Cannonball Read V: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is a book about books for people who love books.
I liked it SO MUCH.
Clay has had bad jobs and things are getting worse. But fate or happenstance or J. Randomness has him stumble into Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. Seemingly without his knowledge, he takes a job there and things are weird. Really weird.
There aren't many books that you'd expect to see in a bookstore and not a lot of customers. But there are really weird people who come in and out to borrow books from the back. Climbing ladders like a monkey, he lends out and re-shelves books that make no sense to him.
So, of course, he investigates.
A new girlfriend and old friends join in on the adventure. From technology created right this very second to scribes and giant books chained up in a basement, this book is all about books. And exploring books. And loving books.
I had no clue what was happening and there were times where I wasn't sure who was The Good Guy in Clay's journey. I was totally on one side, but then.. waitaminute... what if? I was more into the characters than the solution to the investigation, but that's a compliment. I wanted to see how everyone approached it in their own way and how it was going to all come together to reveal what was happening.
And this is what I liked the most about this book. Everyone is searching for the same thing, but in different ways and the answer might not be the same. Someone is going to be disappointed. Someone is going to fail. It's possible that no one will even figure out the ultimate question, let alone solve the problem. People want to keep with tradition while others think it's criminal not to use technology to approach the problem. Everyone is working on the same goal, but everyone has different reasons.
Clay does fit in to that sort of Everyday Hero Man. He's not too much of anything and he surrounds himself with people he can draw from to move forward. This was a bit clichéd but I didn't mind. Books follow motifs because motifs work.
I wish I worked in a crazy bookstore with weird secrets and odd customers and rules.
PS: The cover glows in the dark. IT GLOWS IN THE DARK!!!
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