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.
It was defiantly an original story line!
Yes! I love "quest" type mysteries. It's like a lighter Dan Brown type mystery without the blood shed!
It was humorous in many places! The main character is such a normal guy, you cent help but love him!
If the opening strains of music in this book give you a little chill and make you wonder if this is actually a techno-Harry Potter, then you are in for a treat, my friend.
I *loved* this story. It takes a while to really get an idea of what's going on, but you are as hapless as the main character, so don't worry. It's quirky, amusing, and very original. I can't recall reading anything else like it, and that for me is a huge plus. I will undoubtedly listen to it again and again in those times when I'm feeling a bit down, and need a good story to lift me up.
I loved it, I will describe it as up front and in the moment ; the performance kept me thoroughly engaged and familiar the same way I felt as the story drew me in. This was beyond the fact that I knew the places that he was talking about in the City first hand. Beyond the fact that "Silicon Valley" in real time is leaking into Silicon Bay Area as well.
I heard the story of the 24 hour bookstore in 24 hours. I could not have waited the 500 odd years that the characters needed to puzzle out the story, but even that bizarre thought makes sense in terms of how rapidly our technology is growing. This book engaged the personal viewpoints towards technology that might be felt as differences in the terms of different generations and brings them together in a lighthearted way where the old and the young both respectively fit in harmoniously, to sort the mystery out. I don't think I have heard an author do that regarding our quantum technological shift. I liked the book because for me it was a thorough distraction from my daily life and at the same time the affirmation it gives is personal in relation. It was lighthearted amusing and very entertaining and HEY is all carried out in non violent language, which in our times is refreshing and hopeful in literature.
I like the end as I feel the characters carry on as familiar friends even after I close the book .
Thank You - Good Listening!
I'm the author of The Home Distiller's Workbook. I'm a geek-prepper-shiner. Currently into Urban Fantasy, Biz and Post Apocalyptic
I don't think the writer could do anything. It's almost a culture issue.
In the bookstore
The book starts with an amazing premise, ends with a whimper and feels like a long rant on why geeks and the people who work at Google are smarter and hence better then the rest of you. Don't get me wrong, I'm actually one of those silicon valley tech types. I have been on campus at Google often and I love eating there ;-) But this book feels like someone who has drank too much of the Google Kook Aid. There is a lot the G crowd gets right but there is also a lot they get wrong.
On top of that the relationship between the protagonist and the girl is totally unhealthy. If you find yourself in a relationship where your SO wants to break up with you because your ideas didn't work out and then is willing to try again because you were proven right? I'm sorry but if all it takes for her to ditch you is for you to have an incorrect hypothesis how long do you expect this to last? He needs to run screaming from this girl, not begging lamely for her to take him back. What is wrong with people who find this sort of behavior OK?
Lastly the story dies with a whimper. It tries to play off everything that is hip and cool about living in SF, I get it, I did that for 10 years. But in the end the pay off does match the build up and all in all it just feels like someone who is trying to justify their own life and not a real story.
Maybe I'm just burned out by too many want to be intellectuals after my years living and working in the bay area. I find way to many people confusing self centeredness with open mindedness and self importance with actual social contributions.
I am an RN with a 40 minute commute 1 way. A perfect excuse to have a good book keeping me company!
I had low expectations for this book. It had been on my "wish list" forever & I finally decided (because it was cheap) to give it a try. I figured if I didn't like it, I would return it and try something else. After all, life is too short to ready crummy books, right?
It was delightful! I was immediately drawn into the characters & the mystery of the 24 hour bookstore. Well written, full of surprises, & and an ending that made sense and closed all the loops!
This book is hard to classify into any specific genre. It is sort of a mystery, sort of techno-fiction (if that's even a real genre) and even has elements of sci-fi and fantasy now and then. But it was so enjoyable, I recommend to anyone who likes to get lost in a story.
I'm surprised no one seems to catch the quirky title!
This is the first fiction book I've read (or listened to) in a long time that I really liked. The title itself grabbed me. How cool would it to have a 24-hour bookstore nearby? And what a name!! The suggestion of a shadow, hinting at a subterranean cult that becomes stronger and until the sun is self-consumed. Gads! I'm beginning to freak out like Clay!
Ari Fliacos was a superb narrator.
A commuter that needs to fill 2 hours a day... with books!
You have probably read some conflicting reviews of whether non-techies should read this. I'll say this - if you are afraid of computer lingo, then this isn't for you. Otherwise, you'll be fine. You don't need to have a lot of knowledge of computers to follow the story. There might be some things that you don't understand, but you won't lose the story if you don't.
This is a GREAT story with a fantastic reader - he fits the tone of the book well. Some of my favorite lines from the book include: "We need James Bond with a Library Science degree!" and "He's Nosferatu as a Marine Corps Sergeant!"
It's lighthearted, but gives you the opportunity to think about some large philosophical issues, if you want to. I laughed out loud several times, and I will listen to this book again. I highly recommend it, regardless of your computer knowledge.
I enjoyed listening to this book, and sometimes reading along on my kindle. I had no idea which direction this book would take and I enjoyed that. It was fun to watch it unfold.
I agree with the reviews that say you have to listen to Ari Fliakos read this little book to get the full effect. It is a charming code-cracking, secret society busting mystery set in San Francisco. It is a juxtaposition of computers and books, e-readers and ancient tomes. Our hero is a failed computer nerd surrounded by a bevy of successful friends when he chances upon a job at a tiny bookstore. He chances upon a deep secret among the dusty volumes and strange characters that fill the shelves and aisles of the narrow store.
Robin Sloan's book is a loving wink at gamers, fantasy book lovers, computer whizzes and collectors of esoterica. For all of us and everyone else, it is well worth a listen.