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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 (2484 )
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4.3 (2235 )
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Tiffany Williston, VT, United States 11-05-12
    Tiffany Williston, VT, United States 11-05-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fun, unusual listen."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teri USA 11-02-12
    Teri USA 11-02-12 Member Since 2011
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    1
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    "A Fun Read!"

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debra Brier, WA, United States 11-01-12
    Debra Brier, WA, United States 11-01-12
    ratings
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    1
    1
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    Story
    "Every book-lovers dream adventure!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    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!


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

    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!


    What about Ari Fliakos’s performance did you like?

    He captured just the right tone...a balance of of youth, skepticism, and belief. I can't imagine any Shakespearian actor doing it better.


    Who was the most memorable character of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore and why?

    Mr. P. himself. Oh, that we could all meet someone like this once in our lives!


    Any additional comments?

    I look forward to the author's next book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emulou 10-28-12
    Emulou 10-28-12 Member Since 2010
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    4
    1
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    "What a fun book"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    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.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I listened to it on a road trip. It was fun. It kept you engaged.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    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
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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
    1
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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 Member Since 2009
    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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    79
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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 Member Since 2010
    ratings
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    3
    1
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    Story
    "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
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    5
    1
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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
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