“ Author: Scarlett Thomas / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 12 June 2008 / Genre: Modern & Contemporary Fiction / Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd / Title: The End of Mr. Y / ISBN 13: 9781847670700 / ISBN 10: 1847670700 „
* Prices may differ from that shown
My mum bought me this book from the charity shop with some others, the first things that attracted me to this book was the over the black outline on the pages. The book has a fantastic story which I wont go into too much as i don't want to ruin it.
The story itself is really interesting especially with being in another dimension, the enjoyed the fact that is switched from earth as we know it to the other dimension. Because the book has 2 sections although they are linked what happens on "earth" is just as interesting as what happens in the dimension. An aspect i also thought was interesting was how to traveled to the other dimension and the fact that Ariel was willingly doing so not forced. It was somewhat an addiction for her. I often lay in bed reading wondering if i could make the potion myself.
The what if aspect of this book is really compelling and left me questioning life as i know it, why is why blue sort of questions.
The science that is used in this booked is easy to understand even if you don't understand physics but you can understand why certain things in the story might happen without it baffling your brain. You don't need to be a physics genius to understand the concept of time travel with this book. I enjoyed the scientific aspect because it explained how the other dimension worked. I don't generally like Sci-Fi as i find the science to hard to understand however i feel the physics aspect of the story really added and played a major part in the novel. Without the physics aspect i wouldn't of enjoyed as much because it makes you feel that it is possible to travel to this dimension.
I had never read a Scarlett Thomas book before and it wasn't my usual read I couldn't out this book down i found it thoroughly enjoyable and perplexing. If you want to forget about your day and enter a new world this book is ideal! Overall i would rate this book as being fantastic!
The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas is without a doubt one of my all time faverate reads. I have read this book multiple times and each time enjoyed it as much as the last. Scarlett Thomas has created a brand of fiction that can be almost imaginitively compared to the works of children books however is most definately for the adult reader. The End of Mr Y is a masterpiece of creative writing and thoroughly draws the reader in to ponder the suspense, and plot of what will happen next. I would definately reccommend this book to someone else to read. The characters are well thought out and greatly described creativing a vivid image in the imagination of the audience. This allows us to visualise the story as it happens in great detail and creates a personal bond between the audience and characters. This book is a must read.
The End of Mr Y
The tale is presented to the reader in a book of black edged pages with black lettering on a cover of bright orange, red and yellow. A silhouette of a Victorian figure on the back adds to the general mystical, magical feel of the book and the whole look is genuinely suggestive of the content.
The idea of a fictional story woven around a fictional story may not be new but the sheer complexity of the ideas and subjects involved in the tale threatens to overpower the unsuspecting reader quite early in the story.
I had been forewarned by the friend who passed the book on to me (having herself received it with the same warning) that I would need a certain commitment to get through it. Both had given up less than a third of the way through, or were they just afraid of the "curse". More of that later......
I soon recognised this book would be not so much an entertaining piece of fantasy as a challenge to my staying power.
The End of Mr Y is in fact a book which tells the story of a book about the story of the end of a certain Mr Y, are you with me so far?
It appears that everyone who reads the book described in the story is cursed and is doomed to die which includes the main character Ariel Manto and since the book of the book is also called The End of Mr Y one can only assume......
Anyway, moving swiftly on, Ariel, a somewhat troubled soul, ponders at some considerable length on the universe, the meaning of time, space and other mind mashing abstract theories. One day she stumbles into a bookshop and finds the only existing copy of the book of the title.
The book contains a recipe for the means to travel through time and space in an alternative consciousness ......then science fiction gets Weird.
The currency of this book is quarks, electrons, the theory of relativity, matter, antimatter, parallel universes, and anything a particle physicist could lay their hands on (or not). There's some dealing in psychology and religion too for good measure. The reader is given such subjects as the "infinite divisibility of particles" and "thoughts having mass" to ponder upon while considering the cruelty of man towards his fellow beasts and human beings. The power of words and in particular the written word and the influence they have over emotions is also thrown into the pot.
The plot itself is quite straightforward and no unexpected twists that I could see but it is the way in which the reader is forced to consider such complex theories both of fantasy and science that makes the book such a challenge to read. There are scenes reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland including a giant mouse on a motor scooter, yes well I did warn you that it got weird....and some unsavoury sex which only adds to the oddness of it all. Whilst there is violence and sex and sometimes in the same context this is not overly graphic or at least I didn't find it so.
