Book Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan

mr. penumbra

Rating: 3 / 5

Clay Jannon is working as a clerk at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.  This is pretty much the only job he could get with the recession, and it is the nightshift, when few customers ever pass through the front doors.  Jannon notices that the customers that do come in usually request obscure books that Jannon has never heard of, rather than current New York Times bestsellers.  Intrigued by the store itself along with its patrons and the owner’s odd rules, Jannon begins digging into Mr. Penumbra’s story and the history of the bookstore, heading straight towards a whirlwind adventure he could have never imagined.

I find it really hard to adequately describe this book; it is so many things tightly woven together.  Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is a story about love, technology, design, passion, and the quest for immortality. I loved Clay Jannon’s personality-it was sharp, witty, and honest- I couldn’t help but root for him and his nerd-crush on Kat.  The intermingling of ancient books and secret societies with Google and the high tech world was intriguing and I liked the magical aspect.  But for some reason I just didn’t love it (and I know I am in the minority here).  Maybe it is because I think this would have been better as a YA book.  Or maybe because reading this, I thought the author either works at Google or worked at Google.  At times I thought there was too much love for Google, like Google could solve all the world’s problems if there was just enough time.

I also didn’t think the ending was a homerun.  Like Jannon, I didn’t think the great discovery everyone in the cult was looking for actually existed, but what was given was a tad bit lackluster and anti-climatic.  Overall it was entertaining, but I was hoping for more umph.

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