The shelves were packed close together, and it felt like I was standing at the border of a forest – not a friendly California forest, either, but an old Transylvanian forest, a forest full of wolves and witches and dagger-wielding bandits all waiting just beyond moonlight’s reach. There were ladders that clung to the shelves and rolled side to side. Usually those seem charming, but here, stretching up in to the gloom, they were ominous. They whispered rumors of accidents in the dark.

Clay Jannon is an unemployed marketer and web designer. His days are spent surfing the web unsuccessfully obtaining employment. That is until he comes across Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore a narrow, vertigo-inspiring bookstore packed with books on its skyscraper shelves. Mr. Penumbra hires the new night clerk on the spot. Clay didn’t know that the course of his life would change that afternoon. It only takes him a couple of days to notice peculiarities with the business and its clientele. Clay and his new love interest Kat delve into the world of a 500 year old secret society called the Unbroken Spine.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore explores the tension between new technology and old, digital versus print, working out a problem longhand instead of relying on computer assistance. Clay, his friends, and Google through employee Kat try to help Mr. Penumbra solve an age-old mystery using modern technology. Robin Sloan cleverly weaves fantasy and reality to construct an adventure tale that engages readers and makes them cheer for the ragtag bunch of codebreakers. Throughout the novel, Clay calls upon his friends, actual and virtual, to help him uncover the treasure coveted by the Unbroken Spine for centuries. This is a quick read, definitely worth checking out…AND the cover glows in the dark!
Sat, 09/28/2013 - 3:27pm