Top critical review
Good but there are better books along the same lines
3 September 2018
I like reading, books and book shops but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I like reading books about reading, books or book shops but I was intrigued and wanted a quick read, so I popped this on my Kindle.
The story’s main character is Clay who, after losing his job, is at a loss as to what to do with himself. He is in his early 20’s and feels like everyone around him has got their life together, except him. Late one night, Clay spots a sign for a night clerk in a 24 bookstore and after a brief ‘interview’ with Mr Penumbra, Clay is offered the job for the night shifts. Clay’s job to serve the eclectic customers and write down every exact detail of the encounter. As time goes on we realise that there is a lot more going on in the store than in a traditional book shop and we follow Clay and his friends as we figure out what is going on.
This book seems to have everything that I should love; an international secret society, impossibly complex codes hidden inside a series of books, an ancient mystery, modern solutions, tech-savvy characters, villains and heroes. But this book fell short for me.
I could not shake the feeling that this story was Ready Player One all over again. The main character, sub-characters, storyline and rhythm are all the same (although the basis of the story is different). I loved Ready Player One and I found myself drawing comparisons and Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore was nowhere near as good.
The characters in Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore are really typical; a likable but annoying male lead, a millionnaire genius best friend, and intelligent young woman with good connections and who is also a love interest, an artist, a bad guy who looks mean and a doddery and mysterious old man. The story overall is really a YA story and is not a challenge to read and with the book being so short there is no real time to go into the backstory or gain any real insights into the characters and the ending seemed to approach really quickly. The book is very pro Kindles and Google, so much so that it feels a bit like advertising sometimes.
Overall, I think if you read this with an open mind and no real expectations, you’ll find a likeable, quick and very easy read but I think it's been done before and done better in Ready Player One.