Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
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Cannonball Read V: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

By pyrajane | Book Reviews | May 22, 2013 | Comments ()


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!!!

This review is part of the volunteer Cannonball Read V. Read all about it, and for more of pyrajane's reviews, check out her blog

(Note: Any revenue generated from purchases made through the affiliate links in this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • I loved this book so much - it was such a pleasure to read something that, despite some flaws, was so suffused with a joy for people and life and books.

  • Cazadora

    I loved this too, though more for the writing stye, than plot. My favorite line in the book was written after a description of building a fairly complex computerized 3D model "If this sounds impressive to you, you're over 30." I love that sort of cheekiness.

  • pyrajane

    This was a book group pick and I agree with these comments. We talked about how much we loved the book and then realized we couldn't explain a big chunk of it. We sort of forgot the point of parts of the mystery. We were caught up in the search for clues and we really liked the Google parts but we blanked on major plot points.

    Still, everyone really liked it, so... success?

  • mclb

    It has a glow in the dark cover !!!!!!!!! One problem with having enjoyed this book on my Kindle - and I did love it - the scenes at Google were wonderful and fun to read !!!

  • AudioSuede

    I enjoyed this book a fair amount, but I was consistently frustrated by the way he would build up a mystery and then spend huge chunks of time on things that seemed totally unrelated, especially the love story. And then the payoff was decidedly disappointing. But it's one of those books that encourages a love of reading, and that's commendable.

  • I felt the same way. I thought the ideas were solid, but the execution was lacking. The character development was weak. I don't mind a subtle pay off if I care about what happens to the characters.

  • mb

    I LOVED the first 3/4th of this book...and then got totally bored by the end. :(

  • KatSings

    This has been on my To Read list since it came out.

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