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
If you're into speculative fiction and you enjoy geek-culture references, this is a definite must read. Light and entertaining, Penumbra is a perfect, pleasant escape.
A love of reading has been replaced by an addiction to Audible. Financier by day, my nightly window to the world is ever-expanding.
I enjoyed listening to the narrator navigate through the author's enciteful observations, yet I expected and genuinely wanted more from the storyline's climax. I wouldn't hesitate recommend this book because of the dialogue which kept me entertained throughout.
I enjoyed the premise of this book . . . bookstores and mysteries and hapless characters bending the rules and discovering secrets . . . all good stuff. But it read like juvenalia to me: the characters and their concerns and what they said to one another didn't rise to the level of the surrounding premise. Too little, it seemed, was at stake, and the children solving the mystery and challenging the old order seemed to have nothing to offer in exchange of similar import . . .
A reader & writer. I like non-fiction science, tech, bios, history, & politics - and fiction literature, mystery, spec, sci fi, & fantasy.
This book is based on our endless curiosity and need for meaning. In the sense that the book promises to answer so much, one might think it is condemned to failure. And the book's seeming overreach is a nagging issue throughout.
But it's also very rewarding in its language, ideas, characters, and twisted plot. Ultimately it succeeds in taking us someplace that does have meaning. And for me, the journey and its end were both quite worthwhile. The book has charm and wit and was worthy of the time spent. I might have given it a 4.3 or something similar, but here immediately following the conclusion, and considering how well read this was, and even the occasional clever production devices, I gave it five stars. Enjoy.
This book filled every nook of my favorite reads. There's mystery surrounding the bookstore and its customers, or lack thereof. A little romance, some exciting adventure, historical reference and the marvels of technology. The story is fast paced, and the narrator does an excellent job of imbuing the words with appropriate emotion.
I found this book to be a delightful listen. I think it is absolutely worth a credit and has been excellent company on my various short road trips this past week.
I was worried that “24-Hour Bookstore” would be surreal and highbrow. It isn’t. It’s a straight-up modern mystery built on a clever premise. The characters are fun but not very deep. And Google is quite well placed product-wise.
the main character's internal dialogue provides a bright, humorous backdrop to this tale of ancient secrets and secret societies in an age dominated by computers and technology.
Another Audible Addict
No, I really do not understand this book. I guess I didn't know it was a "Matrix" kind of story (I guess).
I am very lost and feel stupid for not getting it. It seems like it could be great. Good writing characters and narration, but for the storyline, which was too "out there".
I didn't know it was of this genre, of which I already was turned off.
This is not really a book of scenes, it's very abstract, ideas in the mind.
If I had to say, I guess I was surprised when the main character goes to work to find the bookstore closed.
Possibly. Someone who plays a more "nerdy" role.
Would ask for a return but it was already discounted.
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