I strongly suspect that this book will be different things to different people a bit like the Troposhpere which we explore in the book. The more open and varied your interests probably the more you will see to entertain in this book.
I found the book to be well written, with interesting descriptions and theories whist a bit beyond me, as they say, it certainly stimulates the old grey matter. It is full of contradictions, a bit like theoretical science I suppose but this just serves to make you think even more. It's certainly not everyone's cup of tea (oh and that reminds me, the main characters stop for a cup of coffee in a world that doesn't exist where there is no physical pain or feeling or hunger or thirst?!!
Don't look too hard for logic or reason, accept any anomalies at face value and if you've read a passage three times and still don't get it, move on. If you can do all of that then you may just finish the book........if you really want to.
I find it really to difficult to rate this book. I don't love it, I don't hate it, it's interesting but not wildly exciting but it is original and well done. I think it loses a couple of stars on little too much vagueness of descriptions and theory although you could argue that that is the nature of the book. It has limited appeal but those who do stick with it will, no doubt, be of a deep thinking nature. All I can say is give it a go you will find it an experience if nothing else.
Every so often, you stumble across a book which is just so different, so intriguing that it reminds you all over again why you love reading so much. The End of Mr Y is one of those books.
Which is rather appropriate, really, because the main plot involves a woman - Ariel Manto - who, well, stumbles across a book that many believe no longer exist, and about which she is writing her PhD thesis. The book leads her to the secret of time travel and getting inside other people's heads to find out what they are thinking - a useful, bur also rather deadly talent.
From that plot summary, you could be forgiven for thinking that Mr Y is a fairly standard science fiction book. You'd be wrong. Instead, it is an interesting (and at times challenging) read which muses upon philosophy, religion, science, psychology and pretty much any other subject you would care to name. Oh, and along the way, it remembers to tell a really interesting story.
I'm sorry if this all sounds a little vague and confusing, but The End of Mr Y is definitely one of those books where the less you know about it going in, the more enjoyable you will find it. It is very much a journey of discovery for both the main character and the reader; the more you read, the more you find out.
Author Scarlett Thomas proves very adept at spinning a good yarn. Her novel is very definitely set in the real world, but a real world in which strange things (not just coincidences) can and do happen. She creates her characters and settings with real skill, clearly building on real people, places and experiences, so that the novel always retains a strong air of reality, no matter how outlandish it might get become at times.
Alongside this, she carefully interweaves some really quite complex scientific, philosophic or religious theories. Normally, these are not the sort of things you want to see in a book you are reading for pleasure, but they are very skilfully written into the plot so that they become an integral part of it, necessary to understand what is going on. Better still, if you are not familiar with these ideas and theories (as most of us won't be), Thomas explains them carefully. At no point, however, d o you feel as though you are being lectured or talked down to, since she skilfully constructs conversations between her characters which help the reader keep up with what is happening. Often, such conversations can come across as contrived, breaking into the "reality" the author has created and pushing the reader back out into the own "real world"; reminding them they are, after all, just reading a book. Not so with The End of Mr Y - the conversations flowing naturally from the events which the characters have just witnessed.
Nor is the cramming in of so many ideas and theories mere intellectual snobbery or an attempt by the author to show how clever she is. Although there were a few occasions when the going got a bit heavy for the most part everything which is included is essential in some way to the plot - and surprisingly enjoyable to read about. I really felt like I learned something from The End of Mr Y - and there aren't too many novels you can say that about.
Thomas succeeds in this because she carefully blends the fantastic with the mundane so that no matter how ridiculous or outlandish events become, they always retain an air of reality. So, for example, one minute her heroine is travelling through the world of minds she has discovered; the next she is having a rather sordid little liaison with a gentleman friend in the toilets of a Little Chef... for money.
All this is helped by the fact that Thomas has a very readable style. The book just grabbed me from the start. From the opening pages you are intrigued by strange little book. Indeed, even before you open the front cover, it has grabbed your attention since all the page edges are coloured black - not something you see every day! Once you start reading, you will be hooked and, despite the sometimes complex subject matter, I couldn't stop reading.
