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 Sequel survey reminded me that I need a followup book to this one. LOVED the book. Quirky, funny, fascinating book. As far as I'm concerned, any book that involves books in the story is fine by me, and this one is really the Bomb.
I am beginning all of my reviews with a rating like movies. I give this title a G/PG rating. There were only 2 expletives and only mild. There was no sex. This is not the usual type of book I listen to, however I really liked it. It was fun and lighthearted. It was not as "nerdy" as other reviewers have stated. My husband and I (60 and 55 years of age) enjoyed it as we drove along on a road trip.
This is a modern day fantasy and detective story rolled into one. I think the story would appeal to young adults but also to adults open enough to enjoy the fantasy. The narration was excellent.
I listen to audiobooks.
Enjoyable, informative, clever, entertaining. Captures a niche of modern culture. Pleasant tale, told well enough.
I will check out other audio books by this author and by the narrator.
I fell in love with this novel and the telling of it, all its little intricacies and details seemingly crafted to fit snugly around me and proclaim, "here is a little something made just for you!" Perhaps I'm actually unique and special in this way, though undoubtedly there are countless others who will experience the self-same joy and wonder with Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore. I do not begrudge them this experience, not in the least.
The performance is excellent. The characters are delightful. The quest could be life changing. But, the tale is enjoyable from start to finish!
Could not get in to this one. Tried several times but, it is just not catching me.
It's not often that I pick up a book and have no idea where the story is going. It ended up in my library based on a sale and high praise from some reviewers that I follow, but it was not at all what I expected (and that was a good thing).
I had gone in expecting some sort of sword-and-sorcery or Merlin-in-Manhattan thing. If it had been, it would probably have been entertaining. The author could have easily gone there with very little work. However, it turned out to be something different and very intriguing. You'll find yourself looking at those little mom-and-pop bookshops in an entirely different light after reading this.
I won't post any spoilers or specifics, but I will say that the story is entirely plausible, well constructed, highly engaging and (to the best of my knowledge) unlike any other. It reads like a good mystery/adventure and hints at sci-fi/fantasy without actually crossing over.
I didn't initially take to Ari Fliakos's performance. It just seemed unremarkable. However, by the second or third chapter, I was sold. Of course, I was just coming off a Wil Wheaton narration, so it just may have been the contrast in styles that put me off.
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