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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 (2351 )
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4.3 (2118 )
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Performance
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  •  
    lorraine West Valley City, UT, United States 10-26-12
    lorraine West Valley City, UT, United States 10-26-12 Member Since 2011

    rainwallace

    HELPFUL VOTES
    72
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    "Old timey bookstore filled with mystery w/o Blood"

    I loved this story, historic, fun, whimsical with an old timey bookstore without many patrons run throughout the night. The story leads our hero back and forth from the world of ancient book clubs trying to decipher immortality to Googlers basically trying for the same outcome. There's no bodies but plenty of non-violent thrills. A pleasure to hear.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mitchell Germantown, MD, United States 10-25-12
    Mitchell Germantown, MD, United States 10-25-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A charming and wonderful story"

    Robin Sloan has brought a wonderful story to life and it is narrated perfectly in this audio version. I wouldn't change a thing. This one is highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    susie North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 10-19-12
    susie North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 10-19-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Utterly engaging!"
    What did you love best about Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore?

    I loved Everything about this book! Wonderful settings, characters with depth & quirkiness, the combination of technology and ancient texts.....


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

    There was a continuous gentle undercurrent of excitement, and occasional suspense.


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

    His voice characterizations were so varied, there was never a doubt 'who' was speaking. He was completely charming, and a fantastic choice for this book. Perfect narration, just perfect.


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

    I could never choose ~ I want to be at a dinner party with ALL of them!! They are all so intriguing and believable. :)


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Becky N W Arkansas 10-19-12
    Becky N W Arkansas 10-19-12 Member Since 2003
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    78
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    "A WILD RIDE!!"

    Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is just a great story. When the main character Clay finds himself in Mr Penumbra's strange world he embarks on a wonderful journey. He makes friends and solves mysteries with technology and his own sometimes surprising resourcefulness. The narrator is a wonderful fit for the main character and brings the story to life. I would recommend to anyone who just likes to get caught up in the ride of a lighthearted and funny adventure.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Renee Owings Mills, MD, United States 10-17-12
    Renee Owings Mills, MD, United States 10-17-12
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    "Disappointed listen after reading other reviews!"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Maybe it is me but I am an avid reader and audio listener and didn't really find this story compelling or interesting. Most of the stories I choose to read,I really enjoy. Not this time. I like to complete what I begin but was not looking forward to listening to this story in the least. The narrator was fine. It was really the substance of the book!


    Have you listened to any of Ari Fliakos’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Never heard him before.


    Was Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore worth the listening time?

    No.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeremiah Britt Washington, DC 10-15-12
    Jeremiah Britt Washington, DC 10-15-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Felt like a novella wrapped around a Google ad."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The strange mix of fictional corporations, historical characters, and fonts with bizarrely overwhelming mentions of GOOGLE GOOGLE GOOGLE annoyed me. Leveraging all of Google's power was a quick way to illustrate some of the efforts, but lauding their cafeteria, management structure and general nerd culture to the degree and pages he devoted to it was unnecessary. The resolution also angered me for reasons I can not describe without "spoilers".


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    The characters, other than his caricature of a "quirky nerd girl" girlfriend, were likeable. The mystery wasn't really that mysterious, but the natural way the story was told made it feel more friendly and enjoyable.


    What about Ari Fliakos’s performance did you like?

    He does an excellent old man voice.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    It could be properly Wes Anderson-ed up to be enjoyable, but it would really depend on the director.


    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Evelynne Robertson Montreal 10-15-12
    Evelynne Robertson Montreal 10-15-12 Member Since 2012

    When reviewing books I try to be fair; I appreciate that not everyone will be looking for the same things in a book.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Fun Read"

    I found this a fun listen and particularly enjoyed Ari Fliakos's performance. It did strike me how dated this book is, in the sense that it referred to very current companies and markets. It was fun to listen to it today, but I'm not certain how much longevity the book will have because of this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Lakeville, MA, United States 03-27-13
    Susan Lakeville, MA, United States 03-27-13 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Pulled the plug."
    What disappointed you about Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore?

    Slow and boring. I could not keep my attention on the story. I finally decided that I did not have to torture myself and finish it.


    What could Robin Sloan have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Too much detail about computers and the workings of such that slowed the story down and confused me.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Yes.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore?

    I got as far as the description of the software program that replicates boobs and I decided that I had had it and I quit. Was this book written for 13-year old computer geeks?


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lauren Chicago, IL, United States 01-15-13
    Lauren Chicago, IL, United States 01-15-13 Member Since 2011

    I guess I'm a baby...I just love to be read to.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Huh???"

    I liked the narration which is why I stuck with it but this book has left me wondering...huh? Make sure you are into techy type talk before downloading this book. It's sort of tech meets sci-fi meets indie. I liked the first half of the book but it jumped the shark mid-way and lost me.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maryam MERRITT ISLAND, FL, United States 07-29-13
    Maryam MERRITT ISLAND, FL, United States 07-29-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Best. Reader. Ever."

    The story was pretty good, kinda fun, worth the credit. The performance, on the other hand, was spectacular! By far the best reader that I've listened to thus far. The only book I've listened to where I agree with the term "performance."

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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