Book: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012
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.”
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?
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.
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.