Monday, May 5, 2014

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
2012, Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Series: Book 1 of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Synopsis: The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything—instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends. But when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls.

The Good:  loved the insiders look at working at Google. That really made the book for me. Also, Clay was an exceptionally believable main character. He's struggling to find work, comes across this weird little bookstore and takes the job out of desperation. All the weirdness that follows, he goes along for the ride. What else could he do? He needed a job.

The Bad: The whole mystery of the books was confusing. At least the real meaning behind the books was confusing. Like, what was the reasoning behind having to decipher the books? What was the ultimate goal? I suppose the book did explain it, but it was rather unsatisfying. And why did all these people want to decipher the books? It was a very cultish situation as far as I understood it. And these were supposed to be educated people, and therefore not likely to fall in with a cult seeking things like immortality. All these people wasting their lives on this quest of theirs caused the people who facilitate that quest seem unlikeable - which doesn't really work in a book like this if the author expects us to like Mr. Penumbra.

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