Book Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
I happened to find out about this book thru a friend whom I trust with good books and good music. I wish I can put her Facebook page here but we all have private lives we don’t want to make complicated. I was at a loss of what book to read that I almost went to my classics which I preferred not to read yet until I’m old and gray. I saw my friend’s review of this book and I quickly jumped on the idea that it must be really good.
I didn’t really expect much from the start. In fact, I was solely hanging onto the idea that the book is good for her but may not be good for me. Alas, I pressed on page after page and I have found myself growing fond of Robin Sloan’s witty way of writing. For an author I had no idea about, he was pretty good and interesting to read on even amidst boring subjects or details. In fact, Robin is well versed in making the ordinary thing look like an out-of-this-world experience. As an example, he was able to describe ordinary things like old books or old people as if they were pieces of magical items found in an ancient treasure chest. That is a sign of both creativity and genius and I’m all eyes on his writing style.
The plot seemed mysterious enough and the reader was led to believe that something dark was about. The story unfolds one mystery after the other. A pretty cool twist was the inclusion of Google Inc. as being part of doing the detective work which I found to be a great bonus since Robin was able to reveal a lot of cool stuff about the internet giant’s workings beyond just being a web-search provider.
The characters were scarce but all are well documented. Robin wrote this book with everyone hitching a ride. You would know the characters by heart simply because the effort of characterization put into them is almost too peculiar. You would recognize and learn a lot about the minor characters as well even if they barely had any dialogue or back stories to cover for them.
The story was evenly paced and it wasn’t so slow that it was dragging but it wasn’t so fast that it would frustrate the reader each time a chapter would end. And suffice to say, chapters weren’t the type that leaves cliffhangers. They weren’t so long but not short either; just right and the reader can comfortably end one without having to be bothered by ending of a page or two throughout the day.
The book was a good read overall but I’m not sure if the climax was up to par with how the whole story was led to be. I won’t spoil anything but I was a bit disappointed with what the big secret was all about and how it wouldn’t really have changed anything or made a significant impact in the world of the characters involved. Somehow, this was the book’s biggest letdown but this could also be just me being too expectant.
I’m now halfway thru Ajax Penumbra 1969 and I’ll update this blog as soon as I’m done.
UPDATE: Rating for Ajax Penumbra 1969 is 9/10. It seemed like an afterthought than a prequel at first then it made me think twice about judging it that way. I read on and I realized it could’ve been quite an adventure which may have surpassed the original book if Sloan made it any longer.