Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (Sloan)

It’s been a slow stretch. I usually read a few things at once, and at least one of them excites me. But I’ve been immersed in a pretty disappointing trio, and this was the first book to reach the finish line. Sloan has a concept and a voice, but the execution here is poor. Maybe ‘poor’ is not the right word; it’s thin. And 288 pages of thin is not too energizing. There’s much here that’s clever. But it’s tough to sustain clever or to make it meaningful. Sloan wants to honor the intersection of books and technology and have us consider the difference between appearance and reality. He has an eye for a setting, but his main voice is a bit too frat-boyish at times. Characterization is minimal; everyone is in the book for one purpose only, including (unfortunately) the characters who spend a lot of time on stage. Though sentimental, the ending works. Anything else would’ve pushed the plot over the top.


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