatures that you just can't get invested in what they are doing or how the whole thing ends up. It would have to get a serious rewrite to get to 4 stars. This started as a short story and then somehow it got made into a book. It's painfully obvious that it was a short story originally as the characters just peter out after the first couple chapters. There's nothing else to them. They don't develop, they don't change- they are fully done within the chapter they are introduced in. The author clearly doesn't have enough in him to flesh out a book.
I have to wonder how old the folks giving this 4-5 stars are. Unless you're a teenager or college student who thinks name-dropping gadgets or tech companies every couple paragraphs and referring to things in the context of role-playing adventures constantly is good plot building, this book is not for you. Google and a macbook are pretty much main characters by chapter 10. The authors likes to prominently mention he used to work at twitter in all his interviews and blurbs and after making it even partway through this mess, you just want to mentally asterisk that with "* But I really really wish I'd landed a job at Google."
I'm not sure this book even has a genre- bad tech stories?
The reader has a fairly limited range - stereotypical cali, stereotypical sorta surfer and old guy. You couldn't always distinguish who was speaking. Performance didn't really lend anything to the book.
Google! The author seems to believe it's a magical place where everyone is happy and everyone is a genius. Knowing someone who works there will in fact solve all your problems. He actually refers to people as Googlers and non-Googlers. It's idiotic.
If you were born after 1980, believe that computers can do everything, and worship Google with awe and reverence then this story may be for you. This novel grew from a story posted on a website.
Tone reminds me of other books, written by persons of probably a similar age (under 35) - sort of an innocent voice, non-judgmental to the point of utter blandness. Don’t these people have opinions? Reactions? Dark thoughts of injustice and prejudice? I guess not. Political correctness is embedded in their DNA, apparently. Neither do they make mistakes or have setbacks. Maybe it’s wish fulfillment, but it seems like the general attitude of that generation is that things will work out for them just because.
The rest of the book is one big ad for how great Google is, despite every server in their universe not being able to crack a basic substitution code. And despite the massive build-up and the fervid paranoia of the Unbroken Spine, the secret turns out to be not so much after all. Kat takes it hardest which was amusing. Her first ‘no’. She didn’t deal with it very well.
Eh, I don’t know. I wasn’t overly annoyed while reading this book and picked it up for a palate cleanser, but I wasn’t fulfilled by it either. No deep secrets. No big reveal. The plot, on the surface, seemed complex, but wasn’t. Bland characters. No violence or dirty deeds. I guess if you like saltines, you’ll like this.
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
I would, if I hadn't already read the print version before listening to the audiobook. I chose to "re-read" it in audio format because I had succumbed to the charms of the book in print and thought that it would make for an entertaining and illuminating listen. I was not wrong.
The book is about the collision of worlds rooted in radically different technologies -- the power of the printing press throughout the centuries to immortalize literature and literary figures and readers vs. the power of present-day supercomputing to provide virtually every bit of human knowledge at the point of a fingertip. Interesting stuff. But as in any good work of literature, the characters are what really makes the book come alive.
It really should be Mr. Penumbra, the "shadowy" owner of the bookstore who strives to bridge "old knowledge" with modern-day computing. But he is too flighty -- literally, at the end, when he flees and leaves things up to Clay, the narrator. He never rises to the level of Dumbledore or Gandalf as the book's resident wizened old wise man. It could be Kat Potente for someone like me, a male reader, who could grow as easily enamored of her quirky, meta-geeky combination of beauty and brains as Clay is.
But in the end, I have to go with Clay himself. True to his name, he allows himself to be molded by the overachievers surrounding him, without ever resenting his role as everyone's everyman. But he breezily molds his own story far too often for him to be just a passive narrator -- he is the driver of this car. It may be too facile at times, the speed at which he uncovers solutions to insurmountable problems, but who cares? He is so engaging and resourceful that we want him to succeed, and the book is so easygoing that we do not want him to get mired down in failure.
When Clay and Kat are first starting to click, Kat invites him to a party at her house, but he can't go because he has to man the overnight shift at the bookstore. So he attends via video chat, with Kat carrying a computer image of his disembodied head around the party. Much clever banter that solidifies these two charismatic characters.
Analog Adventures in a Digital World
The good news in this battle of the titans is that no one loses. If you're a book lover, you'll always have the option of reading a hard copy, even with the proliferation of e-books and audiobooks. You can always choose to take advantage of all worlds, as I do, reading books (on e-book in tight spaces) and listening to the best of them on audio.
No matter where you go, there you are.
The generation of video game players and other techno-beasts is aging. Whether they are becoming adults, as in reality-based productive citizens remains to be seen. Corporate-based cults like Google-ites tend to scare me as the charm and super-reality presumed by the cultist of this religion-like fervor, can lead it's minion down a rosy path to nowhere. Meanwhile, Google and their ilk are soaking up information on all of us, from our buying patterns to our political affiliations, and using them to who knows what end. The characters that control this data (and its eventual impact on our lives) are controlled by whom exactly? They are rich beyond having normal tethers to reality, and powerful enough to effect QOL issues for EVERYONE!
And that makes me more than a bit uncomfortable. The General Motors and General Electrics of the past simply wanted to monopolize their markets and control the political decision makers via Lobbyi$t$, while making ungodly amounts of cash. But at least they made some helpful things along the way. Now the world is controlled by a class of wealthy game players, that discussed their thievery as 'investment vehicles' that benefit a small few, while making exactly nothing useful.
Now we have the notion of 'belonging' to something as meaningless as a cult or religion, that pays us very well to do who knows what for who knows whom. All this brainpower would be better exploited in science and medicine, aimed at improving the quality of our lives without disturbing the natural environment in which we survive.
Penumbra's tale is an old one, but the setting here is not a creepy little bookstore. It is a masterful manipulation of many of our brightest young minds, a story from which we get very little, if anything.
Unlikely to read other Robin Sloan books.
The characters were shallow & hard to care about.
He was ok.
Not really. Seemed like a story I'd like but it wasn't very interesting.
I always find it hard to write a review for a book I really loved because I can't find the right words to describe my listening experience, but suffice it to say I really enjoyed this book and I have already suggested it to a friend.
Some of the reviews warned that this book was a little too "tech-y" but I didn't think it was beyond anyone's comprehension. When it came down to things like that I didn't try to understand every little piece but instead simply let myself be amazed by what we can do with technology now.
At heart, this is a fun novel about an adventure to uncover the secrets of an ages-old underground society. This was definitely the fastest I ever listened to an audiobook because I couldn't wait to hear how it ended. I was pleasantly surprised by Ari Fliakos. I didn't think I was going to like his narration that much, but I think his range of voices was fantastic and I would never hesitate to buy a book narrated by him.
The great story premise and synopsis led me to believe I was getting an urban fantasy with fascinating characters drawn into strange happenings at a mysterious bookstore that is more than it appears to be. Instead I got something like Ready Player One with Google worship and modern technobabble in place of 80s trivia and nerd wish fulfillment ruining what could have been a great plot. I wish the person who wrote the synopsis had also written the novel.