Wednesday, March 25, 2015

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

Title: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Author: Robin Sloan
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux
Length: 304 pages
Original Publishing Date: October 2nd, 2012
Series: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore #1
Where I got it: Audiobook from the e-library
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads: 
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

Bloggers Note: You may remember that I wrote about being recommended this book by a highly intoxicated young man at a bar. He was very insistent that I read it and raved on and on and on about how it would change my life. In all honesty, this turned me off from this book for a while. However, after hearing raving reviews and seeing all the awards the book has won, I decided to give it a try. Boy, am I glad I did.
Main characters: 3.5/5

If I'm honest with myself, Clay was was one of the weaker aspects of this novel. Mostly, in the fact that he was forgettable and didn't have strong personality characteristics that identified him. I liked that he was sort of floating in a quarter-life crisis sort of aimlessness, after the recession forced the close of the company he was working for. I felt a lot of connection to him, especially as a recent post-grad. I understood what he liked, even if I don't like those things myself. There was a lot of good set up. But I didn't feel like I understood the depths of where his emotions or feelings came from.

Secondary characters: 4.5/5

Kat was a perfect foil to Clay. Where he was cautious, she would dive in head first. I love that the characters weren't always entirely likeable, but they fit at a good place on the likeable/realistic scale. Kat was the perfect example. She was so entirely driven that she could ignore logic or people's feelings. My one critique of any of the

Sloan's description of these characters is so on-point as well, that I feel like I know who they are in only a paragraph. That, ladies and gentlemen, is skill. It's the kind of telling, not showing, that works, but then on top of that, Sloan also shows you their personality, so by the end, you feel like you know them entirely.

Writing style: 5/5

As much as I wanted more depth and complexity from Clay, I had to give Sloan credit: man, could he create one heck of a writing voice. The sassy voice of Clay's was one of the few ways that I felt he truly stood out, and it made me understand how he felt about everything that was happening.

Sloan's writing is quick and witty. These are two things I really like. There are no giant paragraphs full of self-righteous flowery descriptions that take twenty sentences to do what Sloan can do more efficiently (and notably with more entertainment) in one. I have no negatives on the writing.

Plot: 5/5 
Yassssss.... I approve. First of all, I loved the clever mystery that developed. It is a delightful blend of quirky and fanciful, of old and new, of geeky and vogue, of modern and ancient. I was swept away in the world and I adored the whole journey.

I also just want to point out a rebuttal to some issues that others had. Some people claim that this is a whole big advertisement for Google, but I entirely disagree. In fact, I think it highlights more the failure of modern technology to take the place of the human mind and human emotions.

Ending: 5/5

I absolutely loved the ending. It worked out so perfectly and hit everything that I wanted it to. Not gonna lie, I was listening to it at work at 5am in the morning and I don't know if I was just really tired or if it was that impactful, but I definitely started tearing up at the ending.

Best scene: All of them. They were perfect. I really can't choose

Reminded Me Of: The Da Vinci Code meets Harry Potter

Positives: Everything

Negatives: Clay's characterization could be a little stronger, Kat was a manic pixie dream girl

Cover: So pretty and simple! And I heard it glows in the dark?

Verdict:  This is a perfect book. Love it like I do, okay?

Rating:  9.2 / 10 (5 stars)

Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

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