A gleeful and exhilarating tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life - mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore.
The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone - and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead “checking out” impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore.
With irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan has crafted a literary adventure story for the 21st century, evoking both the fairy-tale charm of Haruki Murakami and the enthusiastic novel-of-ideas wizardry of Neal Stephenson or a young Umberto Eco, but with a unique and feisty sensibility that’s rare to the world of literary fiction. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave, a modern-day cabinet of wonders ready to give a jolt of energy to every curious listener, no matter the time of day.
©2012 Robin Sloan (P)2012 Macmillan Audio
Mr. Penumbra's is a literary piece of bubble gum. A clever premise brings you into the story with great hopes. But one-dimensional characters and a plot that loses momentum produce the same stale taste that you experience with a piece of bubble gum. My mom had books she called beach novels and this book fits the bill. A pleasant simple read while lying on the beach. Easily forgotten once digested. Enjoyable enough but not a big deal when it's over.
The premise had me very interested, but the story quickly became boring with too much focus on cringe "techie" lingo and a flaccid love interest. Mystery and intrigue were seemingly left to the wayside though I had anticipated that they would be the focus of the story. Disappointing and oddly immature especially during the romantic moments. I could not finish, it was just not gripping enough and the characters were too shallow. The narrator was above average.
a decent story with some fairly interesting characters. some funny moments and like maybe 2 exciting moments but that's about it. liked the whole idea and setting but didn't seem MAGICAL enough. just never really hit the mark for me.
Great book where old meets new. the narrator is easy to listen to and the story keeps you thinking. But, I'm pretty sure if I weren't a graphic designer myself I wouldn't understand half the tech terms thrown around in this book. It was a good read but I found myself zoning out alot as the narrator went on explaining all the tools he used on the books.
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
Delightful story - magical, entertaining, well-crafted, with fun twists and turns bringing together the best of antiquities and modern tech-fueled innovations. The reader's delivery is flawless and makes the story come to life.
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