J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst
Jan 10, 2014

"One book. Two readers. A world of mystery, menace, and desire."  is the brain child of Lost creator J. J. Abrams and put into form by Doug Dorst. It has mystery, romance, self-discovery, conspiracy, and the idea that nothing/no one is quite as they seem.

To start of with, this is a strange book. I first saw the book trailer for it, and knew that it was something I had to read. S is told in two parts (or maybe more depending on how you read it). First you have Ship of Theseus, a bizarre Lemony-Snicket-like story for adults. It is touted as the final work of one V.M. Straka, a enigmatic author who's real identity is as mysterious as his disappearance. It tells the story of "S," an amnesiac man shanghaied into an unbelievable tale of ghost ships, creepy sailors, assassins, revenge, and a crazed monkey. Believe it or not, this account is NOT the main story. It is actually a secondary tale meant to be the platform for the core narrative of Jen and Eric. Their story is told via the notes in the margin and the various inserts found within the book as they pass Ship of Theseus back and forth, trying to solve the mystery of V.M. Straka, which they believe is hidden in the book.  

There are many different ways to read this book, but here is my recommendation. I would place a sticky note in those places where there is an insert. This will help keep these items from falling out while reading (understand that these inserts are for the Jen and Eric storyline). Start the experience by reading Ship of Theseus by itself, ignoring the notes in the margins (easier said then done, I know). Once the book is finished, go back and read the commentary between Jen and Eric. Be aware that these notes are not chronological (evidenced by change in pen color and handwriting). It takes some getting used to, but it does become easier as time goes on to distinguish between them.

And if that were not enough, there are websites and podcasts that the reader can visit as well to add to the experience. (Try Googling "Eotvos Wheel" and see what you get.) J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst have done their best to provide a truly multimedia experience with this tale.

All that said, I really enjoyed both stories in S. It was fun to see Eric and Jen progress not only in their relationship to each other, but in their character development. The idea of a story told in margin notes and inserts appeals to me and Dorst has put a lot of development into a small medium. Also, as creepy as Ship of Theseus is, I enjoyed that tale as well. Be aware that this is not a story for everyone. The inserts can be challenging and possibly detract from the tale. For me, it is one of those reads that you will either love or hate. There is no middle ground here. 

Written by Jared H.

I spent two years living in Portugal.