Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan [2012]

Haha, just the title to this book alone is enough to make me crack a grin!
After Crime and Punishment, this book was a really good way sort of come back from all the really dark themes and such.
Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore is about a man named Clay Jannon, who is a very techy fellow, but hasn't been able to hold onto a good job, despite the fact that he lives in the heart of tech country- San Francisco. So Clay grabs onto the first job he can get- the overnight shift at a very weird bookstore that's (you guessed it!) open 24 hours a day. Soon, weird people come and borrow books that are seemingly nothing but jumbles of letters taking up all the pages. It soon turns out though that Mr. Penumbra and these costumers are members of a secret organization seeking- well, I don't want to spoil it!
This book is narrated in the first person by Clay, and he's a really fun narrator! He's dorky, sarcastic, and actually very clever and intelligent when you get down to it! The pacing is good, the plot never drags, but it also doesn't feel rushed, either.
The Supporting Cast is also pretty good, though- I've noticed this with 1st person narration- they aren't as developed as the main character, and that's cool. Why? Because in a 1st person narration book, we only know as much as the narrator knows, and the narrator doesn't know all their inmost secrets. That being said, they are still very interesting and fun. I liked Kat, and of course, Mr. Penumbra himself! The plot goes in directions that you don't expect, and I really liked how all the loose ends (and more!) are neatly tied up at the end of the novel.
There are some interesting themes, too.  The most obvious one is the relationship between modern technology and regular, traditional books. I feel that by the end of the novel, the conclusion is agreeable and interesting.

The Verdict: A
So, this was a really delightful book! It's got everything a book nerd like me could want! A relatable protagonist who is relatable without feeling catered to a specific audience, a colorful ensemble of characters, snarky but not obnoxious writing, and a plot that grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go. Hooray!

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