The characters in Thomas' novel were a surprising bunch. Without doubt, they are a horrible lot. Selfish, thoughtless, rude, lazy and demonstrating so much of the less pleasant side of human nature that you should hate them all. Yet, Thomas manages to achieve the opposite by making them all likeable. In truth, I'm not quite sure how she achieves this, because even the main character has few redeeming characteristics. Although not "bad" or "evil", she is incredibly self-centred, caring little for anyone or anything than her own "mission" to find out more about the book.
Yet at the same time, Manto is a deeply engaging person. Flawed, certainly, but highly interesting and someone you want to find out more about. I think that partly comes from the fact that you become so wrapped up in her discovery that you become almost as obsessed as she does. She is obsessed with finding out the "truth" about the world of minds she has discovered; you become obsessed with finding out what she is finding out!
I particularly enjoyed the book's understated, wry sense of humour. Ariel does and says the things that so many of us would want to, but daren't. She points out some of the absurdities of modern life and has sly little digs at all sorts of things. Set against the more serious, pseudo-intellectual tone of the rest of the book, this humour works very well, peppering the book with pithy observations that will have you nodding your head in agreement.
It's not a book that is going to suit everyone and, certainly, if you look at the comments and votes on Amazon, it divides opinion. I've already noted that some people might find the philosophical, psychological and religious discussions a little heavy going and feel that these drag the text down. Some will also feel uncomfortable about the sex scenes, although to be honest, to me, these didn't appear to be particularly graphic or intense (indeed, from the quotes on the back of the book, I was expecting far worse).
This is one of those "suck-it-and-see books". You'll either fall in love with it and devour it or you'll wonder how such a load of tripe ever got published and consider it a needless waste of trees. As you've probably gathered, I've got both feet firmly planted in the "enjoy" camp.
The End of Mr Y
Canongate Books, 2008
© Copyright SWSt 2011
The first thing that struck me about 'The End of Mr Y' is quite how gaudy the book and blurb are. My edition has the pages edged in black and some racy blurb that makes it sound like the pretentious crap that it physically resembles.
However, bear with the rather trite opening few chapters that make this book seem like it is going to be full of intellectual privilege. Name-dropping philosophers and '-isms' is a guaranteed way to cause me to lose all interested in a conversation and/or scream but this is one of the few things I have ever read that actually sold philosophy to me in a way that made it seems interesting and relevant.
First of all, I think your own background will make a huge difference to how you approach this book. I've personally always been rather damning and close minded about philosophy but am an utter science geek. Therefore, it was refreshing and interesting to see the arts student characters admitting they didn't understand quantum mechanics but how it was still fascinating from a philosophical point of view, rather than proclaiming it was possible to understand the lot without a jot of maths. I think this book finds a very nice middle ground in the traditional science and arts divide, where the longwinded discussions about philosophy counterpoise scientific theory and though experiments that make far more sense to me.
I think the sheer amount of philosophy and psychology in the book might make it seem a little dense to some but it is worth bearing with it. Concepts are well explained, so the reader doesn't need to suffer not having a background in field and it makes it interesting to learn a little of something new. It also feels very appropriate for the tone as the whole novel of based upon the life of a PhD student.
Which brings me on to the subject of our heroine, Ariel. Whilst Thomas has done a good job of trying to make her seem human with all her faults and foibles, she doesn't quite seem to have Atwood's gift of breathing life into the people on the page. As a result, she can come across as more than a little melodramatic at times. However, she does grow well with the plot and her supporting cast, whilst they haven't received quite the same attention, also come across as reasonably convincing characters.
The characterisation overall isn't fantastic. It's good enough to keep some suspension of disbelief but really isn't enough of a pull to keep you reading. The plot and imaginative scenes are where this book's charm lies. The basic premise of the story is Ariel's discovery of a supposedly 'lost' book, that tells the tale of Mr Y, but the secrets within it are of massive importance for the 'real' world.
It is difficult to make the plot seem as compelling as it is without divulging too much about it. It is worth sticking through Ariel's self-wallowing at the beginning to see it unfold however, as it does go on the most fantastic journey through the concepts of 'many worlds' and the human imagination.
For some, the plot will just come across as pretentious twaddle and some imaginative ideas justified by name-dropping famous philosophers and science. For others, the internal logic within the book will make it seem less fantasy and more fact, and if you enjoy a bit of the strange, then this is a fantastic page turner.
