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Publisher's Summary

A gleeful and exhilarating tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life - mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore.
The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone - and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead "checking out" impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra.
The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore.
With irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan has crafted a literary adventure story for the 21st century, evoking both the fairy-tale charm of Haruki Murakami and the enthusiastic novel-of-ideas wizardry of Neal Stephenson or a young Umberto Eco, but with a unique and feisty sensibility that’s rare to the world of literary fiction. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave, a modern-day cabinet of wonders ready to give a jolt of energy to every curious listener, no matter the time of day.
©2012 Robin Sloan (P)2012 Macmillan Audio
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Irene on 04-11-14


What made the experience of listening to Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore the most enjoyable?

A mystery was set up, the process was engaging and the ending was as it should be.

What did you like best about this story?

The main characters were well fleshed out and likeable.

What about Ari Fliakos’s performance did you like?

It was appropriate - not too gaudy.

If you could rename Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, what would you call it?

Why rename it?

Any additional comments?

Recommend this. If you want fast action you will be disappointed but if you want to be intelligently entertained this is for you.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Crystal on 08-26-14

A Book for Book Lovers

I love books. In fact, I love books so much that I picked up Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore purely because I liked the idea of an actual 24-hour book store so much!

And boy am I glad I did.

Mr Penumbra’s is a love letter to all bibliophiles. It’s for anyone who ever dreamed of finding a real-life mystery in the pages of a book or wished they could go gather a party of their equally geeky friends and embark on an epic quest.

But for all its fantasy origins, Mr Penumbra’s is grounded in modern day San Francisco on the forefront of the digital age. Technology and leather-bound tomes intersect for a fascinating look at the modern mythology of Google.

Audiobooks are often treated as the ugly step-child of literary world so I think fellow users will especially appreciate the musings about the future of the written world in an increasingly virtual world.

Mr Penumbra’s has transcended genre-preferences amongst my circle of friends so I highly recommend it to readers everywhere!

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Simon on 08-31-15

And now for something completely different.

What a clever book! A marriage of the age of social media and an age of antiquity. With strong characters, good narration and a thoroughly intriguing plot and concept this book kept me royally entertained. It's a little bit different from the norm so it's hard to say who would or wouldn't enjoy such a book but if you do fancy a slightly different adventure then this is definitely one to try.

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13 of 13 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Mike on 01-22-15

gentle nerd wish fulfilment fantasy

This is one of those books that suddenly seemed to be evey where I looked. The title appealed and what's not to like about a mystery in a bookstore, so I downloaded it.

It is a unique book: a quirky, slightly dizzying, overlaying of Google-led West Coast Techie culture; a centuries old, secretive bibliophile sect with a mission and a real-life analog of a traditional Dungeons and Dragons questing party.

It is told with a light touch, lots of pop culture references, and a self-deprecating charm that make it an easy read.

This is a only a "thriller" if you don't get out much. No body-count. No supernatural beings. Not even car chases and gun fights. The height of excitement is a trip to an old New York basement and a visit to a massive automated warehouse and yet I was happy to keep reading.

This is a book with a message. A fairly anodyne message but one that is passionately told. I won't tell you what it is because that is about the only real surprise in the book.

Whether you enjoy this book may depend on whether you find the central character endearing and resourceful or just naive and lost. "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore" made me smile but it was so gentle and so slight that it didn't make a lasting impression. I assume that the ubiquity of the book is attributable to the fact that it has a clever title, is easy to read and envisions a MacBook-wielding, nerdy, website designer as heroic.

Reading "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore" was a fine way to pass a couple of idle afternoons but if I'd bought a physical copy rather than an audiobook, it would be on its way to the second-hand bookstore by now.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Cheree Smith on 04-08-14

Loved this book - entertaining and well written

Would you consider the audio edition of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore to be better than the print version?

Yes - the writing style definitely lent itself to an audio book

What did you like best about this story?

The character development made the story believable and you could become invested in their adventure

Which character – as performed by Ari Fliakos – was your favourite?

Mr Penumbra

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Yes, made me smile

Any additional comments?

Definitely worth a listen

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Alistair on 03-31-18

Amazing narration, fun story.

Many audiobook narrators carry the story beautifully, but in this case it was outstanding! I feel like Ari Fliakos did a better job at telling this story than my own brain-voice could have, had I read a paper version.

And loved the story too. A light-hearted, fun mystery/adventure that I couldn’t get enough of. Loved the integration of old technology and new technology.

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