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
I love listening to audibles on my way to work! My long commute has been transformed into a pleasurable journey.
quirky, nerdy, fun
The plot twisted and turned and just when I thought it was over - a new twist began.
Ari really makes this story come alive. Clay has a great sense of humor and self deprivation and Ari captured that well.
Not just a bookstore!
This book had me smiling throughout. Loved the depth of characters and hated for it to end.
Been on/off with Audible since '07, when I found myself long-term in China, desperate for English language books. Love a good story.
The story was great, really snugly written and a fun romp for anyone interested in old books, secret code breaking groups, computers, or history and legacy. The narration is also excellent. This is just a wonderful audiobook, and I finished it too quickly. Recommended! Worth a credit or if it's on sale!
I gave this a high rating , not because of lyrical prose, or depth of thought, or intricate plotting, but because it was a decently crafted. fun story to read. No one died. no one was evil,.no one was deeply hurt. Everything ended well. I like escaping to that world sometimes. If you dont, then I do not recommend this book for you.
A lot of fun! Great characters and story/plot about bridging the old and new.
If you enjoy books and/or technology, you will probably enjoy this book. Also a fun mystery and light romance within the story.
Ari Fliakos narration was very very good... Definitely an enhancement to the entire experience. He brought the characters to life. I would enjoy hearing other books read by him.
This book was a delight to read. A little long and convoluted; but entertaining and fun. Somewhat lightweight--which was actually a nice change of pace from murder and mayhem novels.
This fun, fast paced book reads like a spy thriller. Actually it's more like a nerd thriller. It was a nice blend of high-tech and old world. It was funny and riveting. I couldn't stop listening. Ari Fliakos's narration added a nice touch to the story.
The most interesting aspect of the story are the author's descriptions of everything. The people, what they're wearing, their environments, he gives every element a breath of life. And the comedy is subtle but endearing.
The least interesting part is the plot... I really thought it was going to have some sort of magic in it based on other reviews.. But I was mistaken.
I chose this book on a whim, and was totally entertained both by the story and the narrator. It is a wonderful story blending the value of traditional books and how technology can enhance the reading experience. It can be enjoyed by millenia and baby-boomers like me.
I teach American Literature and am the proud daddy of a 2 year old.
This is a wonderful mashup of mystery, adventure and charm for bibliophiles and lovers of technology. With a likable first person narrator in Clay and a titular character I hope to see more of in the future. You may also find yourself wanting more than a glimpse of the book series within the book that is mentioned repeatedly. Such is the allure of the world in these pages. One hopes Mr. Sloan invites us back into the world of these characters again.
Ari Fliakos gives a wonderful performance of the audiobook. In fact, he's so good, this is the rare audiobook that I can listen to more than once. Listen for a special appearance by the author himself ( and not in the usual preface or afterword sort of way). No, like the rest of the book, Sloan inserts himself into the world of the text-into the life of the book itself-with a nod and a wink. This one is a true delight. You owe it to yourself to spend sometime in Mr. Penumbra's 24- Hour Bookstore. You will be glad you did.
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