I absolutely loved this book once it had picked up a bit of momentum. It has this strange, quirky charm that just appealed to my sense of imagination and it quickly becomes a run-away page turner for this point. I hesitate to give it five stars though because there are numerous flaws. Thomas's prose will not leave you weak at the knees and the characters, whilst likeable and believable enough, will never truly wrench your heart strings. To me the book's strength lies as being a fun flit of the imagination. This is not a classic by any means, and some might argue it's a little trashy, but there is a lot to be enjoyed here.
The End of Mr. Y. I have to admit, it is a kind of intriguing title and I don't think I would have bought it, if the title was boring. The title makes you wonder. It makes you think. Questions swarm in your head such as: Who is Mr. Y? Why is it the end for him? What is this all about? It's quite a mysterious title and it sounded really interesting.
I bought this from Waterstones, with their 3 for 2 offer. Although I am unsure what the other 2 books I got were, but they are somewhere on my shelf, and I don't even know which ones, so I may have read them or I may have not. This book was on the shelf at Waterstones with a big sticker on saying 3 for 2. The whole presentation of the book made me interested in buying it. The cover is eye catching and it stands out compared to the many different covers on the shelves at the moment. The edges of the book is black, which intrigued me more, I have quite a few books, where the edges of the pages are different colours, so by then I knew I was going to buy this book. However, I did decide to read the blurb (back of the book) just in case it wasn't a book for me. Anyhow, I bought it and I'm really glad I did.
Scarlett Thomas is an author I have NEVER heard of before. This is the only book I have read from her so far (although I'm pretty sure that will change in the next year or so.) Therefore she is a new author to me. This doesn't mean she is a new author who's just started releasing books. It means that she is an author I have never come across before and so she is new to me. She has released quite a few books, her latest being "Our Tragic Universe" which sounds really good, and I plan on getting it when I have the money. She has been nominated for a few awards, and she has won an award for this book which was the Orange Prize for Fiction. I love her writing style, but I can also understand how someone can dislike it. I think this author is new and upcoming, and maybe she will get more and more attention the more books she releases. I just hope she just doesn't disappear off the planet, as I really want to read more of her books.
The End of Mr. Y is a really intriguing story. Ariel Manto is the main character and we get to know her in the first few chapters. We learn she is intellectual and has many different ideas. She goes from book to book, in which each one links with the other, whether by subject, author or title. She has been searching for the book "The End of Mr. Y" for ages but when she uncovers it in a second-hand book shop, she cannot believe her eyes. She quickly buys it and she cannot wait to get home and start reading it.
The End of Mr. Y is extremely rare, even Ariel knows this, and she's really interested in wondering why it is so rare. But when her professor goes missing, she's on the case of finding out why. She decides to follow Mr. Y's footsteps, and creates this potion, then drinks it, and then stares at a black dot. This black dot increases and she is transported into the Troposphere, a world which has its own rules that Ariel has to discover. But what does it do? And who are these nefarious men in grey suits, who are trying to find her and possibly kill her? And why do they want "The End of Mr. Y" so badly?
This is definitely a pure escapism book, it's there to entertain and throw up new ideas. I've always thought about a story in a story or a book in a book, and that is exactly what Scarlett Thomas has done, which is pretty amazing since you can make the characters do anything they want, and go straight out of their comfort zone, if you so wanted to. This book was definitely intriguing all the way through! However, there were a few bits that people may consider boring and unnecessary, whereas I thought of them as interesting and clever. Scarlett Thomas has used this book to show interesting points of view, that I'm forever arguing with my friends and family about. And there are some points that I have learnt and decided to use when arguing and it never fails. So thank you Scarlett Thomas. But I do understand how people may just want a simple, normal, enjoyable book to read rather than it being intellectual.
This book is pretty difficult to put under a normal genre. My first instinct is science-fiction novels (otherwise known as sci-fi) however there is many sub-genres this can fit under, such as erotic (as some parts are) there is some romance, there is some adventure, there's some sort of detectiveness about this book. It basically fits into every single genre I can think of, well apart from Children's fiction.
Personally I think the story stands out, there is no book I have ever come a crossed so far (and that is a lot of books) that is even similar to this book. Basically, this book is out of this world (ha I've thrown in a little joke there). And I don't think there is any other book that is similar to this at all.
