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 absolutely loved this book! It's unique story captured my intrigue immediately and held it until the very end. I love how nicely and it wrapped up as well. Highly recommend it!
This book was charming. It is part ode to bookstore and those that love them, paired with a zest for technology and new ways of accessing knowledge. Sure, this book will seem very dated with all its talk of Google and Wikipedia in a few years, but at heart its message will remain. Life is a good story, an adventure, and you need to share all its twists and turns with a few good friends. It reads a bit like YA despite the ages of the main characters. The combination of the book's affable, laid back "dude" nerdiness set against its fantastical adventure/quest plotline reminded me of Ready Player One, 14, and John Dies At The End. It's a dude book, and a geek book, yet oddly sentimental at the end. It seem ingenuous and sincere. I think the fantastic audiobook narration by Ari Fliakos really helped draw me into the book.
I don't read a lot of sci-fi or futuristic authors but I found this enjoyable charming and believable. The characters are mostly flat but in an enjoyable way that lends itself to a full story. The word Google does appear an extraordinary number of times in the story but the presence of the Company is tasteful propaganda. The narration is good and adds to the story.
Filled with lovely characters (albeit conveniently stereotypical for a Silicon Valley based story) and a wonderful charm (akin to Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium) the book whisks you along on a a delightful ride. Sit back and enjoy.
Jolly good fun! I was sorry when it ended as the teller of our tale does so with exuberance and fun. You simply want him to lead you on this journey with his positive and infectious gift of story sharing! The best hidden things are openly displayed and not seen!
A mixture of mystery and fantasy...it isn't a heavy read, but it is a story that isn't formulaic and a fun way to pass the time on my long runs.
A quick light read perfect for a lazy summer weekend.
The story is interesting enough to keep you reading, although the pay-off is a bit underwhelming.
I've never read the book - the audio version was my first experience - and I must say - thoroughly enjoyed it. At times I wanted to speed through the book while at the same time not wanting to end the experience. Loved it so much I purchased copies for my techie brothers!
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