The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything—instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends. But when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls. Rendered with irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan's Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave.
Wow! What a whimsical read and definitely unexpected. I had to read this book for a book-club I am involved with and was expecting something drab and boring like the last book we read. I was enthralled with this tale from the beginning. Clay was such a likable character and one that I felt had he been real we would have been the best of friends. He was funny, charming, nerdy, and just the right amount of paranoid. The mystery was fast to develop and just as the author intended I felt like Clay was on a quest to find out the secrets behind the books of the bookstore. I loved the side characters and the weaving of modern luxuries like Google and Kindles into the story line. Clay’s best friend Neel took the show if you ask me. He was the side-kick that every hero needs by their side. Kat would have had it had she not been such a letdown of a girl in Clay’s life. I had such high hopes for her, especially as Clay’s girlfriend, but she just couldn’t get over herself enough to be what Clay needed her to be. Don’t get me wrong, the romance in this book is so subtle you barely notice it. This is a story of adventure and the secret to eternal life set it a bleak San Francisco bookstore. I would never had picked this up on my own and have to give thanks to my book club for picking it. I recommend this book if you are looking for an exciting mystery that involves a global wide conspiracy, complicated puzzle solving, table-top gaming lingo, and the hunt for eternal life