Book Review #28: S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

Posted on June 30, 2014 «
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Jade Eby introduced me to S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst. I didn’t need much persuading to buy the book once she stopped by my desk with her copy and started pulling pieces out of the book and showing me the intricate margin notes. The only thing holding me back from buying the book was that it was on backorder and didn’t arrive on my doorstep until February 15. I placed my order on December 28.

S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst is a complicated book and I’ve decided to take it slow and try to digest it a bit. If you aren’t familiar with how this book works, I invite you to check out the links on Jade’s blog, Chasing Empty Pavements. S. is a romance story told in the margins of the novel The Ship of Theseus by V.M Straka. I have gotten through The Ship of Theseus and now need to go back through the book and read the two or three sets of margin notes.

As a stand alone novel, The Ship of Theseus by V.M Straka is quite mysterious. The main character journeys throughout the novel on a ship bound to ports unknown searching for his identity and a woman he may (or may not) love.

As I got further and further into the novel, I couldn’t help but be reminded by Lost, one of my favorite shows. There are lots of layers (like an onion and ogres) that if you wanted to peel them back one-by-one, I’m sure there is some existential meaning behind the man’s journey, his memory loss, the crazy boat and the leader, Vevoda. The Ship of Theseus looks like, feels like and smells like (I’m not kidding) a dusty old novel I would have been required to read in one of my literature classes in college. I feel I would have enjoyed it more if I could have read a chapter and discussed it in detail with a group of people. Since this is a J.J. Abrams creation, I knew it was completely possible by the time I got through my first read through of S. /The Ship of Theseus none of my questions about the man and his memory loss would be answered. I tried to see the deeper message and let the book speak to me. It really didn’t.

I am hoping that as I go through S. for the second time and read the margin notes, the real magic of S. will come alive. I did try to read the margin notes as I read The Ship of Theseus, but I felt like I was trodding through mud and getting lost in details that didn’t make sense because I hadn’t read enough of The Ship of Theseus yet for them to make sense. Trying to read the margin notes while reading the main novel made progress really slow and confusing to I switch my focus back to JUST The Ship of Theseus and the margin notes in pencil.

I am looking forward to reading through S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst again. I just need a bit of a brain break and will get back to it soon.


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