“An old-fashioned tale likably reconceived for
the digital age, with the happy message that ingenuity and friendship translate
across centuries and data platforms.”
“Beguiling…The plot is as tight as nesting
boxes, or whatever their digital equivalent…Sly and infectious.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“What makes Mr.
Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore so impressive is Sloan’s great gift for
storytelling and his cast of brilliant, eccentric characters. Think of this
novel as part Haruki Murakami, part Dan Brown, and part Joseph Cornell: a
surreal adventure, an existential detective story, and a cabinet of wonders at
which to marvel.”
“Sloan makes bits and bytes appear beautiful…The
rebels’ journey to crack the code—grappling with an ancient cult, using secret
passwords and hidden doorways—will excite anyone’s inner child.”
“Fantastic…I loved diving into the world that
Sloan created, both the high-tech fantasyland of Google and the ancient analog
society. It’s packed full of geeky allusions and wonderful characters, and is a
celebration of books, whether they’re made of dead trees or digits.”
“[A] winning literary adventure…Sloan grounds
his jigsaw-like plot with Big Ideas about the quest for permanence in the
“A jaunty, surprisingly old-fashioned fantasy
about the places where old and new ways of accessing knowledge meet…[Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore]
cleverly uses the technological age in the service of its fantasy…Sloan’s
ultimate answer to the mystery of what keeps people solving Penumbra’s puzzle
is worth turning pages to find out.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“One of the most thoughtful and fun reading
experiences you’re likely to have this year…There’s so much large-hearted magic
in this book.”
“An irresistible page-turning novel.”
“Part love letter to books, part technological
meditation, part thrilling adventure, part requiem…Eminently enjoyable, full of
warmth and intelligence.”
New York Times Book Review
“Robin Sloan has written this novel with rhythmic precision, and Ari Fliakos endows each of the characters with his or her own color and flavor. He makes believers of us all as Clay and his friends forge ahead on this fanciful journey – part mystery, part quest. We listen with delight and hope we can glimpse the future.
Ari Flaikos's narration convincingly captures the enthusiasm of the youthful narrator as well as the older Mr. Penumbra…Recommended for those seeking a light mystery that celebrates the digital age.
Ari Flaikos nails the young, tech-savvy, cynical Clay. However, Fliakos really shines when rendering the book's supporting cast. His take on Mr. Penumbra is so different from his portrayal of Clay that listeners might think a different actor performed it. Such is the case with nearly every character in this audio edition, all of whom Fliakos provides with distinct inflections, tones, and rhythms.
Publishers Weekly, starred review
Ari Fliakos does a fine job with MR. PENUMBRA. The novel is rife with obscure terminology drawing from a diverse wealth of linguistic sources, yet Fliakos makes few if any slips. His youthfully exuberant Clay and his tremulously throaty Mr. Penumbra fit the characters perfectly, as do the voices he selects for most of the other characters.
It is most appropriate for a novel whose denouement involves an audiobook to appear in that form…Ari Fliakos takes on a range of voices to portray the seekers engages in penetrating the mysteries of an ancient volume… [An] engaging, newfangled quest.
The Washington Post
A jaunty, surprisingly old-fashioned fantasy about the places where old and new ways of accessing knowledge meet . . . [Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore] cleverly uses the technological age in the service of its fantasy . . . Sloan's ultimate answer to the mystery of what keeps people solving Penumbra's puzzle is worth turning pages to find out.
Tess Taylor, San Francisco Chronicle
[A] winning literary adventure . . . Sloan grounds his jigsawlike plot with Big Ideas about the quest for permanence in the digital age.
Thom Geier, Entertainment Weekly
Fantastic . . . I loved diving into the world that Sloan created, both the high-tech fantasyland of Google and the ancient analog society. It's packed full of geeky allusions and wonderful characters, and is a celebration of books, whether they're made of dead trees or digits.
Jonathan H. Liu, Wired, GeekDad
Robin Sloan cleverly combines the antiquated world of bibliophilia with the pulsating age of digital technology, finding curiosity and joy in both. He makes bits and bytes appear beautiful . . . The rebels' journey to crack the code--grappling with an ancient cult, using secret passwords and hidden doorways--will excite anyone's inner child. But this is no fantasy yarn. Mr. Sloan tethers his story to a weird reality, striking a comical balance between eccentric and normal . . . The pages swell with Mr. Sloan's nerdy affection and youthful enthusiasm for both tangible books and new media. Clay's chatty narration maintains the pace and Mr. Sloan injects dry wit and comedic timing suited to his geeky everyman . . . A clever and whimsical tale with a big heart.
Man, is this book fun--especially for any book nerd who isn't in denial about living in the modern age. If you love physical books (the smell! The feel!) but wouldn't give up your iPhone for any reason, if you like puzzles and geeky allusions and bookish cults and quests, then this book is for you. It also glows in the dark.
Emily Temple, Flavorpill
What makes Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore so impressive is Sloan's great gift for storytelling and his cast of brilliant, eccentric characters. Think of this novel as part Haruki Murakami, part Dan Brown and part Joseph Cornell: a surreal adventure, an existential detective story and a cabinet of wonders at which to marvel.
Carmela Ciuraru, Newsday
Beguiling . . . The plot is as tight as nesting boxes, or whatever their digital equivalent . . . Sly and infectious.
Karen R. Long, The Cleveland Plain Dealer
Sloan isn't just exploring new ideas, but laying the groundwork for a new genre of literature. While the influence of Neal Stephenson and William Gibson is present, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is something all its own: a technocratic adventure where every riddle and puzzle is solved with very real gadgets, a humanizing reflection on technology that evokes the tone of a fairy tale, a brisk and brainy story imbued with such confidence that it will leave you with nothing but excitement about the things to come.
Kevin Nguyen, Grantland
In a time when actual books are filling up tag-sale dollar boxes, along with VHS tapes and old beepers, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore reminds us that there is an intimate, adventurous joy in the palpable papery things called novels, and in the warm little secret societies we used to call ‘bookstores.' Robin Sloan's novel is delightfully funny, provocative, deft, and even thrilling. And for reasons more than just nostalgia, I could not stop turning these actual pages.
The love child of Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus and Neal Stephenson's Reamde, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is a hugely enjoyable story of friendship, living, and the lure of the mysterious. It's a good-hearted, optimistic book about the meeting of modern technology and medieval mystery, a tonal road map to a positive relationship between the old world and the new. It's a book that gets it. Plus, you know: cryptographic cults, vertical bookshops, hot geeks, theft, and the pursuit of immortality. I loved it. And yes, I too would freeze my head.
Robin Sloan is a skilled architect, and Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is an ingeniously designed space, full of mysteries and codes. A clever, entertaining story that also manages to be a thought-provoking meditation on progress, information and technology. Full of intelligence and humor.
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is a real tour de force, a beautiful fable that is given legs by the author's bravado use of the real (Google is in there, for instance, the actual campus) to sell us on a shadow world of the unreal and the speculative. Robin Sloan comes across as so bighearted, so in love with the world--the ancient world, the contemporary world--so in love with love, in love with friendship, in love with the idea that our technical abilities can serve as conduits for beauty, that the reader is swept along by his enthusiasm. It's a lot of fun--but it's also a powerful reading experience with a wonderful undeniability.
George Saunders, in Blip Magazine
Graham Joyce, The Washington Post
An irresistible page-turning novel.
One of the most thoughtful and fun reading experiences you're likely to have this year . . . extremely charismatic . . . deeply funny . . . there's so much largehearted magic in this book . . . Sloan is remarkably gifted and has an obviously deep affection for both literature and technology.
Michael Schaub, NPR Books