In Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, author Robin Sloan does an outstanding job creating a world thriving under the nose of today’s society. He also rewards his readers with an unforgettable journey that combines scholarly culture with new technologies. His writing style exceeded my expectations, especially when it came to describing settings and giving the protagonist a consistent voice throughout the novel.
This book smoothly connects aspects of real, ordinary 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. The reader is immersed in a centuries-old struggle, but the narrative maintains a 21st-century setting with modern technology.
This book also contains a great deal of humor, from Dungeons and Dragons references to simple situational comedy and misunderstandings. It is enjoyable and takes the reader on a journey to eternal life and back.
Sloan uses imagery to paint vivid pictures in the reader’s mind, whether it’s Mr. Penumbra’s blue eyes and gray pea coat or the cave-like underground library where members of the Unbroken Spine study to find the secrets to everlasting life. Above all this literary artistry, the author maintains a distinct voice for Clay, the main character, showing his reactions, ideas, and emotions.
When I read this book, I felt like I was right beside 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 Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is a must-read, especially if you are looking for a feel-good plot that challenges outdated knowledge and our modern-day society’s take on eternal life.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.