Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore : Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

  • by Robin Sloan
  • Narrated by Ari Fliakos
  • Series: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
  • 7 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A gleeful and exhilarating tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life - mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore.
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 has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just 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 "checking 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, Clay concludes, and soon he's embarked on a complex analysis of the customers' behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what's going on. But once 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 21st century, evoking both the fairy-tale charm of Haruki Murakami and the enthusiastic novel-of-ideas wizardry of Neal Stephenson or a young Umberto Eco, but with a unique and feisty sensibility that's 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 listener, no matter the time of day.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

And now for something completely different.

What a clever book! A marriage of the age of social media and an age of antiquity. With strong characters, good narration and a thoroughly intriguing plot and concept this book kept me royally entertained. It's a little bit different from the norm so it's hard to say who would or wouldn't enjoy such a book but if you do fancy a slightly different adventure then this is definitely one to try.
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- Simon

gentle nerd wish fulfilment fantasy

This is one of those books that suddenly seemed to be evey where I looked. The title appealed and what's not to like about a mystery in a bookstore, so I downloaded it.

It is a unique book: a quirky, slightly dizzying, overlaying of Google-led West Coast Techie culture; a centuries old, secretive bibliophile sect with a mission and a real-life analog of a traditional Dungeons and Dragons questing party.

It is told with a light touch, lots of pop culture references, and a self-deprecating charm that make it an easy read.

This is a only a "thriller" if you don't get out much. No body-count. No supernatural beings. Not even car chases and gun fights. The height of excitement is a trip to an old New York basement and a visit to a massive automated warehouse and yet I was happy to keep reading.

This is a book with a message. A fairly anodyne message but one that is passionately told. I won't tell you what it is because that is about the only real surprise in the book.

Whether you enjoy this book may depend on whether you find the central character endearing and resourceful or just naive and lost. "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore" made me smile but it was so gentle and so slight that it didn't make a lasting impression. I assume that the ubiquity of the book is attributable to the fact that it has a clever title, is easy to read and envisions a MacBook-wielding, nerdy, website designer as heroic.

Reading "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore" was a fine way to pass a couple of idle afternoons but if I'd bought a physical copy rather than an audiobook, it would be on its way to the second-hand bookstore by now.
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- Mike Murphy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 26-09-2013
  • Publisher: Orion Publishing Group