Bookstores, puzzles, Google, a fantasy novel, the history of printing, a quest. Robin Sloan's debut novel, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, has all of those elements combined in a complex story with a perfect ending. I'll admit there were a few moments when I felt lost and didn't know where the book was heading. But, oh, when it got there, I actually cried.
Clay Jannon, the narrator, is an art school graduate who was learning how to write code and create ads when the bagel-making company he worked for folded. He didn't have the computer skills to compete with other designers for jobs, so when he saw a sign on the door of a 24-hour San Francisco bookstore advertising for the chance to clerk on the late shift, he jumped at the chance. The front of the store was a normal bookstore. But, in the back was the mysterious Waybacklist that brought in unusual customers. Clay was forbidden to read those books, but he had to log the appearance and actions of the customers, who only came in and borrowed the books. It wasn't long before his curiosity and boredom caught up with him. Clay started to create a 3-D model of the bookstore. And, as he searched for answers, he decided the store, those customers, and the manager, Mr. Penumbra, must be involved in something other than books.
Clay's inquiries lead him to gather a few friends including Kat, who works for Google, and Neel, a friend from childhood who is now a successful entrepreneur. It will take all their skills, and Clay's experiences as a gamer to take them into a world of "Old Knowledge", "Traditional Knowledge", and what Clay thinks might be a cult involving coded books. The answers are larger than anyone imagines. Clay just might discover the greatest secret to life.
Robin Sloan's novel is a gem. It's hard to let go of Clay Jannon at the end of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. It's hard to let go of "the right book exactly, at just the right time." Any reader with patience will understand when they get to that last sentence.
I have been a library manager/administrator for over 30 years, in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and, now, Indiana. Winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. I am a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, ReadertoReader.com and VibrantNation.com. Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer. First Fan Guest of Honor for Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Write Now! Conference.
It's an honor to be asked to review books, and I'm grateful to all the publishers, publicists, and authors who send me books. Thank you. Reviews will appear on my blog if I've had a chance to read, and finish, the book. If I do not finish a book, I won't review it, and I will not respond to emails asking when, or if, I'll be reviewing a book.
My reviews are only my opinion, and do not reflect the views of the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library.
I will not review self-published books, and, at the present time, do not accept books in e-book format.
1, 2, 3 ... By the Sea: A Counting Book
Book: 1, 2, 3 ... By the Sea: A Counting Book Author: Dianne Moritz Illustrator: Hazel Mitchell Pages: 36 Age Range: 3-6 1, 2, 3 ... By the Sea is a nice lit...
My Oct. 19, 2009 blog provides full disclosure that I only receive review copies of books, with no other compensation. All review copies are marked as such. If there any any questions, please feel free to contact me.