This is a Tale That Will Yank You Away & Swirl You Up...,
This review is from: Mr Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore (Paperback)
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
By Robin Sloan
This is a tale that will yank you away and swirl you up into a fast-track frenzy of mystery, IT high-tech Google-stuff and a touch of romance. This is the PERFECT holiday book in that it not only gives you something to ponder as you're doling out Tom & Jerry's, but digs into the imagination of what we choose to believe and there's secret codes too! I found this gem while in Toronto not too long ago and yes, I was drawn in by the cover-art, but it is what's inside that hooked me and good.
Meet Clay Jannon, a thirty-something recently unemployed IT dude in search of a job--any job. Living in downtown San Francisco and with an open mind and an empty check book Clay sets out to apply for just about anything he could find. Jobs in his field were gone, (marketing designer for a bagel company) offices were shuttered and work sent overseas. With rent looming and his choices dwindling, he took a chance and answered an ad;
"HELP WANTED. Late shift. Specific Requirements. Good Benefits."
Written in first person and filled with witty dialogue and paced like lightening, you never know what is going to walk into the story next. Clay becomes the night clerk at Penumbra's and is told that the collection of rare books in the `waybacklist' is for special clients and they are to be carefully observed during each store visit. In fact, Clay is told to make very specific journal entries as to what they were wearing, their particular mood and what old tome they `check-out'. The weirdness begins as most transactions in this shop don't involve money.
One of the many aspects of this novel I found really refreshing was how author Sloan mixed old-fashioned paper books with high-tech wizardry all the way from the dusty shelves of the bookstore to Google's main brain-house and back again and again.
"Ah books...You know, old books are a big problem for us (at Google). Old knowledge in general. We call it OK. Old knowledge. Did you know that ninety-five percent of the internet was only created in the last five years? But we know that when it comes to all human knowledge, the ratio is just the opposite."
My one negative comment of Sloan's tale is the way he drops heavy thoughts into the story and then simply moves on. Like the above quote, filled with a message that is far from light and airy. Yet it's never explored and only seems to serve the purpose of confusion for the reader wondering where the heck that fits in?
I won't reveal what the secret codes lead to or mean or offer, it's all wrapped up and solved by the last page and is truly worth the read as well as the final surprise reveal. One thing this book does with such a wonderful flair is leaves you with the reminder that old-fashioned books will always hold a prominent place of importance in our world.