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
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.
This was a great, light-hearted listen. Techy but cool in a way non techs can understand, especially as pertaining to books. Loved it!
Narration was excellent, distinguishing characters.
It starts like a very fun, good, thriller mystery, that would make you want to continue hearing / reading. Really.
however somewhere before the middle it just loses its way and you don't find the storyline interesting enough to follow anymore...
all the relationships in the book are shallow and lack real feeling.
However the performance is wonderful, I would look for more books by Ari.
If you liked issacson's bio of Steve jobs; if you were delighted by cumbrrbatch's portrayal of Alan Turing; if you liked ready player one; if you have ever thought twice about typefaces; or if you have tried, and enjoyed, coding of any kind, read/ listen to this book and enjoy.
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