Robin Sloan’s debut novel, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, takes a formula for classic intrigue and updates it for a 21st Century audience. Clay Jannon, a recent college graduate, falls victim to the Recession of 2008 and loses his web design job when the company he works for goes under. Out of necessity, he takes a job at the titular Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour secondhand bookstore. However, he soon discovers that the majority of Mr. Penumbra’s customers are part of a mysterious club, which borrows one-of-a-kind volumes seemingly filled with gibberish, and that Mr. Penumbra’s bookstore is not the only one of its kind.
But, Sloan’s novel is more than just a compelling narrative; his juxtaposition of analog and digital books cleverly explores the ways in which we have fully integrated technology into our literary lives without sounding overly pedantic. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore manages to be both fun and insightful, and a truly modern mystery.
-Rebecca Rae, Copyeditor