Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel Robin Sloan
When Clay is downsized out of his web design job, he gets a job as the night clerk at a 24-hour bookstore that has a weird backlist--books written entirely in code. The only main customers are ones who come in with a secret code, return one of the backlist titles and ask for another. Only those with the code can access the backlist and Clay has to write an extensive journal entry about it. In order to impress a cute girl from Google (and to stay entertained) Clay decides to do a 3D data map of the journals and he discovers that there’s a pattern to what books are being asked for, and the pattern makes a face. He and his tech friends then try to get computers to decode the books, which sets off an adventure and a discovery of a secret ancient society that they’re about to seriously disrupt.
On one level it’s a good exploration of old v new, print v tech, in the book world, with no real answers. On the other, it’s a fun read with romance, adventure, and a side-kick. I like how Clay actively recruits a side-kick and a wizard from his friends as they go on their quest (he reserves the role of rogue for himself.) And a good dose of poking fun of the early Millenials/late Gen-Xers of San Fransisco. There’s a lot of food for thought, but in a way that’s not heavy.
I loved it.
Oh, also, an Outstanding Book for the College Bound. And the cover glows in the dark.
Book Provided by... my local library
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