This book has a lot of interesting and intriguing parts, although people may say some of the parts are really boring. And I totally understand why they would say that. The book gripped me in seconds and it was easy to get into, although some bit (which people like to refer to as the boring bits) may make the book difficult to get into. The ending was amazing, I didn't see it coming, and it left it at a CLIFF HANGER and it leaves you wanting to know more and exploring your own ideas and seeing if you can make up your own ending. It is a fun read, especially when Ariel is transported into the Troposphere, but some of this bits definitely makes you think and you tend to agree with what they are saying (well I tend to agree with what they are saying, I'm not sure about others thought). I do think the emotions occasionally run through it, especially the ending, and some bits in between, but sometimes they aren't displayed as well as they could be, and that could be an off-putter or makes you more intrigued, it just depends on what sort of reader you are. After finishing the book, I think it did make me reflect on what the book was about, I don't think there is a hidden message behind the book, but I think that it shows that some books can change your life upside down. It also made me think about the little scientific arguments in the book, and made me reflect on how real they seemed and it made them sound like Scarlett Thomas had had these arguments in the past, and that could be the reason why they are displayed so accurately and so detailed. It is definitely a book I would consider re-reading, but I am afraid to pass this on to friends and family, as they may not find it as enjoyable as I did, and they might not get the whole scientific side. So I may just pass it on and see what they think, or hide it somewhere and re-read it in a few years.
This book will definitely appeal to the sci-fi books, but as I always say, if you don't like that kind of genre, this still could be a book for you. I fully enjoyed it, and I hate star wars and star trek, so I'm not a really big fan of sci-fi, but I fully enjoyed this book. I suggest you give it a go!
I definitely think that this book should be strictly young adults-adults, purely because of some of the sex scenes that are in this book, and although they are not as disturbing as other books are, they are diminutive and a child shouldn't be allowed to read those types of books. Again I'm not going to put an age limit to this, as I think every person is different, and some people can read things at a certain age, whereas others can't. I personally think book should have an age rating like DVDs do) but then again it would be difficult to decide what the ratings should be, but then again, it would be up to the parent or guardian to decide if the child should read this, like they do with DVDs.
There is a few bits in this book that people may find dislike, as I have mentioned before, which are the intellectual debates that appear here and there, personally I found them enjoyable to read, and extremely interesting, although a few people I know really loathed those bits and thought that they really weren't needed in the book. I have to admit that they weren't necessary for the story line but it did throw up a few interesting points of view, and I was really intrigued when those parts appeared. If they weren't in the book I don't think my rating would be as high as it is, as I think they show the story in a different light, and it helps you to get to know the characters more.
I have rated this book 5 stars (but if Ciao and Dooyoo allowed half stars, it would be 4.5 stars) because it was interesting, intriguing and amazingly good and I couldn't stop reading this book, the half a star I knocked off because of the scientific bits because they re extremely controversial and people are not sure what to think of them.
Thank you very much for reading, and I hope you have enjoyed this review, and I hope I have intrigued a few people into putt this book on their wish list, or even going out to buy it (or using the internet). Thanks in advance for all your rates and comments!
**What is it about?**
Ariel Manto, the main character in this book, discovers a copy of the extremely rare book (called "The End of Mr Y") in a second hand bookstore. She can't believe her luck and begins to read, that is until she realises there is a page missing. She goes on a hunt for this missing page to find a secret recipe allowing her to enter a different realm and begin to time travel.
**Is it any good?**
I really liked this book. I thought that the storyline was completely original, I have certainly never read anything like this before and I really enjoyed it. I didn't want it to end, however when it did end I didn't enjoy it. In that I just didn't like the ending, I think Scarlett Thomas was trying to be clever and initially I thought "Ah I see what she's done there" but after thinking it over I'm not sure how I feel about it.
Apart from the slightly iffy ending (which I'll leave you pondering over) I did really enjoy it. You really get to know the main character and truely experience her life. Numerous times throughout the book it made me wish so much I was a time traveler and was almost tempted to try the mysterious recipe but alas I managed to keep myself in the real world!
**What about her other books?**
Scarlett Thomas had written a few other books; PopCo which is really good also, Bright Young Things which again is another good read and Going Out which I am yet to read.
She is a very talented author and managed to keep my attention throughout the book which I feel is the most important thing in a book.
I would definitely recommend this book. It is a bit different, a little bit fantasy but it also keeps itself grounded so as not to be completely unrealistic.
