“Walking the stacks in a library, dragging your fingers across the spines -- it's hard not to feel the presence of sleeping spirits.
Quirky, geeky and genuinely funny. A mystery of a secret society involving codes, ancient history and books. Endless stacks and piles of books. You could perhaps describe "Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore" as a joyous version of "The Da Vinci Code" (with less murder and crime, and more Google and books).
This book will take you on an incredible journey through dimly lit cellar-libraries with dusty books, Google's headquarters with the newest technology, lonely apartments and artsy miniature cities. You will wander through San Francisco, jump on a train and end up in New York. You will meet art students, millionaires, accomplished computer-hackers, marketing and PR-employees and Mr. Penumbra himself.
Mr. Penumbra and his bookstore was always my favorite part of this book; a mysterious man with a friendly voice and filled bookshelves. A seemingly all-knowing middleaged man with a love for books and reading combined with an incredibly rare curiosity for technology. His presence and his philosophies filled the book, and I adored it.
The cute and geeky Cat, the millonaire Neel and the main character, Clay, were lovely additions as well, coloring every page with their own peculiarities and quirks. Their combined abilities and talents allow the plot to come so gracefully together - and underlines the beautiful importance of friendship, which is essential to the book.
Clay is a lovely narrator with his constant sarcasm and many musings on people/marketing/books/technology. His lookout on life is both inspiring and helplessly funny.
“Neel takes a sharp breath and I know exactly what it means. It means: I have waited my whole life to walk through a secret passage built into a bookshelf.
Perhaps the big mystery wasn't so mysterious after all - the sudden anti-climax was inevitable and the final conclusion was predictable. But it didn't matter to me, because it was so well-crafted and incredibly well-written. The secret society made the characters able to explore the conflict and transition from books to e-readers, from old print to new technology - something we all find relevant and interesting.
The epilogue is one of my favorite parts of this book. Sloan draws the reader in, and paints a complete and vivid picture of every fate and every life represented in the story. With an elegant circular motion the story ends the exact same place it started; with a reader holding a book.
This is a page-turner, and I turned the last page with a soft smile playing on my lips.
“After that, the book will fade, the way all books fade in your mind. But I hope you will remember this:
A man walking fast down a dark lonely street. Quick steps and hard breathing, all wonder and need. A bell above a door and the tinkle it makes. A clerk and a ladder and warm golden light, and then: the right book exactly, at exactly the right time.