Book Review: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan (Review #2)



Genre: Fiction
Number Of Pages/Listening Time: 288 pages, or 7 hours and 41 minutes on audiobook

Goodreads | Audible

Synopsis: The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco web-design drone--and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey have landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore.  But after a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests.  There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything.  Instead, they "check out" impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra.  The store must be a front for something larger.  Soon Clay has embarked on a complex analysis of the customers' behavior and roped his friends into helping him figure out just what is going on.  And when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore.
With irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan has crafted a literary adventure story for the twenty-first century, evoking both the fairy-tale charm of Haruki Murakami and the enthusiastic novel-of-ideas wizardry of Neal Stephenson or the young Umberto Eco, but with a unique and feisty sensibility that is rare to the world of literary fiction.  Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave, a modern-day cabinet of wonders ready to give a jolt of energy to every curious reader, no matter the time of day.



My Rating:
★★★★★ and a ♥!
...for being an enchanting read for the third time reading it

My Thoughts:
This re-read wasn't planned, but since this came up as a BOTM for my library book club, I was forced to read it again. :)
This was the third time reading it, and I still loved it. This time was even more fun because both my mother and my grandmother read it along with me. My mom really liked the quirky one-liners that make you chuckle aloud, and my grandmother thought Robin Sloan used the thesaurus a little too much, but she still really liked it.
This is a quirky, fun, and optimistic read. It looks at the current advancement of technology with awe, and yet the old technology of books and printing is still viewed as wondrous. The writing is nice, in a modern, quippy sort of way. It has it's own fluidity, with subtle humor laced into the pages. The jokes aren't loud or sarcastic, but quiet and witty. Here's an example:
"So of course people try to pirate fonts. I am not one of those people....trust me, I know how much sweat goes into those shapes. Typographers are designers; designers are my people; I am committed to supporting them. But now FontShop.com tells me that Gerritszoon Display, distributed by FLC Type Foundry of New York City, costs $3,989. So of course I will try to pirate that font." 
Overall, this is a magical read, just without the magic. I know some people have shelved this as fantasy, but it's not. It's enchanting and questlike, a modern adventure, but it's not magical in any way. After reading this three times, I still want to read it again. Completely worth a look if you haven't already.

Comments