Saturday, February 1, 2014

review: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Title by Author: Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Series (if applicable): none
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: Oct 2012
Page Count:  288
Source: local library
Blurb: Global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, young love, and the secret to eternal life — mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore. The Great Recession shuffles Clay Jannon from his web-design drone job to night shift at Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Curiously, few customers come in repeatedly and never buy. Analysis reveals astonishing secrets ...

My Interest in this book is: I saw a review for this book quite some time ago and it has been on my TBR pile for a bit.  I was wandering around the library about a month ago and came across the title.  Plus, it fit in perfectly for my “By the Numbers” category of the Reading Outside the Box 2014 Reading Challenge!

My Review:
Clay Jannon has been out of work for some time and while he was wandering around the streets of San Francisco, he came across “Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore,” as well as a sign in the window looking for a shop clerk.  It wasn’t what he really wanted to do, but he was running out of money and needed any job!  After opening the door, he was greeted by an older gentleman with a quirky demeanor and an unusual bookstore.  After answering a few questions, Mr. Penumbra hired Clay on the spot – as long as Clay agreed to a few stipulations, one of them being stated as not reading any of the books on the tall shelves in the back of the store.

Intrigued, Clay accepted the position and was given the night shift in the 24-Hour bookstore.  Rarely did someone come in, but when they did, he had to write down intriguing details of the patron who did not buy a book, but simply checked it out.  Clay was puzzled by these late-night antics of older, quirky patrons, and started to wonder what kind of strange cult he had gotten himself mixed up in.  Clay had no idea what he was in for!

From his previous job, Clay knew a little about web design and mobile advertising, so he created ads that would pop up on mobile phones if the person fit a certain demographic, hoping to get people in to buy what few books were on the front shelves.  Clay felt bad for Mr. Penumbra because no one seemed to buy anything.  One night, though, a young lady walked in because the ad popped up on her phone when she was waiting for the bus.  The bookstore did not have the book she was looking for, but Clay got to talk with her.  Enter Kat, a Googler, with a unique personality that completely enthralled Clay.

One night when Clay was bored, he decided to create a 3-D image of the bookstore, to include the “Waybacklist” area – the section of the bookstore (that was about 3 stories high) that no one bought from, but people borrowed books from – and all with bizarre titles.  He slowly started to add titles to the 3-D model and found a pattern.  Thus begins the true treasure hunt of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.

This was a very enjoyable read.  The characters were fun and the hunt for knowledge was eventful with each character playing a part in discovering the secret of the clandestine group of eccentrics and their coded books.  This book was a pleasure to read on many levels.  Unlike many mysteries that are soaked in dark shadows, this one is full of dust motes and Googlers.  There is definitely humor in this story, and perfect for anyone who likes to read, especially adventure stories that involve wizards. I appreciated the easy flow of the story that also captivated me enough to make me hurry up to find out how it will end.  If you love books, nerds (and geeks!) and treasure hunts, this book it perfect!

Oh!Oh! Did I mention that the book cover glows in the dark?!? 
 How cool is THAT!?

Favorite Quotes:
But when people are past a certain age, you sort of stop asking them why they do things.  It feels dangerous.

When I was a kid reading fantasy novels, I daydreamed about hot girl wizards. I never thought I’d actually meet one, but that’s only because I didn’t realize wizards were going to walk among us and we’d call them Googlers.

Of course we’ll accept it. That’s what you do on a quest.  You listen to the old wizard’s problem and then you promise to help him.

I’ve never listened to an audiobook before, and I have to say, it’s a totally different experience. When you read a book, the story definitely happens inside your head. When you listen, it seems to happen in a little cloud all around it, like a fuzzy knit cap pulled down over your eyes.

You know, I’m really starting to think the whole world is just a patchwork quilt of crazy little cults, all with their own secret spaces, their own records, their own rules.

When I finished this book, I felt: glad that I had a chance to pick it up and read it!
Rating: 4 stars
Other books to read by this author or theme:  not sure what I would pick for this theme.
Tag: bibliophile, secret society, friendship, treasure hunt, mystery, Google
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