Book Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

13538873Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, the one bookstore that stays open all day and all night. Clay Jannon has lost his job as a marketing designer for a small bagel company. He is left with no job and nothing to show for his previous employment. One day he comes across a help wanted sign in a bookstore front. The front of the store contains the more popular books of pop culture. The back of the store is where the mystery is. Huge shelves go all the way up, full of books written in a strange code.

As Clay crosses the threshold, his life will change. He takes the night shift at the bookstore, a slow shift with only one or two of the bookstore’s eccentric customers. He spends his evenings writing down all the descriptions of the patrons that enter the store.

Out of curiosity, Clay decides to use some of his marketing skills to catalog all the books in the store. As he builds a model of the store, he notices a pattern of all the books borrowed from the back. This discovery leads to an exciting adventure of decoding, Googlers, singing dragons, and a secret society searching for immortality.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore has been on my radar for a while. The title really caught me in, but once I read it, I was a little disappointed. The writing is good, but I felt the story was just missing something. It didn’t really excite my bibliophile heart as much as I thought it would. (ie The Bookman’s Tale)

But the road to decoding the secret book is great! One with weird angles, an insight into the abilities of Google, and old fashioned ingenuity. It was quirky and weird, but interesting. It kept me reading it constantly until I finished it.

All in all, it was a good story. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan gets 3 stars.

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