author : doug dorst, j.j. abrams
pages : [hardcover] 457
memorable quote : It’s not a bad way to live once you let go of the idea that you deserve more.
favorite characters : jen & eric
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 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 was really excited to read this book because it’s really like two novels in one. Ship of Theseus is printed in full, but the really interesting story to me was the one told in its margins. Everyone teaches you not to write in books, but I think this is the book that has me convinced that writing in them can only make them more interesting. Jennifer and Eric communicate with each other as they each analyze the book (which was really cool to see, maybe because I’m an English major myself and need to do these things on a regular basis), get to know one another, and also try to solve the mystery of who Straka truly was.
I rented this book from the library so I’m not sure if all of the supplementary materials–postcards, little notes, and maps–that are shoved between the pages of the book were there. I guess I’ll never know, but with what I had I was able to follow along with the story pretty well.
After a while, I honestly began to get bored with the Ship of Theseus part of the book. It read like a classic, true, and I can really respect how the writer had the style mimic an older book. But that isn’t the kind of thing I’m anxious to read during my free time–not when I have action, suspense, and a love story all packed into the margins of the book, written in brightly colored inks so my eyes are drawn there before the actual text.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who has the time to sit with it for a while. It’s fairly dense, but shouldn’t be intimidating. Once you’re interested, you’ll definitely want to keep reading. I feel like there are so many clues and codes that weren’t pointed out by Jennifer and Eric but that the reader could find. Unfortunately, the book needs to go back to the library before I can spend that much time trying to figure out all of its mysteries. I’d say try to solve them for yourself and see what you might find.