I picked up "The End of Mr Y" by Scarlett Thomas in the library as it looked interesting - the pages are black edged and the cover is red and almost occult in appearance. I really should learn my lesson about books and their covers....
"The End of Mr Y" is another novel about a cursed book. The main character is Ariel Manto, a PhD student who is researching thought experiments in the nineteenth century. Ariel was drawn into this area of study through her interest in an obscure Victorian scientist/novelist, Thomas Lumas. "The End of Mr Y" was the last book written by Lumas - it is very rare - and rumoured to be cursed. Ariel is shocked when she finds this extremely rare book in a second hand book shop and buys it (cheaply) on the spot.
Ariel's purchase of the book leads to things she never would have imagined and may also explain the mysterious disappearance of her PhD supervisor, Professor Burlem, whom she believed had also seen a copy of "The End of Mr Y".
I found this a strange book in many respects but especially in the ease of reading it at some points and the difficulty at others. Thomas writes from Ariel's point of view with ease and it is easy to slip into Ariel's world from the beginning of the book. However, although the main plot - the rare book and its mysterious curse - is interesting, the author likes to go off on tangents. The plot therefore seems a bit jerky as the main action stops and starts continually.
Thomas often has Ariel go off and do other things that appear to be random and don't really contribute to the plot. I think these small episodes - usually sexual- are an attempt to explain Ariel's behaviour and her low self-worth etc. I did find Ariel a strange main character though, as we don't really know much about her, other than what is revealed in her inner monologue. It is hinted that her second name is fictitious and that she "re-invented" herself. According to Wikipedia, Ariel Manto is an anagram of "I am not real".
The main problem for me was the sheer intellectual slant of the book. The author has Ariel debate about philosophy, physics, the Big Bang, theology and numerous other difficult subjects with other characters. I found a lot of it mind boggling as she goes into a lot of detail and it was hurting my brain a bit I'm ashamed to say! I was enjoying the escapism and surreal quality to the main plot only to be brought up short by the complexity of the debates and explanations Thomas has her character expound.
When these episodes appeared I just found myself wanting to get back to the main plot and the action rather than the complicated debates. I thought that these parts of the book detracted from the excitement and also stopped Thomas from exploring the other characters much.
I did enjoy the main plot and the inclusion of chapters from "The End of Mr Y" itself as Ariel was reading it was also a nice touch. Overall I did enjoy this book but felt that the intellectual conversations and debates - although interesting to some extent - were just too heavy and involved for the story as a whole.
I would recommend this book if you're prepared for the heavier intellectual elements - which I wasn't - and can cope with the main plot stopping and starting a lot. The main idea behind the book is very interesting in itself and I would have liked there to have been more focus on the main plot rather than the intellectual explanations.
This review is also posted on ciao.co.uk under my username.
This has to be one of the most frustrating novels I have ever read. I just wanted to scream 'Well, get on with the story, why don't you? Why are you telling me this?'
Ariel Manto is student who comes across a rare book that is supposed to have some kind of curse on it. The book has a page torn from it and she sets out to discover why it was removed, and what it was. It turns out to be a magic formula which she gathers the ingredients for and tries it out.
The story itself is quite thrilling and exciting as she goes on her adventures but I really thought that it was ruined by superfluous information. For instance the writer goes into great about a dinner time conversation with friends and scientific details are given in such depth that I did if the author was trying to show off her knowledge on the subject.
There are some sex scenes in the book that don't fit in with the story. For instance, Aeriel is at the university and on her way back stops off for a quickie with a college professor. There is no need to tell us that as it doesn't help the plot at all. It seemed to me to be shoved into the story. It's the old adage that a good story needs excitement and sex and I felt that the author just shoved that episode in to keep to the formula. Don't get me wrong, I'm no prude and I don't object to the subject matter. It just didn't fit right there.
This book by Scarlett Thomas has a startling red and black cover and the page edges are black too, which I must confess is what attracted me to it. Maybe I should have remebered the old adage: 'Never judge a book by its cover.'
It is a long tedious book with 506 pages and I found it quite tedious. To be honest, I stopped after chapter eleven because I was getting so frustrated at the slow pace of actual story. There are too many detours in this novel to keep me interested.
Victorian gothic and the modern world, worlds apart yet in this book, Scarlett Thomas has managed to put them together.
