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
This is the tale of a man in desperate search for a job finding work in an unusual, 24 hour bookstore. There aren't many customers, but the returning customers are always strange, and Clay Jannon has to not only sell books, but also write about what each unusual customer says and does.
The mystery deepens as Clay uses modern technology and the help of his friends and a sexy Google employee to learn why Mr. Penumbra's bookstore is so unusual. The trip takes them to NYC and Nevada and to Google itself to solve the mystery.
I enjoyed this book. There was some techno-talk, but not enough that it was over a newbie's head, and tales of bookstores are always a fun read. This isn't a long book, but it's long enough. Robin Sloan paces the story well and there are twists and turns aplenty to keep you guessing if they will ever solve the mystery of Mr. Penumbra's bookstore.
After living, breathing, and falling utterly in love with all of the Joe Ledger books and Ray Porter's narration for the past couple of months, and then moving on to being scared out of my wits each night by Hell House only so that I could hear more of Ray Porter's voice, I needed something light (while I wait for the next Joe Ledger book to be released, of course..).
Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore fit the bill in more ways than one. I am hitting on 56 years old, and tend to be a bit geekish, and while some have said this book seems geared towards young adults, I found it absolutely delightful. Some passages actually made me laugh out loud. Ari Fliakos' narration of the book was spot-on and flawless. Really glad I found this book and I now have a new narrator to keep an eye on. Well done!
Very much so! Because the best books not only let our imagination fly and join the fun, but they give us gentle truths to take away when they are finished. This book does that in several chapters, and, of course, in the end. What a great mystery!
I stayed up waaaay too late listening. It was well worth the sleep loss. And I'm not telling "how"....you'll have to find out yourself!
He captured just the right tone...a balance of of youth, skepticism, and belief. I can't imagine any Shakespearian actor doing it better.
Mr. P. himself. Oh, that we could all meet someone like this once in our lives!
I look forward to the author's next book!
I would definately recommend this book. I just recommended it to my sister for her book club. It gets a little techy sometimes but I told her not to worry it eventually all makes sence even if you aren't familiar with computer jargen.
I like all the characters. They all had some such original character. If I had to choose a favorite though, it would be Mr, Penumbra. He is so gentle and wise I love how he makes other people feel about themselves.
I listened to it on a road trip. It was fun. It kept you engaged.
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.
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.
I loved Everything about this book! Wonderful settings, characters with depth & quirkiness, the combination of technology and ancient texts.....
There was a continuous gentle undercurrent of excitement, and occasional suspense.
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.
I could never choose ~ I want to be at a dinner party with ALL of them!! They are all so intriguing and believable. :)
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.
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!
Never heard him before.
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".
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.
He does an excellent old man voice.
It could be properly Wes Anderson-ed up to be enjoyable, but it would really depend on the director.
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