Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

penumbraI loved this! Put it on hold a while ago, it came in and Paul read it first. He was completely engrossed in it so I knew I’d love it, and sure enough I found myself completely unable to put it down, too. If you want to read a full review and summary, complete with images, check out his review (which I haven’t read yet.) Mine will be much more brief.

The story: Clay gets a job at a weird little bookshop that is super tall. There are very few customers and they are part of some club where they keep getting books from the wayback that are mysterious and filled with apparent gibberish. With the help of a girlfriend who works at Google they uncover a secret society and become involved in solving its central mystery, its reason for being.

Now, that sounds practically DaVinci Code-esque, but it’s not. It’s funny, charming, an engrossing mystery, and delightful.

What I especially loved about it: the characters are great, especially Kat, who works at Google,  Mat, who works for Industrial Light and Magic, and Neel, who made millions designing boob software.  I was fascinated about all the details of Google and working there (which I will assume are largely true.) I liked the mystery and the secret society which was a gentle one filled with people puzzling over books for years and years.  And I loved the line about Neel gasping and Clay knowing it was a gasp that meant “I have waited my whole life to walk into a secret room through a bookcase.” (not a direct quote, as best I can remember!) As an avid lover of books and a librarian, as someone who thinks the question that people pondering technology like to ask (“Will we still have books and libraries?”) is stupid, what I especially loved about this book was the interplay between technology and books and the discussions they had about the evolving way of interacting with knowledge.

Overall, I thought it was just wonderful. And I really did love the way they went about solving the riddles. I felt like I was on a merry chase with the characters.

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