Book cover for Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

by Robin Sloan



I had high hopes for this book at the start but my enthusiasm waned towards the end. The optimism of the spunky, tech-savvy protagonist and ease in which he could achieve his goals soon grew weary as the mystery slotted into place.

I was surprised how much the book aligned with my interests, in particular data visualization, typography and cryptography. It reminds me there are many people interested in the intersection of these topics.

The fawning Google-worship proved too much. The undeserved, magic code-breaking scene betrayed what is otherwise a reasonable “hard” science fiction fantasy book. The fantasy-novel-in-a-novel failed to escape it’s use as a plot device and a vehicle for some cringe-worthy geekery. Oblique references to Harry Potter were apt considering the author’s fondness for Dumbledore-adjacent names.

All that being said I did enjoy this and I’m not sure why I’m being so harsh. The book just seemed to go off-the-rails a third of the way through and never recovered.