Black Belt Librarian
I'm glad that I chose to listen to this book as opposed to reading it. Ari Fliakos' narration was enjoyable--and the story was really fun. I know this is one I'll be listening to again.
Actual score 3.5. I couldn't help but be charmed by the character of Mr. Penumbra and his tall, tall bookstore, but the technology angle wasn't my favorite. Although, I did appreciate the idea that the "old" and the "new" should co-exist and do, ultimately, complement each other.
a bit complicated at times but a great modern quest story with quirky characters and a good reader
The audio books I get tend to be either 1) scifi or 2) things for my husband and me to listen to on long road trips--humor or history
This book is a mash-up of so many things, it shouldn’t work, but it does. Role-playing games, epic fantasy lit, codebreaking, Dan Brown thrillers and tons of other references abound. The author somehow mixes all this with an appealing protagonist, a cast of characters worthy of any epic fantasy (or dungeon crawl) and comes out with a highly enjoyable novel.
[I listened to this as an audio book read by Ari Fliakos, who channels Wil Wheaton while doing justice to the humor and nerdliness of the story without going overboard. Would recommend listening at 1.25 speed.]
This book was charming. It is part ode to bookstore and those that love them, paired with a zest for technology and new ways of accessing knowledge. Sure, this book will seem very dated with all its talk of Google and Wikipedia in a few years, but at heart its message will remain. Life is a good story, an adventure, and you need to share all its twists and turns with a few good friends. It reads a bit like YA despite the ages of the main characters. The combination of the book's affable, laid back "dude" nerdiness set against its fantastical adventure/quest plotline reminded me of Ready Player One, 14, and John Dies At The End. It's a dude book, and a geek book, yet oddly sentimental at the end. It seem ingenuous and sincere. I think the fantastic audiobook narration by Ari Fliakos really helped draw me into the book.
I didn't know what to make of this book at first. But as I got into the meat, I found a very entertaining story about books. Yes, that's right. A book about books. As one who has loved books for as long as I can remember, I could appreciate what Clay Jannon and Ajax Penumbra were going through.
The plot is a simple one. Clay Jannon, with the ink still wet on his graphic design degree, works for only a short time before becoming a statistic in the recent recession. He goes through the normal progression of job hunting: find something in my field; find something I have the skills for; find something I wouldn't mind doing; find something that isn't illegal; start re-defining "illegal." Almost by chance. as he is walking the streets of San Francisco, he comes across Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore with a help wanted sign in the window. He steps inside to inquire and steps out with a job on the midnight shift. He thought Mr. Penumbra to be a little strange, but a job was a job.
After working in the store for a few weeks, he wondered how it stayed in business. Hardly any customers bought anything and there was a group who came in regularly and would exchange books, similar to a library. Clay found out that these regulars were members of a literary "cult" called the Unbroken Spine, and it was for them that the store truly existed. Partly out of concern for his own job security and partly out of his growing fondness for Mr. Penumbra, Clay immerses himself into the enigma know as the Unbroken Spine. Clay enlists the help of his motley crew of friends and acquaintances, each having their own special talents, to find answers to the secrets the group had sought for centuries.
To tell more of the plot may spoil the story. But coming through loud and clear was the love of books. Old books, new books, and electronic books. There are people on both sides of the e-book revolution stating their cases. In the end, it will be we the readers to make the final determination as to the future of printing. Clay recalls the book he most loved as a child, The Dragonsong Chronicles, and the influence it had own his growth and development. It helped him forge lasting friendships and brought hours of joy to his life.
I own and e-reader and it serves its purpose. I can take hundreds of books with me when I travel in the space of a small paperback. But there is something about holding that book in your hands, smelling the paper and glue, and looking at the type printed on the page. That can never be reproduced electronically. And as Robin Sloan has discovered, books give their authors a little taste of immortality.
I usually don't write reviews but this book was a lovely surprise. Started just a wee slow but then the characters and story came about. The story was a engaging and thought provoking at times. Nice characters and intriguing little mystery
It was an okay book with a combination of the surreal and structured electronic world. Interesting topic and the plot went downhill as the characters were too spread out and none really developed any depth. Somehow Google and Immortality and cult were in a the same sentence. Also, the leading female character sucks....
It was refreshingly up to date with modern technologies and it was pleasant that the author didn't try to obscure the involved companies. Lots of fun.
Two worlds existing at the same time. An ancient odd bookshop and the tech world of Google. The customers of the bookstore are mysterious; who are they and why do they want the books from the back? There is a mystery to be solved and Google employees are quickly trying to solve the problem with high tech to protect Mr. Penumberbra and preserve his bookstore. I enjoyed the characters and the creative story. College students digging deep to discover an ancient secret.