01 March 2013

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

Ever since I started my account with Goodreads, I find most of my new books from their monthly newsletter. Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore was one of those books that kept popping up on all of my friend's "to read" lists and when I saw it just sitting there on the new book display at my library, I knew I had to pick it up. 

Clay Jannon (referred to primarily by his last name through the book) spends his days looking for work. Well, mostly. It's part job searching on the internet, part making coffee, part getting distracted by the internet, part getting depressed by lack of job and part just giving up and taking a nap. If you've looked for work recently, you'll understand completely. He happened upon a bookstore, Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore to be precise, looking for a night shift clerk. Even after one of the oddest interviews Jannon had every experienced, he is hired almost on the spot. 

The bookstore is, as Jannon quickly finds out, part bookstore part book club. The members come in at all hours of the day and night, ask for the oddest titled books with confidence, and then leave, sometimes, never to be seen by Jannon again. It is a rare day when a non-member stumbles in to buy a bestseller in the small front section of the store. 

But you are asking the question: members? Members of what? 
That's just it. Jannon isn't quite sure. He is responsible of keeping track of who comes in, their mannerisms, the way they are dressed, the words they use and what they had eaten before coming in. Your question becomes Jannon's question too and he sets off to figure out what is really going on in Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore.

The way I see this book, it's part DaVinci Code/Digital Fortress (yes, a combo of two Dan Brown books. Sue me.): old school and new tech. It is part something else but I can't quite put my finger on it. The story was interesting but the motivation was a bit on the lacking side. I liked the book, but will probably think twice about reading anything else by Robin Sloan.  

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