Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore isn’t described as a Young Adults title, but it has that tone.  Considering the quality of today’s YA works, that shouldn’t be taken as a slight, nor is it intended as one.  It does mean that Robin Sloan spins a fast-paced enjoyable yarn, more memorable for the sense of adventure and wonder than for its carefully realized characters and poetic passages.

That sense of thrill and enjoyment is really difficult to sustain, especially when the thrill comes from a sequence of puzzles that really aren’t as clever looking in from the real world.  Robin’s savvy about the feel of tech people and the joy of a good puzzle, but he’s not Neal Stephenson. Those impressions and that excitement carried the story, even for a nit-picker like me.

The plot involves a centuries-old conspiracy, the latest big thing, and the people and societies (secret and public) that make things happen in the world.  There are some nice observations about the cults and sects we all are parts of in this world and why Sloan values the ones he does. Overall a fun read.


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