Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore
by Robin Sloan
Published: 27th February 2014
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a Web-design drone and serendipity coupled with sheer curiousity has landed him a new job working the night shift at Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore. But it doesn’t take long for Clay to realise that the quiet, dusty book emporium is even more curious than its name suggests…
I first came across this book through Booktube, in which this book featured in a few different haul videos. I really enjoyed the blurb, and the idea of a 24 hour book shop sounded like heaven on earth to me. What book lover wouldn’t enjoy that? I bought it and got round to reading it a little while ago. Honestly, it’s taken me a couple of attempts to review this book, because I’ve found it hard to express how I felt about this book. I did have mixed feelings about this book, and I will get into that with you now.
Firstly, I thought the book had a solid enough beginning. I quite liked Clay, the main character’s, voice and I felt that he came across as realistic and relatable. Just from that, and the hope of a gripping plot, I was engaged enough to continue on, reading a chunk of the book before I’d realised. The world building caught me, and I loved reading about the other characters and their surroundings. Everything is well described, and each character had their own little quirk that made them stand out.
This book is very well written, and is definitely an interesting read. Now, I’m sure you’re wondering why I had mixed feelings about this book? Well, with all of the above being said – there was something about this book that literally put me to sleep. I’d be reading this book and then next thing I know I’d wake up on the couch.
The plot was intriguing, and it was clear from the minute that Clay set foot into the book shop that there was something odd happening there. I was definitely curious, but I felt I wanted to book to move elsewhere – and that I was more interested in the actually book shop and reading about Clay finding a way to bring in new customers. I enjoyed the introduction of Kat, and how she juxtaposed the bookshop with her love of technology. Well, she works for Google – so technology and computers are definitely very important to her.
It wasn’t until about half way through that it really started to get interesting, to be honest. I quite liked that the mystery went places that I didn’t predict, so was surprising. The contrast between all of the more conservative aspects, like books and tradition, to the more modern aspects, like technology and the things that result from that, was something I enjoyed quite a bit. In fact, I would have liked to see more of Grumble, who for me was a very interesting character that I would have liked to find out more about.
You can see that it’s hard to explain my feelings about this book? My feeling is that the pace of this book was too slow, and it didn’t go in the direction that I’d hoped it would. In the end the mystery and intrigue of the plot just didn’t grip my interest enough to suck me in for the entirety of the novel. This book wasn’t what I hoped it would be, but I did enjoy it nonetheless, but came away feeling a little disappointed.
Would recommend for those that enjoy Dan Brown, and love mystery and book shops.