To quote Blair on GR (whose description I thought was excellent and right on):
It's a mystery/adventure set in San Francisco, revolving around an out-of-work marketeer and web designer who takes a job as a clerk at the odd little bookshop of the title. He soon realises that there is more to Mr. Penumbra's than meets the eye, and together with a group of his friends, he embarks on a mission to get to the bottom of the shop's real purpose. What follows is a fantastical series of events involving an international secret society and almost impossibly complex codes hidden inside a series of books. It's a collision of ancient mystery and very modern, internet-savvy characters.
Except none of that really starts until the last third of the story. I loved the ideas and I really liked most of the characters that the author created, but something never quite gelled for me. There are some great passages like the following:
“So I guess you could say Neel owes me a few favors, except that so many favors have passed between us now that they are no longer distinguishable as individual acts, just a bright haze of loyalty. Our friendship is a nebula.”
So while I wasn't as enthralled and OMG as I had thought I'd be, I did enjoy the read for the most part. The juxtaposition of books vs the internet/technology gave rise to some humourous and thoughtful insights and the important thing to take away from all this is an imperative READ!
(NB: I paused in the reading of this book so I could read Kingdom of Scars.)