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The End of Mr. Y - Scarlett Thomas
Member Name: woozle
The End of Mr. Y - Scarlett Thomas
Date: 09/11/11, updated on 18/07/12 (71 review reads)
Advantages: One to stimulate deep thought
Disadvantages: Can tie you in mental knots
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.
Summary: If you like to ponder upon the complexities of the human mind and the universe, go for it.