Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this at the recommendation of a mentor of mine. I was surprised at how quickly I devoured this book. I purchased it on my kindle yesterday and finished before dinner today.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is about a young man, Clay, needing a job and finding himself becoming a bookseller for a mysterious bookstore open 24 hours next to a strip club. It is slowly revealed that it is part of a secret society trying to figure out a cryptic puzzle. It happens slowly and escalates quickly. Set in San Francisco among programmers and techies.

The beginning of the novel had me imaging a not so distant dystopian future about economic collapse, based upon the main characters’ musings. However, it seems to be set in 2010-2014. A few things seemed to have been added just to show the author knew some technical terms, like Hadoop or Ruby programming language. Data visualization montage was also kind of weird, but I could see it working on film.

Most of the characters were superficially intriguing, but didn’t have a lot of depth. It also straddled the audiobook/paperback/ebook benefits and differences with some good quotes. I enjoyed the author comparing listening to an audio book like being absorbed in a cloud of the book like a snug beanie.

This books gives you mystery, intrigue, a tour of google, museum warehouses, secret societies and special effects. The book wraps everything in a nice little bow at the end if you don’t want to read the rest of the series. It is also a quick read and would make for a great summer beach read.

If you think you might like this book, you can buy it from Amazon here.

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