BOOK IN REVIEW: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

9:33 PM


Title: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Author: Robin Sloan
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (October 2, 2012)
Publication date: October 2nd 2012
Hardcover: 304 pages
Rating: 3.5/5

Nerds are awesome! Nerds are cool! Nerd out! Let your nerd flag fly! Seriously!

Upon finishing this quite eccentric yet totally awesome book, this nonsensical blubber is the result. Mr. Sloan, I don't know where to begin with this except to tell you that: YOU ARE SUCH A NERD, BUT AN AWESOME ONE AT THAT. Really. Awesome.

Okay so maybe I have overused the word 'awesome' already, but I cannot think of a better word to describe this feeling I have in connection to this awesome book. Okay enough with the awesomes.

The hero of this novel is Clay Jannon, a graphic designer with mediocre programming skills who has become unemployed due to the recession. He ends up with the late night shift at a bookstore, where everything is not what it seems. The rules set by the mysterious owner Mr. Penumbra are at first simple: 1. You must not be late. 2. You must not browse, read or inspect the shelved volumes in the bookstore (otherwise known as the Wayback List).

Well, obviously, curiosity strikes and Clay finds himself breaking the rules Penumbra laid down for him, as Penumbra always hoped and expected him to. From this, Clay discovers that this isn't about a weird book club for old people, but is actually a secret society trying to decode a 500-year old encoded volume with gibberish language that actually contains the secret to the greatest question: How do we live forever?



From this point, I started gobbling up this book in the craziest and fastest ways imaginable. I NEEDED to know how it ends. I NEEDED answers. I NEEDED to know the secret to immortality.

But man, the ending was such a let-down! I didn't expect any metaphysical elements, but I needed a better reveal.

Okay no spoilers here, but really, I was so disappointed.

For such an interesting premise and a well-written central narrative, the ending didn't quite do justice to everything the writer (and my feelings) has invested to this story.

I shall say no more as I don't want to give spoilers.

However, I liked the book for the following reasons: 1. The concept is really nice and unique as I'm always intrigued with a book about books; 2. The cover is glow-in-the-dark; 3. Penumbra is a cool name - did you know that it is actually the shadow cast by the earth or moon over an area experiencing a partial eclipse?; 4. It somewhat shows the conflict between the "print is dead" and "paper is forever" crowds, but doesn't tell us which of the two is better or will prevail in the end (not preachy); 5. It stresses the importance of technology but also proves that human capacity is imperative as well; and oh, 6. Google isn't evil here either, in an amazing plot twist.

This book could've gotten a higher rating if it weren't for the ending. But still, I highly recommend you to read this book. And I do look forward to reading more from Mr. Robin Sloan.

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2 comments

  1. This has been on my radar ever since it came out because of all the raves but I'm waiting for a maybe cheaper paperback so I can buy it. Hee. Can't wait to finally read it. Hopefully soon. :D

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