Blair’s review of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Steffi (new)

Steffi Only three stars? Everyone seems to be raving about this one! Looking forward to your review.

message 2: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Definitely agree with your assessment. There's no tension in the story at all.

message 3: by Ben (new)

Ben Babcock Robin Sloan did an interview with CBC's Spark in which he discusses some of his inspiration behind writing this book, and it got me interested. I have to say, however, that even from listening to the interview I became worried the book wouldn’t have a very compelling plot. Sometimes it seems like these sorts of contemporary “ideas” books have lots of exciting motifs but the author occasionally forgets about the story….

message 4: by Ron (new)

Ron Reich I agree with you 1000%. Thought I'd love this when I heard the description but was overall pretty let down. It was good not great. I really like Ready Player One though.

message 5: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Yes! It reminded me of Ready Player One too - I'm glad I'm not crazy!

message 6: by Cathy (new)

Cathy Well, there is no need for me to write my review because I can just write "what she said" - I agree with every word you wrote!

message 7: by Dobber (new)

Dobber Agree! Plus, there never seemed to be any reason whatsoever why this captivated people for 500 years. And the ending was very YA.

message 8: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne I agree mostly. I can't finish it. I don't care about the mystery. I like your review much better than this juvenile novel.

message 9: by Josephine (new)

Josephine Another vote for "Thank deity, I'm not the only one who was reminded of Ready Player One" I couldn't pinpoint any single point of similarity between the two...

message 10: by Gerri (new)

Gerri Wayland I agree. I might give it to my 11 year old son to read. Good teenager fiction.

message 11: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth  (Thoughts From an Evil Overlord) Very thoughtful review. I enjoy YA, so I'll probably still give it a try.

message 12: by Noetic_Hatter (new)

Noetic_Hatter I agree with the RPO comparison, though it does not insult our intelligence with deus ex machinae or sudden reveals a la Ready Player One.

message 13: by Rannie (new)

Rannie I also gave the book 3 stars for reasons you elaborated very well. I thought perhaps the author was not as interested in the fiction as in wrapping a potent tease of technical possibilities within a palatable confection of heroquest to waken the sleeping curiosity of non-technical readers.

message 14: by Annabel (new)

Annabel Smith I didn't like RPO either, and I agree very much about it feeling like a YA book with too many convenient details. Overrated!

message 15: by Maciek (new)

Maciek Blair, I also had the same impression regarding Codex - which I've read a while ago and also was not crazy about. The two books are definitely very similar.

message 16: by Mike (new)

Mike Interesting. I despised Ready Player One, stopped reading on about page six, and loved this book. Depends on what you like, I suppose.

message 17: by Noetic_Hatter (new)

Noetic_Hatter Mike wrote: "Interesting. I despised Ready Player One, stopped reading on about page six, and loved this book. Depends on what you like, I suppose."

Mike, RPO doesn't get any better, I promise you.

message 18: by William (new)

William Torgerson I was thinking YA today too. I had some good laughs reading this book and there was an underlying message about literacy I think. Granted, I'm listening and I've got just the very end to go.

message 19: by Jeanne (new)

Jeanne I was intrigued by the mix of old and new...particularly while loving hard copies of books yet reading this as an ebook.

message 20: by Courtney (new)

Courtney I had read ready player one right before this book and i also felt it was the same narrative voice!

message 21: by Ms. Smartarse (new)

Ms. Smartarse I haven't read Ready Player one, but other than that I totally agree with your review.
Not sure what it is about the writing style, but it just didn't... grip me... Perhaps it's the way you pointed it out: too juvenile.

message 22: by s.penkevich (new)

s.penkevich Fantastic review. I've been on the fence about giving this one a go, and your criticisms of it definitely fit with my apprehensions of the book. Perhaps I'll try Ready Player One instead someday before this one. Really wonderful review though!

message 23: by Alicia (new)

Alicia I so agree with your review. This is definitely YA genre.I don't see what the hype was all about. With Neel being a millionaire you would think he would have given his best friend a job.

message 24: by Muthu (new)

Muthu Indian I'm past midway through the book, and I realize it is generally YA fiction with themes like 'Da Vinci Code'. Glow-in-thre-dark jacket is the nice take away from the book! 2.5/5

message 25: by Lisa (new)

Lisa spot on review.

message 26: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Forman Ditto! Felt like it would be a waste to try and say it better.

message 27: by Deana (new)

Deana Maybe it's due to the fact that I haven't read the books the reviewer refers to, but I actually enjoyed this novel. The story reminded me of the story of John Henry, man against machine. John Henry lost and the machine won, but the ending is this isn't that clear-cut. Still book against digital code is a pretty interesting plot line.

message 28: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Canlas agreed, completely. i sort of stopped caring about the "mystery" or the fate of the characters. really wanted to like it. disappointing.

message 29: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Ditto. I thought "Da Vinci Code meets Harry Potter." Or the book version of National Treasure. The comparison in the description

message 30: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen I couldn't agree more with your take!

