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Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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Old Customs in New Eras

Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, does an outstanding job of creating a world thriving under the nose of today’s modern society. He also rewards his readers with an unforgettable journey which combines scholarly culture with new technologies. His writing style also exceeds expectation, especially when it comes to describing settings and giving the narrating character a consistent voice throughout the entire novel.

This book smoothly connects aspects of real, modern-day life to the idea that an underground society of bookworms and puzzle solvers exists in the heart of New York and in bookstores around the world. Therefore, the reader becomes immersed in the centuries-old struggle while still maintaining the 21st century setting and technology. It also contains a great deal of humor, from Dungeons and Dragons references to simple situational comedy and misunderstandings. This book is enjoyable and takes the reader on a journey to eternal life and back.

Sloan uses imagery in his writing to paint pictures in the reader’s mind, whether it is Mr. Penumbra’s blue eyes and gray pea coat or the underground cave-like library where members of the Unbroken Spine study to find the secrets to everlasting life. Above all this literary artistry, the author maintains the voice of Clay—the main character—and his reactions, ideas, and emotions. When I read this book, I felt like I was right alongside Clay, unearthing the secrets of the Unbroken Spine and cracking the codes of old philosophers. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is a must-read, especially if you are looking for a mild read and a feel-good plot that challenges outdated knowledge and our modern day society’s take on eternal life.

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