The beginning of this book was so promising. I mean for a super book nerd like me, what can be better than a story revolving around a book store and a secret society. I also felt somewhat bonded to the narrator since he had lived in Providence and had been part of the RISD community. Lots of folks from this tiny state end up in San Francisco so it all sounded good.
The patrons of the store are quirky and add to the mystery with the books on the high shelves. There is also a pattern linked to the books which is a really a secret code and so on and so forth. When Clay, our fearless young hero, begins his job at Mr. Penumbra's there is the promise of a lot of mystery and cool things. He is curious, has programming skills and a Mac - what could be better. There is also a bad guy, mysterious cult-like group, and a historical font. Who doesn't like learning about fonts!? As Clay starts to unravel the mystery around Mr. Penumbra we get to meet Clay's friends and his love interest, Kat. We also get a sorta kinda inside look at Google which is fictionally (I think) neat. Kat is the uber modern girl who has several of the same t-shirts, can rule the world with a smart phone but doesn't know how to 'use' the NY Times. This is where I give Sloan a lot of credit, he can write characters.
Unfortunately, towards the middle the story ends up being/feeling corny. The battle is not that great and if you can imagine the sound of a tire losing air, that is what ultimately happens. And poof the reader is left looking at the book wondering what in the world happened.