S. written by Doug Dorst and concept by J.J. Abrams
"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.”
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Confession: I read S. for the concept. I mean the idea behind the design and the intertwining stories of Eric, Jessica, S, and Straka is genius and I applaud J.J. Abrams for it. The postcards, newspapers, letters, maps drawn on napkins, just wow. But there’s so much more to this novel.
Doug Dorst is the real talent behind S. and I found myself getting lost in his words. Certain quotes hit me like a ton of bricks, making me dissect each page with the intensity of a copy editor. The plot in general didn’t make much sense to me and…
hover for spoilers.
Also, Eric and Jennifer’s assumptions were a little unbelievable and I was convinced that they were just guessing. But I do have a nagging feeling that there is so much I missed and that I haven’t even scratched the surface of the mystery. I think S. is the kind of novel you have to read three times to fully understand: once for the experience, twice for the story, and a third for the details (kind of like Lost - damn you JJ Abrams).
Overall, you have to read it. You have no choice. Read it for the experience, for all the little odds and ends tucked away in the pages, for the writing in the margins, for the amazing design (there were legitimate ink stains on the pages, also it smells like a library book and I don’t know how). But watch out: aesthetic isn’t everything and the writing will blow your mind.
"You can’t ever know in advance. Big decisions require faith."
"The feeling, for those seconds, is glorious-it reminds him that he is human, that he is so insignificant as to be utterly free, and he is being guided along gracefully, lovingly, by the hand of Nature-and it frees him,however transiently, from all worry and fear and fury and grief. ‘I enjoyed that,’ he says aloud, as much to the stars as to the rower."
"You’re born a certain way. Later you get to decide how much you want to fight/change that."
"The creation of art requires a descent into the dark."