Saturday, February 22, 2014

Review: S.

S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

This is one of the toughest books to review that I’ve ever read. Start with a book entitled Ship of Theseus by V. M. Straka. This book looks like a library book from 1946, which is what it purports to be. This book is about an amnesiac named S. who seems to be fighting a shadowy and ominous organization. From the introduction, we learn that no one really knows who V. M. Straka is; several people who have a potential claim to the identity are introduced here. The book has been translated by “FXC,” who comments (and perhaps more) in the footnotes. THEN, there are notes written in the margins of the book by two people: Eric owns the book. He’s a (disgraced) graduate student obsessed with Straka. He’s made some notes as he’s read it. Then there’s Jen, who works in the library and found the book. She begins to write notes to Eric in the book, and he writes back. Eventually, they also leave artifacts (newspaper clippings, notes, postcards) in the book as well.

So at some point, I realized that I had no clue what was going on. This means that I’ll have to start it over again and take notes. I am prepared to do this.

This book is more of a puzzle than a “normal” book. In other words, I don’t think it’s possible to read it through (like I did) and “get” it. I’ve seen some websites where people are trying to figure out puzzles in the book that I didn’t know were even there, and there are plenty that I do know about that aren’t solved easily for the reader as they might be in a different kind of book. I’ve made a note to go back through it this summer when I have some time and see what more I can get out of it. In terms of a reading experience, I really enjoyed the story of Jen and Eric. I didn’t like Ship of Theseus much—it wasn’t the kind of book I’d read without the extras. I can’t judge this experience in the same way I usually judge a book, because it’s really more than that. If you like solving mysteries or puzzles yourself, don’t miss this book. If you want the author to solve it for you, skip it. 

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