Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
by Robin Sloan
When Clay unexpectedly loses his job he finds himself taking a position as a night clerk at a 24-hour bookstore. He soon realizes the shop is more unique than he could have guessed. Peculiar individuals come in at all hours of the night and use the store as a library, checking out obscure titles. Clay’s curiosity gets the better of him and he begins to research the history of the store and its quirky owner, Mr. Penumbra.
Sloan does a great job blending an ancient love of books with the world’s progression towards technological dependence. In addition to the San Francisco bookstore, the story is set in a library in New York City and even takes Clay to Google’s headquarters. The supporting cast of characters, made up of Clay’s friends, roommates and employers is a mishmash of oddballs. Clay bonded with his childhood best friend over their shared love of the fictional fantasy series The Dragon-Song Chronicles. He meets and falls for a cute Google employee and he admires his mysterious elderly employer as he gets to know him.

The adventurous book has a lot in common with Ready Player One, which I loved. Both share a playful tone, center around a quest and have the same general nerd outlook on life. The ending of the book is a bit silly, but I can’t imagine how else it would have ended, so it works if you just suspend your cynicism and have fun.
BOTTOM LINE: It’s a really amusing read. The plot is definitely secondary; the focus is on the geeky characters and their love of books and technology. Just let go and enjoy the ride.


Anonymous said...

I read this one when it first came out and enjoyed it quite a bit. I am very glad that my mom told me about the glow-in-dark cover - I think it might have freaked me out a bit if I hadn't known ahead of time. :)
There is also an e-book prequel, Ajax Penumbra 1969, which seems intriguing.

Anonymous said...

You've changed your look! I love it. Congratulations.

Anonymous said...

I'll put this on my list of books to read when I'm in a slump. It sounds like a book-loving, slump-buster. BTW -- I, too, love the new layout!

Heather said...

It's like Ready Player One? Oh snap! Moving it up the mountain!

Andi said...

I keep thinking I'll run across a cheap copy of this somewhere and pick it up, but everyone loves it so much, that might never happen! This is me being really tempted to order it.

Kailana said...

I came across this somewhere and it is on my TBR. I keep seeing it on blogs now and really should READ it. *sigh*

Jeanne said...

I liked this because of the way the fairytale feel built, until the ending seemed quite reasonable, to me.

Julie @ Smiling Shelves said...

I loved this book! The mingling of bookishness and crazy technology was an uncommon mix. I've heard a lot about Ready Player One, but I've never heard anyone compare it to Mr. Penumbra before. I just might have to find a copy of that book now!

JoAnn said...

I think I'd enjoy this, too... hope it shows up as a kindle daily deal soon ;-)

Sandy Nawrot said...

Oooh! Fun and bookish stuff is never a bad thing. I loved Ready Player One as well, so I'm going to have to look into this one, see if the library has the audio. Fun books are always MORE fun on audio.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

abibliophilesstyle - It has a glow-in-dark cover?!??!! I read the audiobook, I had no idea!

52booksorbust - Thanks!

figandthistle - Definitely a slump-buster!

Heather - I thought so, young male main character, techy, funny, on a quest. It reminded me a lot of Ready Player One (though I liked RPO more.)

Andi - I got it from the library, my go-to place for newer books.

Kailana - It's a fun one!

Jeanne - I can't think of how else it would have ended.

Julie - They felt very similar to me, you'll have to check it out.

JoAnn - I'll keep my eye out for a kindle deal!

Sandy - It's a great one on audio.

Anonymous said...

Yep, the first cover you have pictured - every single one of those little yellow "books" glows in the dark! It's not too bad if you've been reading with just a little book light, but if you've had a lamp on, that sucker is bright! I just turned it over on my nightstand so it wouldn't keep me up. :)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

abibliophilesstyle - That is too cool! I'm going to have to check out a hard copy now.