When Clay wanders into Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore on an impulse after seeing the help wanted sign in the window, Mr. Penumbra asks, “What do you seek in these shelves?” (p.8) That sounds like an excellent question for the beginning of a quest. And basically, Clay embarks upon a quest of sorts after getting hired. He is introduced by Penumbra to his unusual bookstore with its small collection of more recent books and its stories high collection of what Clay starts to call the wayback list and its unusual clientele.
Clay and his friends begin to work on the mystery of the books and the clientele and just what is it that they are getting out of these books that appear to be in code. This leads them from the bookstore to Google to New York City and back as they attempt to find out just what’s going on.
I love books about bookstores and the people that inhabit them. This book was no exception. I liked the bit about the secret society trying to decode the books. And I liked the way Clay and his friends work together to try and solve the mystery of what’s in the books. Someone remarked that they thought Clay had it too easy in his quest, and maybe it could be a little true, but I prefer to think he is just good at using the resources and contacts he has access to.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan came out in October 2012. I listened to the unabridged audiobook. It was great except for the part where he is listening to an audiobook inside the book. I just couldn’t make out what was being said, but that could be my ears and fine for most people as I am hard of hearing. I think I might read this book again in the future as opposed to listening to it. Might give me a slightly different take on things. Still, I would expect my overall view to be positive as it is now after listening to the book.
I give this book 4 stars. The book is worth a read. It’s fun to read and see where they are going as they try to solve the mystery of the books and the clientele that make up the secret society that reads them. The ending is a little philosophical. And there is a long epilog, but it’s an interesting way to wrap things up.