Author: J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst
A literary 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 on 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 rumours 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.
S., conceived by filmmaker J.J. Abrams and written by award-winning novelist Doug Dorst, is the chronicle of two readers finding each other in the margins of a book and enmeshing themselves in a deadly struggle between forces they don’t understand. It is also Abrams and Dorst’s love letter to the written word.
I am a huge fan of Abrams so I am not at all surprised at how impressed I am at this exhilarating, innovative and all around impressive contribution to the literary landscape. How incredible to get absorbed in two stories simultaneously! Leave it to Abrams to find a way to introduce something so unique and captivating to the world of fiction.
While I think writing a review after reading S. only once may be a little premature, perhaps my remarks on first impression will be easier for me to express as I have a sense that the more times this book is absorbed, the more levels of it’s mystery stand to be uncovered. So it goes without saying, this is a heavy read. My technique for reading the book was a concurrent one. I read each page, first “Ship of Theseus” and then the margin notes by Jen and Eric. I did find my first read to take quite some time as that reading technique did feel quite disjointed and unfamiliar. While that comment seems like a negative one, I did actually appreciate the monkey wrench it threw into my usual reading habits. This book certainly forces you to be more present in the state of reading. S. is a book you read without other disruptions and only with a clear mind!
I will not pretend to have cracked the codes inside the book, nor will I pretend to understand the complexity of the story occurring in the margin notes after the first read. I think I may aim to read through the entire “Ship of Theseus” to fully grasp that story, and then go through the book again reading only the margin notes so as to fully understand all the characters that were somehow jammed into the space on the outside of the central story. Brilliant work by Doug Dorst! I am hugely impressed at the level of character development he was able to give to characters who only express themselves through short margin notes, with the occasional letter thrown into the mix!
While I would normally comment on the plot, whether or not I like the characters, or the end, or the beginning; I feel that I would rather give readers of this post the ability to form their own opinions. I, hypocritically enough, did not read any reviews prior to my read of the book for that very reason! All I will say is that if you truly love to read, you must experience this book! It is full of so many surprises!!