Ariel who is writing a phD on though experiments discovered a rare book in a second hand book shop by Lumas, an author who fell into obscurity, who is known for having radical ideas that goes against reality. Her discovery of the book and the secret inside placed her in danger and leads her to a world known as Troposphere.
To reveal more would spoil what the mysteries and the joy of discovering what the author has planted inside the book. It was an enjoyable book to read on a Sunday afternoon when the sky was dark outside and anything seemed possible. I could not put down the book once I started. However, some of the concepts discussed inside about the Big Bang and quantum physics are too complicated for me to understand. I find myself skimming those parts to get to the more exciting part.
It is hard to put this book into any genres. I supposed the best I can do is to call it a book that is multidisciplinary. I am sure that my knowledge of science has increased and Much research has probably been done by the author to ensure that she makes sense.
I have heard this book described as 'Fantasy novel for girls' which I frankly think is a load of rubbish, this is one of the best books I have ever read and I don't think it matters if you are male or female.
The book is the story of Ariel Manto who is an impoverished Phd student who to cut a long story short and not give away the plot finds a mysterious book rumoured to be cursed for all who read it. Obviously she buys the book and reads it and this takes her on a life changing journey through science, literature and philosophy. If you're interested in any of those topics )or like me all three) you will absolutely love this book.
It's difficult to compare this book to any others but my other favourite book of all time is 'The Shadow of the Wind' by Carlos Ruiz Zafon which is a similar story about a lost book albeit written in a completely different tone. If you enjoyed that book - I think you will like this one.
I couldn't put this down and as soon as I finished it immediately went on a hunt for other Scarlett Thomas books -which is proving a difficult task as many are not commercially published and not available in Waterstones, WHSmith etc. I'm still on the hunt.....
Ariel Manto is studying for her PhD, but her Professor, Saul Burlem has mysteriously disappeared. Her main interest is nineteenth century writer Thomas E. Lumas, who writes about thought experiments and fourth spatial dimensions. She is in the habit of looking for his books in second hand bookshops and would give anything to own a copy of his last work The End of Mr Y. To her astonishment she comes across one in a box of books in a second hand bookshop:
'Oh, s**t. This is a copy of The End of Mr Y...It's unbelievable, but there are other Lumas books there, and a couple of Derrida translations that I don't have as well as what looks like a first edition of Eureka, by Edgar Allan Poe.' (page 12).
Realizing the shop owner does not know its true worth, Ariel snaps it up at a bargain price. The mysterious thing about the book is that it is cursed. Everyone who has been involved with it dies, including the author, and the expert on the subject is the missing Saul Burlem. Ariel begins reading the book feeling that she is 'an experiment with no observer' (page 31) and embarks on a strange and transforming experience. She discovers the Troposphere, a place where you can travel in time and space using the thoughts of others.
The excerpt above tells a little about Ariel's character, the narrative style and gives some idea of the kind of themes it incorporates into the story. It discusses quantum physics, God, consciousness and fourth dimensions and borrows from French philosopher Jacques Derrida and German philosopher Martin Heidegger. There's also a hint of Matthew Gregory Lewis' The Monk. It also includes quotes from Jean Baudrillard, Martin Heidegger, Samuel Butler, Aristotle and Mary Shelley. If you're familiar with their ideas it helps, although some explanation is offered in the form of dialogue between characters.
There are numerous small stories within the main story, including stories of mind experiments and excerpts from Lumas' book. These are written in a totally different narrative voice: 'As Robert-Houdin has built automata with which to produce his illusions, I shall here propose to create an automaton of the mind, through which one may see illusions and realities beyond...' (page 33).
Ariel is a contemporary gothic heroine. She is an assertive, well rounded character, but with somewhat questionable morals when it comes to sex. However, although it's a very sexually explicit book, this all adds up to a necessary part of the story. It's part of Ariel's journey.
Scarlett Thomas is a talented writer who clearly knows her subjects and weaves them into the story in a way that's informative and richly entertaining. In some ways it feels like an experimental novel in which she has explored literary theory, philosophy and the use of different narrative styles, tugging the startled reader along with her.
Really this is a book about language, and if you're studying or about to study English Literature this is worth a look. If you've not studied literature, a lot of the philosophical concepts are explained enough to get you through the book and still enjoy the story. It's not an easy read by any means, but worthwhile if you want something complex to get your teeth into.
This review is also on Helium under my pen name A Marshall