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Kim

Peace. Love. Books.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore - Robin Sloan 3.5*

I picked up this book, not knowing what it was about, simply because I gravitate towards books that are about or associated with books, bookstores, writing, the publishing industry and the like. After finishing it, I'm not quite sure what to make of it.

Our main character, Clay Jannon, is an unemployed web designer/juvenile programmer who found himself a job as a clerk at Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour bookstore. Right from the onset there is something odd about the bookstore. It rarely carried titles you'd normally find in a chain. There was also a section in the bookstore that operated as a library, which had peculiar patrons and an even more peculiar collection. Even stranger than the bookstore were the conditions that Mr. Penumbra had for his employee - that he never inspects or reads the books from "that section of the bookstore," and that he logs down every detail about the people who borrow the books from that section and which books they borrow. Curiosity eventually wins and Clay finds himself completely immersed in the bookstore and the enchanted by its strangeness. He finds out that the quirky borrowers are actually involved in some kind of quest, and they are trying to solve a puzzle. Clay creates a more efficient database which shows him the patrons' borrowing patterns, and with the help of his geeky friends he's able to solve the puzzle within the bookstore. This revelation, however, sets his employer on a mad dash to New York, where the headquarters of the company funding the bookstore is located. Worried about his boss and the welfare of the bookstore, Clay, along with his friends, follow him and embark on an adventure to uncover the secrets of Mr. Penumbra's bookstore and the secret society behind it.

This book was easy to read and like. I can't really pinpoint what I didn't enjoy about this book other than the big reveal at the end wasn't big enough for me. The plot and all the characters interested me, although there were parts of the story that were too Google-centric for my taste. I found their New York adventure exciting enough, and I was glad that there was never any threatening drama between Clay and Mr. Penumbra. Overall, it was an enjoyable read but not something that shook my foundations or made me feel strongly about anything.