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Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel | [Robin Sloan]

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel

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....
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Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (2831 )
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4.3 (2544 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Cathy Rodgers 12-30-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Magical and Entertaining"
    If you could sum up Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore in three words, what would they be?

    Magical, funny, interesting.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Clay's sense of humor made him my favorite character.


    What does Ari Fliakos bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I loved the way Ari read this story. The different voices were entertaining. But the rhythm he used to read the story really held my attention.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I laughed out loud.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ruth BUTTE, MT, United States 12-30-12
    Ruth BUTTE, MT, United States 12-30-12 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
    ratings
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    48
    26
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    4
    Overall
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    Story
    "On my favorite book list."

    I don't read or listen to much fantasy or sci fi, but this was an awesome book. I chose it because Ari Fliakos was the narrator and am so glad that I did. Every character was a treat.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura ON, ON, Canada 12-20-12
    Laura ON, ON, Canada 12-20-12 Member Since 2009
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great listen!"

    I thought I would listen to this based on the reviews and I was not disappointed. In fact I was pleasantly surprised. The story has enough suspense to keep you wanting to hear more. The story is a good combination of past and present and sends a nice message without being too obvious. I would definitely listen to another of Robin Sloan's works.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    GP 12-13-12
    GP 12-13-12 Member Since 2011

    amboise

    HELPFUL VOTES
    58
    ratings
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    218
    31
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Absolutely, positively loved it!"

    It's rare that I find a book this enjoyable. Quirky, yet believable, characters at the leading edge of today intersect with yesterday's kindle, i.e. the printing press. . I don't want to delve into the story and give away any spoilers, if you're excited by technology, and a fan of the written word, enjoy a bit of a quest without the blood sports, then this is your book.
    The reader was also excellent.
    I think I had a grin on my face, not to mention a few laugh out loud moments, throughout the story. Once again, loved it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin 12-12-12
    Robin 12-12-12

    Hi all. I'm in my 50's (that's relevant, i think), and I favor fiction. I like the british sensibility, and was introduced to the Forsyte Saga through audible ... loved it! I happen to also like Chinese writers, but they are not well represented yet at audible. Looking to follow readers with similar tastes ...

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    97
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    "fun listen, but not as good as the hype"

    i would recommend this book, although as a fun read, nothing more (and there's nothing wrong with a fun read!). the narration was so-so. i was left with the feeling that the author did not do as much as he or she could have with such a clever idea.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Caroline Morgan South Africa 12-11-12
    Caroline Morgan South Africa 12-11-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Geeky, literate, clever, magical"
    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Kat Potente - geek girls are cool :)


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The first entry of the group into the "library" in New York.


    Any additional comments?

    This book made me think about the future - particularly the harnessing of collective human intelligence by means of a game, to solve the world's problems.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Pedersen NJ, USA 12-09-12
    A. Pedersen NJ, USA 12-09-12 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent Story, Well Told"

    This story is very interesting to listen to. The narrator does an excellent job of capturing most of the characters. The story itself is well written and the pacing is good.

    If you're interested in technology, then this story will speak to you directly. If not, the mystery itself may interest you.

    The only weakness to this tale is the very end. I don't want to give anything away, but it feels like the author is in a bit too much of a rush to wrap everything up. Even so, the ending is still satisfying.

    Personally, I group this book with Ready Player One. That isn't because they are exactly the same, but the mystery and focus on technology means if you like one you will probably like the other. Plus Ready Player One is narrated by Wil Wheaton. What's not to like?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Whitehall, PA, United States 12-09-12
    Scott Whitehall, PA, United States 12-09-12 Member Since 2014

    Short and sweet reviews, Allentown pa

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not bad"

    It's a decent listen. It's hard to be original, this is defnitely a fresh idea of a book.
    The narrator is terrific.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer Georgia 12-08-12
    Kindle Customer Georgia 12-08-12 Member Since 2011

    Victoria

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    5
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    "Clever story, well read."

    Laughed out loud several times and was totally won over by this quirky story. Don't be put off with the title, it's a charming book with surprising elements, winning characters, and a plot that keeps you listening long after you need to turn it off.



    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristin Echols Elk Grove, CA USA 12-07-12
    Kristin Echols Elk Grove, CA USA 12-07-12 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    89
    2
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    Story
    "The story of a font"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This is the best book I've listened to all year. Funny and surprising, it had elements of art, science, technology and literature.


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    While enjoying the story, I kept wondering where it could be going. Google, dragon songs, Ruby, typefaces...how is it all connected?


    What about Ari Fliakos’s performance did you like?

    Ari's performance was great. I loved the way his speech would quicken when Clay was excited, or quiet when he was sneaking around. The voices he used for the other characters were all distinct.


    If you could take any character from Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    I'd like to have dinner with Kat...at Google. A glimpse into the world that is Google....


    Any additional comments?

    This is obviously a story of our time...there's a mention of Fruit Ninja.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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