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
Great story and characters. Kept my attention riveted from start to finish! What a lucky find. And it would be appropriate for teenagers as well as adults.
Very good story. Very good narration voice.
Several areas of the audio book were not in the actual printed book. I was following along in my Kindle App and suddenly the audio version is yet reading but the read text was not in my Kindle book? At least 2 occasions. Likely more, as I listened without reading more than doing both.
Great narration. The story moves along at a great pace.
I am thoroughly impressed with this author's ability to create such a web of depth to the plot in such a tight narrative.
Well Done By All.
At first I really enjoyed the mystery of this novel. I wanted to figure out what the secret behind the bookstore was. But I felt that once the book revealed the big secret, it was a huge letdown. For comparison, I felt the "big reveal" in The Florentine Deception (another techno-themed adventure) was much more plausible and thought-provoking. That said, The Florentine Deception is a bit more hard boiled than this book (at least in its second half), so I'm not sure it's a perfect comparison.
I wished the "big reveal" was a much better thought out and more substantial/plausible. It's like we were waiting for this really interesting mystery to be revealed and it turned out to be a bunch of techno-babble.
I enjoyed the narrator - he brought a good energy to the book.
No. This was a self-contained story, and given the cheesy conclusion, I wouldn't be interested in a follow-up.
Original, Engaging, Fun
It went in a direction I wasn't anticipating
not really, I liked all of it.
I had no idea where this book was going and so I was waiting for the next plot twist right up to the end.
Rachelle Mee-Chapman, Urban Abbess
Enjoyed the quirky performer. Found the storyline too far fetched. Nice settings, likeable characters, poor ending.
Wonderful tale of the strength of friendship and the oftentimes magical joy of a good read.
Wonderfully narrated. Really good job on the voices, brought the characters to life. Felt I could easily discern between head voice and spoken voice.
Too often there's a great book read poorly, or a poor book read well. But this is a great book read by an outstanding narrator. I will probably venture outside my usual genres to listen to other books by the same reader.
This book is very entertaining, specially the first part when all the characters are being discovered and presented by the main character. The story tries and somewhat succeeds in solving the intriguing "what is the future of the book" question and also the way in which we, as a race, will come to share knowledge in the years to come. But it is also a detective story, not very strong, but very funny and entertaining. Young adults will like the references to today's leading internet companies and more mature readers will be delighted with all historic references and the way the writer jokes about his own storyline.
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