Published: October 29, 2013
Publisher: Mulholland Books
“… we create stories to help us shape a chaotic world, to navigate inequities of power, to accept our lack of control over nature, over others, over ourselves.”
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 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.
S. is a very unique and interactive book. The book looks like an old library book with writing on the margins and some inserts that are related to the story and the mystery of the author’s identity. This is 3-story in 1 book: first, we follow Jen and Eric in the margins of the book as they exchange commentaries, ideas, and notes about the book and the author; second is the mysterious identity of the author of the book that they are currently reading; and the third is the book itself, Ship of Theseus, that is said to be the last book of the author before he died. As Jen and Eric get deeper into the search about the mysterious author, we also get to understand the relevance of the storyline concerning the author’s identity.
If I am only allowed to read one book over and over again for the rest of my life, this would be it. You can read this book in 3 or more ways and it would still give you a different reading experience every time. And it has two things that I like about a book: mystery and a romance developing in the written paper with the characters falling for one another even though they haven’t seen each other yet. This book will break your heart, keep you at the edge of your seat and keep you guessing. It has everything you wanted and more. There are ciphers and codes in the book that you could solve by following the clues and it felt rewarding once you figured out the ciphers. I enjoyed every bit of the reading experience.
As a university student before, I have also done a close reading of a text like what Jen and Eric are doing in this book. I think that is the reason why I could relate to them. I almost picked up a pen and write on the book as well because I was engrossed in the story. I feel like I accidentally pick up the book in the library and discover the world of Eric and Jen along with the inserts that help them understand one another’s research. It gives you the feeling that the book is too personal and it somehow connects you with these characters. The more you read the book, the more that you will get attached to the mysterious identity of the author as well.
J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst have created a world and characters that seem real and that would make you want to conduct your own research about the whole mystery of the author. There are pieces of information mentioned by the characters that make me so intrigued that I actually want to Google it though I know that it’s purely fictional. (I tried.) There are also mentions of the mysterious author’s earlier works and I wish those are actual books that I could also read. Ship of Theseus leaves me wanting for more. I want to know this author’s works like Eric and Jen.
The only problem with this book is how to get into it. I had this book on my shelf for 5yrs and it is only now that I managed to finish this. It is a book that needs your undivided attention, especially if you are someone like me whose mind gets crazy with all the notes on the margin. But once you finally get into the book, you would surely enjoy it. However, I feel like there is a right way to read this book because if you read it in the wrong way, you would not like it as much. I’ve been checking reviews as soon as I finished the book and I can see the points of those who dislike it but I feel like this has something to do with how they read the book. To be honest, even I struggle with how I will read this book because it was confusing, I pick it up twice and I put it down both times because I know I am not doing it right. If you are someone who has a short-attention-span or does not like chaotic notes or writings, you may not like it. But you can still give it a try nonetheless, maybe you will finally make peace with the writings on the margin because I did.
If you haven’t seen this book yet on Youtube or other social media sites, check out these photos so you would understand what I am talking about with the writings in the margin and all that.
Also, I would put up a reader’s guide to this book soon so keep a lookout for that if this book intrigues you.
So that is it for this review. I hope you will check out this book!
Until next time!