The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls.
This is a deceptively simple book. On the surface its an easy summer read about a bookshop and a mystery involving a secret cult. A book not requiring a huge amount of brain power but guaranteed to keep you interested during the long summer evenings. However while this is indeed true, it is also much more.
Hidden beneath an enjoyable tale are some interesting comments on a variety of issues. That the quest for knowledge is rarely easy, but often more rewarding for it. That there are no shortcuts, though that doesn’t mean you can’t use modern inventions to smooth the path a little. That the quest for immortality is not about finding a way to live forever but ensuring you contribute to the world, be it in a small way or big way.
Big questions aside this is probably one of the nerdiest books I’ve ever read, though not due to the subject matter particularly but due to the characters. There are few books I’ve read with such a host of nerdy characters (and I mean this is a good way. It’s like a book version of the Big Bang Theory. We have the usual suspects. The lovable nerdy guy, the one who has made his fortune in computers and the super smart, nerdy yet beautiful girl. Then of course, as required for group on a quest, the wise old man. As someone who is definitely a nerd it was interesting to read a book where all the characters are nerds, and not just the trusty sidekick, and that their nerdiness was expressed in a variety of ways not just as a knowledge of computers etc (though there was plenty of extremely nerdy computer talk). They were all also fairly normal (no Sheldon’s) which also made a nice change. I know, oh my god nerds with social skills, shock horror!!
All in all it was an enjoyable book, an easy read which makes you think.