Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is another departure from my usual reading habits. But it’s about books! you say. Yes, but it’s also a thriller, of sorts, in a bestseller-y sort of way. And I absolutely loved it.
It’s about a bookstore clerk named Clay Jannon, who notices strange patterns as he works: people occasionally wander into the bookstore to buy books from the front. Much more often, regular patrons come in and ask for a specific text, written in code, and returning another book in exchange for it. Clay becomes curious and makes a 3D model of the store on his computer, eventually keeping track of who checks out what. Enthralled by the visual pattern, he enlists the help of a Google employee who uses their vast computer network to analyze the pattern. Then Things Get Interesting.
This novel isn’t really what I expected. In fact, when I wasn’t even halfway through, I gave a copy to a coworker. Then it got pretty technical (Google scanning, etc), and I was like, Oh noes! It’s too technical! She won’t like it! Which, according to her, wasn’t the case, but she was probably just being nice.
Which doesn’t mean that Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore isn’t awesome. ‘Cause it is. It’s just for people interested in books and technology, or at least people who like books and aren’t entirely technologically illiterate. It was definitely a fun read, and I’ll look forward to more from Robin Sloan in the future.
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