S. by J.J. Abrams, Doug Dorst
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Publication Date: October 29, 2013
Genre: Fantasy, Action & Adventure
One book. Two readers. A world of mystery, menace, and desire.
A young woman picks up a book left behind by a stranger. Inside it are his margin notes, which reveal a reader entranced by the story and by its mysterious author. She responds with notes of her own, leaving the book for the stranger, and so begins an unlikely conversation that plunges them both into the unknown.
The book: Ship of Theseus, the final novel by a prolific but enigmatic writer named V.M. Straka, in which a man with no past is shanghaied onto a strange ship with a monstrous crew and launched onto a disorienting and perilous journey.
The writer: Straka, the incendiary and secretive subject of one of the world’s greatest mysteries, a revolutionary about whom the world knows nothing apart from the words he wrote and the rumors that swirl around him.
The readers: Jennifer and Eric, a college senior and a disgraced grad student, both facing crucial decisions about who they are, who they might become, and how much they’re willing to trust another person with their passions, hurts, and fears.
The Book of All Gimmicks
This is not your normal book, one can even argue that it is an art form in its own right. The pages were artificially aged, with stains and due date stamps at the back to make it look very much like an old library book. There were handwritten (printed of course) along the book margins, as well as very realistic attachment, photo, postcards, and letters to be read together. It is a story within a story.
The notes along the margins were my favorite. It told of a “love story” between an senior and ex-grad student, of how they found each other on the margins of the book. The idea and concept was just astounding. I loved their banter.
The story, however, not so much. Jen was a very weak character. She often complained about her school work and parents. And, I do mean, VERY OFTEN. It gets very annoying at about the 5th or 6th time. I guess the message was about finding oneself. Are we sure we’re on the path that we want? It was a nice message. I just didn’t like the execution of it. Eric was equally frustrating, how he just didn’t want to step outside of his comfort zone and preferred to “stay in the book”. It took him forever to get out of his “shell”. Jen, whom had no patience with her parents, was very yielding when it came to Eric, even so much as to abandon her real work and spent time researching and “chatting with” him instead. While the “chatting” was cute, I had to ponder how it played out “realistically”. They must had had to go get the book at least 5 times a day? Did they not have other things to do? mmm…
Now, the main story (and the margin scribbles related to them). It is slow, long, and drawn out and completely confusing, not to mention boring at times.
- S. could somehow ended up at another place magically, no explanation whatsoever.
- There were way too many authors that could be Straka, and there wasn’t enough background information about them. I often felt like I stepped into the middle of a conversation.
- What was the reason with the sewing again?
It did not help that I was following Jen and Eric story at the same time, while stopping and going back to the main story and vice versa. There were lots of things that remained unexplained, even towards the end of the book. So, where did the ship come from? Who exactly was S. again? I think the general idea was…. it didn’t matter. It is what it is. To me, that is just annoying. But, because this is such a cool book, I had to grind my teeth to finish it.