Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

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

I borrowed a hardcover copy from my local public library.

My review:

Publisher's summaries- "After a layoff during the Great Recession sidelines his tech career, Clay Jannon takes a job at the titular bookstore in San Francisco, and soon realizes that the establishment is a facade for a strange secret." And "A tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life-mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore."

I had heard a lot of great things about this book, and raving reviews invariably asserted that it will appeal to all true booklovers. Having read it and considering myself a true booklover, I have to disagree. Mr. Penumbra discusses "books" in the sense of physical objects, and refers to the fact that they contain "old knowledge," but there is little to no reference to the contents of actual works of history or literature.

Most of the action glorifies (imaginary) pulp fantasy and modern technology, particularly the wonders of Google. Though I think Sloan was attempting to quicken a new respect for the history of books, the bulk of his text focuses on revering modern technological marvels.

The love story was paper-thin and the "secret society" would have been more interesting if the book had actually spent more time exploring its inner workings.

Not a terrible read, but nothing fantastic, either.

Stars: 3

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