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 book is indescribably amazing. I can't remember the last time I was so happy and so sad to get to the end of a book. The narration only served the book better.
The way they described Google and working for them was great and interesting, but the conclusion to the mystery left much to be desired. He just happens to have a rich friend who can sponsor all of his quests. Everything works out too smoothly for something that no one else could deduce for centuries. He just happens to solve it in like a month. Also, we get it, you used to play dungeons and dragon's. You don't have to reference it every other chapter.
For some odd reason, it would be near the top because I really enjoyed the characters.
This was completely different read for me and I enjoyed the diversion.
Insert witty remark here...
I have to admit, this book's description led me to think this was a spy genre book. And I have to admit that I was wonderfully surprised that the mysteries of this book far exceeded any expectation I had of that of a plot of a simple spy thriller, as this was not that.
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Book Store was exceptionally charming and had that "can't put it down" wondrous anxiety from cover to cover.
Finally, this book was something most books are not: unequivocally fulfilling. When the end came, it was without question complete in every imagination of the word.
It left me with a smile.
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