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
I am 63. This story is able to weave together lively characters ranging from oldsters like me to dungeon and dragon, Google Twitter, kale juice/arugula salad modern types into a common cause solving a mystery. It will capture your interest and make you want to sit in your car just to keep listening. Satisfying ending. A GOOD listen.
This is a surprisingly good story, written well with superb narration. I particularly enjoyed how contemporary Google is brought into the storyline of a 500 year old book cult.
The narrator, Ari Fliakos, was fantastic. I loved his voice and his enthusiasm as he narrated this fun fantasy about the goings on in a mysterious little bookshop in San Francisco. It a combination of nerdiness and gothic mystery with a sweetness that I found delightful.
Reading and knitting go together
This is one of the most charming books I've read in the past year.
Mr. Penumbra is weird and kind.
I'm pretty sure I actually laughed out loud several times, which is a big deal. (I can thank both the author and the narrator for this.) The story is fun, well-written, and refreshing. Overall, the book's tone is light, but it raises some interesting questions about technology, books, and mortality, which I think adds a lot to the story.
The narrator, as I already mentioned, really did add to my experience of story. Ari Fliakos truly put on a performance, complete with different voices for the various characters. All of the voices seemed to fit the characters, too, which is important. Definitely recommend!
It was refreshingly up to date with modern technologies and it was pleasant that the author didn't try to obscure the involved companies. Lots of fun.
Two worlds existing at the same time. An ancient odd bookshop and the tech world of Google. The customers of the bookstore are mysterious; who are they and why do they want the books from the back? There is a mystery to be solved and Google employees are quickly trying to solve the problem with high tech to protect Mr. Penumberbra and preserve his bookstore. I enjoyed the characters and the creative story. College students digging deep to discover an ancient secret.
If you want to fun book to listen to, but don't want to have to really listen hard in case you miss a detail then this is the book for you!
Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore started off a little slow but then picked up momentum. It has all the elements you could ever want in a book but on a smaller scale...mystery, poking fun of yourself and other people, making fun of the big man-" Google", A little bit a thrill and a little bit of Da Vinci Code, all rolled into one.
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