Sunday, 15 June 2014

Book review: 'Mr Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore' by Robin Sloan

This is a book I've had my eye on for a while (I mean books, google, secret cults, what more could you want?). It's mainstream contemporary fiction rather than science fiction, but is one geeks will enjoy. Yes you, you know who you are! Anyway here's my review which will also be going up on Goodreads soon.

Clay Jannon, formerly chief web designer at the New Bagel Company, is unemployed and looking for a job. There aren’t that many good jobs about, what with the recession and all, so when he walks past a bookshop with a job advert in the window for a night clerk he soon applies. It doesn’t take him long to realise this is one seriously weird book shop, doubling as some sort of library for a weird secret cult. Or something like that. With the help of friends including best friend from school Neal who made millions from boob simulation software, and girlfriend Kat who works at Google, he sets out to try and figure out what is going on…

This is a very fun, albeit strange book. It successfully brings together the world of old books, even older mysteries and modern technology in a way I’m not sure anyone has before. It is very up to date, and talks a lot about Google, iMacs and Kindles, OSR software and hacker communities. Computer geeks will love this book, as will book lovers. If you are a computer geek and a book lover, well you are probably already firing up Amazon to buy the book…

I enjoyed the book a lot. It was a fun book, you never quite knew what was going to happen next, and the many culture and tech references dropped in were great to see. It might have hidden mysterious and secret societies in common with The Da Vinci Code but it is not a thriller. There’s never really any great physical danger for the characters, it is much slower paced and gentler than that, and all the better for it.

I debated whether to give this book a 4 or 5 star rating. I gave it 5 in the end, it won’t be my favourite book of the year, it didn’t have characters to fall in love with, a plot that keeps you glued to the page or truly beautiful writing, but it was a lot of fun. And that’s what books should be all about.

If you are after a bit of bookspotting, well it's been a busy weekend and no opportunity to spot anything. Working from home tomorrow, then at sport's day at my daughter's school in the afternoon, so next opportunity for Bookspotting is Tuesday.