This was awesome. I think the audiobook made it more awesome. You could hear the tension and excitement in the reader’s voice. You can hear his panic about being unemployed in the beginning, and his furtive whispers as he’s completing tasks that are secretive.
Our tale revolves around Clay, who begins his tenure as the overnight clerk at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. This place is awesome. There are regular books for sale, but there are also a vast amount of strange books in shelves that soar up to the high ceiling that Clay is told not to read. Strange people come in the bookstore requesting specific titles, and Clay is tasked with recording not only their request, but their appearance in as much detail as well. There is obviously something strange going on.
We embark on a journey to find out just what is going on, and what’s going on is strange indeed. There are conspiracies and secret societies and mysteries everywhere. It’s awesome!
Is it perfect? No, of course not! Some of the characters seem to only have one purpose, or only one thing they’re really good at. So they can be a bit one-dimensional. A lot of them are obsessive, which is keeping with the themes of the story. And, at least in my opinion, more things could have gone wrong. But perhaps that’s just me.
There are things that I wanted to be real, so much that I looked them up just to make sure. The Accession Table? Ha! Working in a museum, I can say that would be an amazing thing, but completely unrealistic. We’re still trying to figure out what we have at our one site, let alone trying to put them into a national database. A lot of smaller museums are still trying to input their collections into a computer at all (or not). And the giant museum orphanage in Nevada? While it would be awesome, it does not exist (yet?). And now I want to read the Dragonsong Chronicles! (Maybe Robin Sloan will write them…)
This is a wonderful world of fiction that could take place in reality. The conspiracies are not all that out there, and there are enough facts and information that make everything seem plausible. It seems real enough that I want it to be real. I want to live in a world of Penumbras and Kats and Neels and Clays. But who knows. Maybe parts of the story are more real than we know…