Title: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Author: Robin Sloan
Genre: contemporary, mystery, humor, adult fiction
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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 bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls.
I think my goodreads status update for this book says it all: a bookstore, mysterious eccentric characters, cons, San Francisco, and lots of humor. I don't want to tell you anything about this book because half the fun is uncovering all the layers and putting together the puzzle pieces, but how am I going to get you to read this book without a few teasers? So here we go!
1) What do computer coding algorithms and mysterious cults have in common?
Apparently, Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour bookstore. The bookstore starts out as just a night-shift job for Clay, but with the help of a computer algorithm, he discovers that there is a lot more going on here than meets the eye...
2) Google clearly runs the world.
One of the main characters is a super geeky but perky and optimistic engineer at Google. And she's AWESOME (and not just because she's a girl who likes to code). The cool thing about this book is that it mixes in fact in fiction with respect to Google's "secret" projects, and it's actually really hard to tell which is which. There's a lot of cool technology and smart people in this book, which made it a lot of fun to read.
3) Puzzles within puzzles within puzzles
If you think you are an expert at solving mysteries and putting pieces together, I'd tell you to think again. Every time you think you've cracked one mystery, you find out another secret or layer to the mystery that turns everything on its head. I loved how there were so many elements to this story, from the history of typefaces to the almost supernatural bookstore cults to unearthing secret rooms that hide in plain sight. You never know where this book will take you!
4) Humor of every kind
There's satire, there's wit, there's "straight out of a sitcom"...basically if you have even the smallest inkling of a funny bone, you will be laughing.
If this hasn't convinced you to read this book (SAN FRANCISCO! BOOKSTORE! HUMOROUS, ENDEARING, GEEKY CHARACTERS! MYSTERY! ADVENTURE! ROMANCE! LIFE ITSELF!), clearly I'm not doing my job very well.
GO READ THIS BOOK.