BOOK REVIEW: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – by Robin Sloan

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Title: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
(Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore #1)
Author: Robin Sloan
Genre: Mystery, Fantasy, Contemporary
First published: October 2nd 2012
Finished reading: May 3rd 2015
Pages: 288
Rating 4

“Walking the stacks in a library, dragging your fingers across the spines — it’s hard not to feel the presence of sleeping spirits.”

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 I was expecting a completely different read when I started reading this novel by Robin Sloan, but different doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. There is a lot more fantasy involved than I would have thought originally, with many fantasy novel references and a secret book society. Since I like the whole fantasy genre I didn’t really mind, but it will definitely be an unpleasant surprise for anyone who prefers reading contemporary fiction or mystery novels. Another important part of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore that can go either way is the fact that there are many many references to modern technology and Google in particular. I wasn’t really bothered by them personally as both the fantasy and technology references brought out the nerd in me. Still, I can’t deny that there was an awful lot of positive publicity about Google that made me wonder if the Googlers decided to sponsor this novel. That said, the prose was entertaining and the pace fast enough for me to finish this one quickly.  The characters are likeable in general and all in all it’s an entertaining read.

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Clay Jannon is originally more of a web-design and technology expert, but the recession has left him jobless and he is not exactly picky now he’s looking for a new one. When he sees that they are hiring at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, he decides to apply since he enjoys reading himself. Clay soon discovers that the bookstore he is about to start working isn’t exactly a normal one. Not only does the owner Penumbra has a curious taste when it comes to picking the secondhand book titles that are available at the store, but there are also other books that are even more curious. On the higher shelves there are books that can only be ‘checked out’ by members that are even stranger than the obscure volumes themselves… Clay gets the job, but under the condition that he writes down everything the special clients check out and bring back and their general appearance. He is also told that he cannot read the books in question… Clay accepts these terms originally, but under the influence of his friends he starts getting more curious by the day. And soon enough he starts discovering more and more about the members and their secrets.

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 I enjoyed the first half of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore better than the second half. I guess that is mostly caused by the fact that the whole mystery around the secret book society could have been more interesting. True, I would have loved to work in Penumbra’s bookstore myself and discover more about the members and the strange books they check out. (Although I think I would have been fired before the week is over for trying to read them.) But I was a bit disappointed by the end and Clay’s quest wasn’t all that exciting in general. It ended up being too much of a commercial for Google… Still, the first part makes up for it and I would definitely recommend reading this novel by Robin Sloan.

WWW Wednesdays #38 – May 6th

wwwwednesdaysOriginally featured at Should Be Reading and now hosted by Sam at Taking On A World Of Words, WWW WEDNESDAYS is still about answering the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?

warmbodiesshiverI started reading Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion the other day and while I’m normally not really into zombie stories, this one is pretty good so far. I’m also going to start reading Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater later today, so I will cheat and count it as currently-reading as well. 😉 I have been wanting to start this series for ages so I’m excited to finally read this one.

  • What did you recently finish reading?

mrpenumbras24hourbookstorereeltorealvideostoremurdersI finished Reel To Real: The Video Store Murders by Joyce Nance yesterday and it was without doubt an interesting read. This book is based on a true story of the video store murders in Albuquerque, and the author does a great job of getting inside the head of the killer and sidekick. I also finished Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan a few days ago, a novel that turned out to be completely different than expected but I really enjoyed reading it. Full reviews of both books are still to come…

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

fallingintoplaceangelfallI decided to use my TBR jar again and it got me Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang. While I’ve been looking forward to read this one, I’m not sure I can handle another teen suicide story right now after reading The Last Time We Say Goodbye last month and using up my supply of tissues. So I will probably stick to the YA fantasy genre and read Angelfall by Susan Ee next; another series I’ve been wanting to start reading for a while now.

WWW Wednesdays #37 – April 29th

wwwwednesdaysOriginally featured at Should Be Reading and now hosted by Sam at Taking On A World Of Words, WWW WEDNESDAYS is still about answering the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?

harrypotterandthedeathlyhallowsdorothymustdieI have been reading Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige since yesterday and I’m absolutely loving it so far. I’m definitely going to try and finish it before the end of this month! Same goes for Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows; I’m about 70% into the story and it’s incredible how many new details I’m discovering while I’m rereading this last book in the HP series!

  • What did you recently finish reading?

themetamorphosisIvampireacademy finished Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead the other day and I cannot say I enjoyed reading it. I guess cheesy vampire stories are just not for me, especially if the main character is such an arrogant pain in the ***… I also finished The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka for my TBR Pile challenge, a novel that was ok in general but not the influential classic I thought it would be. Luckily my current reads are better!

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

atwistinthetalemrpenumbras24hourbookstoreUsing my TBR jar a while back got me A Twist In The Tale by Jeffrey Archer, a book I can conveniently use for my Bookish Bingo Girly Geek challenge… It was written in 1988, the year I was born. 😀 I’m also looking forward to be finally reading Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan… I’ve heard mixed things about it, but it sounds like an interesting read.