Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Blurb: 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.
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | GoodReads

Book: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012
Genre: Literature
Rating: HeartHeartHeartHeartHeart
Source + Date Read: Borrowed + May 2013
Recommend: Hell Yes!
Book Pro’s: Amazing, touching, funny.
Book Con’s: I had to reread certain parts that were a bit digital for my basic understanding.
Favourite Line: “Walking the stacks in a library, dragging your fingers across the spines — it’s hard not to feel the presence of sleeping spirits.”

Cover: HeartHeartHeartHeartHeart

This is going to be an easy one. Look at the cover, just look at it. It’s hard to see the majesty of it digitally, but when you buy the hardback version and turn off the lights, it glows. The. Cover. Glows. Who designed this? What PR team devised this? Can I shake their hands? Bow down to their awesomeness?

Setting: HeartHeartHeartHeartHeart

Set in the totally urban, hip and cool San Francisco, this novel explores the extraordinary life of a single bookshop and how it connects to an everlasting whole.

Review:

5 Hearts baby. Five whole hearts. That’s how much I enjoyed this book! There are only a few flaws in Mr. Penumbra’s and yet, the good, delightful parts outweigh any negatives.

First of all, Sloan is a wiz at developing his characters. I was able to relate to the protagonist in all of his geeky glory in a very authentic and heartfelt way. The supporting characters are all unique, quirky and divine in their own way. Each has their own niche to fill. Think of this novel as a puzzle and each character locks into a separate slot but then connects to the whole. Or think of it as a giant circuit board (that’s more fitting with book actually).

Thematically, I was entranced. I love bookish mysteries or books that talk about books. What gives this novel an edge is Sloan’s acceptance of the digital age, google and e-books. We meet traditionalists, purists, and revolutionaries, each contributing a valid argument to each side.

My only quip is when Sloan delves deeply into the technological stuff. Never dying? Industrial scanners? What? It took me a while to get into the cyber portions of the book and I admit that I had to reread a few pages and chapters to get a sound grasp of what he was talking about.

Total Score: HeartHeartHeartHeartHeart

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About Claire (BWB)

It's Claire (aka Quirky) from Bitches With Books, an online book blog that serves up a healthy dose of book reviews, lists + literary madness.
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12 Responses to Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

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  6. DoingDewey says:

    I’ve been seeing lots of good reviews about it, but contemporary isn’t always my thing so I haven’t been too interested in picking it up.At the same time, I love quirky characters and I also share your love of books about books, so I might give this one a try 🙂

  7. Ok, so I definitely need to read this book. *pops over to B&N online store*

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  9. This is one I have stayed away from because I was a little worried that it might be mainly hype. Looks like I need to suck it up and pick up the book.

    • Claire (BWB) says:

      Wow, I’m just seeing your comment. Wtf wordpress? It’s a lot of hype and some of that plays out a bit in it but If you like books that talk about books.. then this is a goodie. If you don’t, stay far away.

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