Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Review: Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

This cute story was very much a side track from what I normally read. I found myself without a book and Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore sounded intriguing, so I gave it a shot.

Clay is a digital arts graduate who finds himself without a job in San Fransisco during the recent recession. He is having a hard time finding a job until he comes across a strange shop called Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore. He takes a job as the overnight clerk and quickly realizes how weird of a place he's in. Odd people come in at all hours, but never buy anything - they just check out books from what Clay calls the "way back section". The books are all incredibly old and are written in some kind of code. He doesn't see how this place can stay open with no one ever buying anything, so he spends his bored nights on the job making Google ads to try and drum up some new business. Also in his time between his 1 or 2 customers a night, he starts learning internet code and decides to practice by making a 3-D model of the book store. He imputs his recent data from who checked out what and develops his program to show who has checked out what and in what order. He meets a cute girl, Kat, who works at Google, and she encourages him to bring more data to Google and let them scan it in and process it for him so he can advance his model even more. He's mostly just interested in hanging out with Kat, so he "borrows" an old log book from the shop and let's Google scan it and imput his data. Once he puts it all together, he starts to see a pattern in the order that the books are checked out and much more. When he confronts Mr. Penumbra, Clay learns that the store is owned by a secret society of readers/code breakers called The Unbroken Spine whose goal is to crack an ancient code to discover the secret to immortality.

I don't want to divulge any more becauswe the mystery aspect is the most fun part of the book. The characters combine the old fashioned methods with Google's super speed at processing information in hopes of cracking the code. I loved how this book was such a combination of the old ways and new ways. It shows how modern technology can simplify our lives so much, but also shows that it can't replace everything. The story was cute and I enjoyed reading it. It's nothing too heavy adn there was nothing inappropriate at all, which is refreshing for a modern book. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

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