message 31: by Sara (new)

Sara This review is exactly spot-on.

message 32: by Verusex (new)

Verusex Mr penumbra is fun, Ready, Player one is a dark and depressing catalog listing of computer and 80s nostalgia delivered without the joy it deserves. Maybe, I missed what you enjoyed about "Ready, Player One" because I was there and found the development of personal computing exciting and fun ... but never enjoyed those 80s TV shows.

message 33: by Debra (new)

Debra I was trying to figure out how to write a review about this book. I didn't hate it but I was incredibly disappointed. Your review perfectly described how I felt about the book. It could have been an interesting story, but it just seemed to juvenile and convenient (one too many deus ex machina).

message 34: by L. (new)

L. Lawson Reminded me of RPO, too (which was a phenomenal book). Spot on review.

message 35: by Regency (new)

Regency I read RPO last month. No wonder this book wasn't working for me. I couldn't really stand the narrator of RPO either. Thanks for letting me know it wasn't just me.

message 36: by Cristine (new)

Cristine Anthony Butler Funny you should say YA, I thought all along that my 15 year old would like it! A good read otherwise for me.

message 37: by Libby (new)

Libby This book reminded me of 'Ready Player One' also but instead of that making me like this book LESS it made me like it MORE (because I really liked RPO).

As to your "way too many convenient details" argument: most books with a puzzle-solving plot have convenient details.

message 38: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne I thought it was a fun, lighthearted book and I enjoyed it. I have not read Ready Player One. I like the humor, I liked the voice of the main character, even though he reminded me of other first person, young male characters (even Percy Jackson somewhat). Didn't matter to me, I still enjoyed the read. I do agree with the YA comments - upon completing it - I told my 13 year old son that I thought he'd enjoy it. (I also could relate to the character's "quest" scenario as I was a total fantasy geek growing up)

message 39: by Nicole (new)

Nicole Reminded me of Ready Player One too and maybe that's one of the reasons I didn't like it very much. You listed a number of the others: "lack of a properly detailed backstory; two-dimensional characters (the bad guy is a collection of clichés and a damp squib all at once); way too many convenient details (Neel is a millionaire who can pay for everything the group needs, Kat can get them into Google and utilise all the company's resources for their task, etc). There's no real tension or peril: it's too obvious any obstacles are going to be overcome easily". Not worth my time.

message 40: by Book Me (new)

Book Me Baby I wholehartedly agree with this review. The story felt very YA to me as well, and while I have read some great YA, I don't usually read that genre. Very disappointed in this book. I was so bored, I really didn't care if they solved the mystery or not. Definitely would not consider this adult fiction.

message 41: by Teryl (new)

Teryl I appreciate the detail in your review. I haven't read the two books you mention, so will have to do so to compare. I liked your review very much, though.

message 42: by Aurélie (new)

Aurélie Haven't read this book yet but the story seems very Codex-like, which I surprisingly didn't like that much considering Lev Grossman's The Magicians series is up there with my fave books.
Anyway, I guess I'll have to try this one! :)

message 43: by Teryl (new)

Teryl Rachel wrote: "Ditto. I thought "Da Vinci Code meets Harry Potter." Or the book version of National Treasure. The comparison in the description"

Very apt.

message 44: by Martyn (new)

Martyn Well, I wish I'd written your review! Great review and you hit the nail on the head for me on some of this stuff. Particularly your last two paragraphs.

message 45: by Brett (new)

Brett Unintentionally hilarious that a 500 year old cult of cryptographers (and also Google with all it's computing resources) were unable to solve a substitution cipher. Methods to solve such ciphers by frequency analysis were first published by Arabic mathematician Abu al-Kindi in the 9th century.

message 46: by Martyn (new)

Martyn Brett wrote: "Unintentionally hilarious that a 500 year old cult of cryptographers (and also Google with all it's computing resources) were unable to solve a substitution cipher. Methods to solve such ciphers by..."

Absolutely Brett! More of that "thin" research by the author...

message 47: by Joyce (new)

Joyce I agree, although I thought this was a million times better than Grossman's Codex, which I thought was horrible and full of holes and inaccuracies. This was definitely juvenile feeling. I still have Ready Player One on my kindle. I'll have to read it now!!

message 48: by Brandie (new)

Brandie Great review! You pointed out a few things I glossed over and didn't think to much about (I was listening to it on audio as I worked). Now that you've compared it to the Codex and another book, I'm definitely going to have to check those out! Thanks!

message 49: by Maita (new)

Maita Domaoal Agree. There was no tension and I wasn't excited. I gave my copy to my sister. Ready Player One rocks!

message 50: by Valerie (new)

Valerie Definitely had a YA feel--the younger characters seemed like overgrown teenagers with jobs and money, and the descriptions of some of the older characters showed an immature incredulity that a person can live past the age of 35.

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