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S.

4.2 32
by J. J. Abrams, Doug Dorst
     
 

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The chronicle of two readers finding each other, and their deadly struggle with forces beyond their understanding—all within the margins of a book conceived by Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams and written by award-winning novelist Doug Dorst.

The book: Ship of Theseus, the final novel by a prolific but enigmatic writer

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Overview

The chronicle of two readers finding each other, and their deadly struggle with forces beyond their understanding—all within the margins of a book conceived by Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams and written by award-winning novelist Doug Dorst.

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 rumors 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.

S. contains 22 inserts and will be delivered in a sealed slipcase.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 11/04/2013
Fans of Abrams’s TV series Lost will delight in this multilayered and complex novel, coauthored with Dorst (Alive in Necropolis), which comes in a highly unusual package. A sealed slipcase holds a “library copy” of V.M. Straka’s 1949 book, Ship of Theseus, a title that calls to mind Plutarch’s famous paradox, which asks whether a ship that has had all its parts replaced is really the same ship. Virtually every artificially browned page in the book contains the marginal notes of students Jen and Eric, who share details of their lives and remark on the text (the notes are in different colors, allowing readers to distinguish between the authors). Their annotations and questions punctuate Straka’s story of a man known only as S., who’s been shanghaied and has lost his memory; footnotes lead the reader down more and more rabbit holes, as do multiple loose inserts such as photos, memos, postcards, and letters. For those in our online age able to accept the notion of a chat carried out by handwritten exchanges in a printed book, the Talmudic commentary will fascinate, even as clues are dropped early on that the resolution may be ambiguous. This is a must-read for literary puzzle fans, even for those unfamiliar with Abrams’s TV and film work. Agent: Jay Mandel, William Morris Endeavor. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
"The best-looking book I've ever seen. . . . The book is so perfectly realized that it's easy to fall under its spell. . . . If you want to write a romantic mystery meta-novel in which two bibliophiles investigate the conspiracy around an enigmatic Eastern European author, you couldn't choose a better team." —Joshua Rothan, New Yorker"

Impressively smart, engaging . . . Filled with secrets and stories that are endlessly beguiling and inviting . . . Reading S., and trying to decode everything [was] an incredibly enjoyable, fun experience, as well as a particularly immersive one. . . . For all its mysteries and intrigues, this is a book about the value of books, and what they can offer us that other storytelling mediums cannot." —Wired"

S. is gorgeous, a masterpiece of verisimilitude. . . . The book's spiritual cousin is A.S. Byatt's Possession. . . . The brilliance of S. is less in its showy exterior than the intimate and ingeniously visual way it shows how others' words become pathways to our lives and relationships." —Washington Post"

Both as literature and as a physical object, S. is a profound and tremendous work of art. . . . Brilliantly conceived and perfectly executed, the book harkens back to a golden age of storytelling. . . . An audacious literary achievement that calls to mind Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire, Chris Ware's Building Stories and even Charles Portis' Masters of Atlantis." —Miami Herald"

Reading S. is fun, and the book feels alive . . . Gloriously embroidered with marginalia and jammed with artifacts inserted between its pages . . . A celebration of the book as a physical thing." —Chicago Tribune"

Both as literature and as a physical object, S. is a profound and tremendous work of art."—The Miami Herald

The Miami Herald
"Both as literature and as a physical object, S. is a profound and tremendous work of art."
Library Journal
Abrams, who has created, produced, written, and directed multiple Emmy Award- and Golden Globe Award-winning television series and films, joins forces with PEN/Hemingway Award- and Shirley Jackson Award-nominated novelist Dorst for a Rubik's cube tale of love and adventure.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-12-19
A delightful, endlessly unfolding fiction that is meta beyond meta, a sort of Da Vinci Code for smart people. When lead author Abrams isn't busy rebooting the Star Trek film series, he's cooking up puzzles, mysteries and legerdemain. With lieutenant Dorst (Alive in Necropolis, 2008, etc.), he's conjured up a fine frame on which to hang the enterprise: a sort of gothic romance--though of the Horace Walpole rather than Barbara Cartland sort--called Ship of Theseus (a title that, as game theory enthusiasts will know, itself conjures up a thorny philosophical puzzle). Written by a Poe-esque poet named V. M. Straka, the invented piece is a study in gloominess: "The stolen look becomes a prolonged study, not of the devastation but of the figure he notices skulking at the foot of the port's only lighthouse, hidden from the shooters and watching S. recede into the dark, perhaps even waving once before S. disappears from view." Weaving its way through this book is a second story, marginal notes exchanged by a young man and young woman who sometimes flirt and sometimes fret, puzzling over Straka's yarn while gabbing their way toward resolution over their own lives ("I seriously doubt your dad is some evil Bouchard person." "I know. But it makes the marketing job even more repulsive. Don't want to be any part of that world." "Hard to avoid. Maybe impossible.") The twin narratives, spinning in and out of each other like loopy helixes, are absorbing enough, but the most impressive thing about this shaggy-dog story is its physical form: a book that looks every bit like the 1949-issue stolen library book that it is supposed to be, hatched with doodles and annotations and underlinings, its pages full of laid-in treasures: postcards, letters, notes, photographs and, yes, a decoder wheel. The book is a simulacrum as wondrous as the one the protagonist of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore invents--and if this book has a spiritual twin, it's Robin Sloan's lively 2012 tale. Beguiling. For fans of mysteries, postmodern fiction and fine bookmaking: a book that makes demands of its reader, but that amply entertains in return.

Ranking as the most exciting collaboration in recent memory is this new novel by film and television director J.J. Abrams (Lost; Alias; Star Trek; Mission: Impossible) and novelist Doug Dorst (Alive in Necropolis; The Surf Guru). At its heart is a wonderful density: A narrative of romantic encounter and adventure accompanied by marginalia from two readers that echoes online and in the real world. S. inhabits a universe that entangles us in its secrets and provocations.

The New York Times
"[The] presiding pop-culture guru-geek ... a generous showman."

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316201643
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
10/29/2013
Pages:
472
Sales rank:
23,519
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.70(h) x 1.60(d)

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Meet the Author

Emmy-Award-winning filmmaker J.J. Abrams has produced, directed, or written films and television shows including Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Fringe, Lost, Alias, Felicity, Star Trek, Cloverfield, Mission: Impossible, and more.

Doug Dorst teaches writing at Texas State University. He is the author of the PEN/Hemingway-nominated novel Alive in Necropolis and the collection The Surf Guru. His work has appeared in McSweeney's, Ploughshares, Epoch and elsewhere. Dorst is also a three-time Jeopardy! champion.

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S. 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel is an absolutely mesmerizing love letter to the written word, and the power it can have over its reader. A story in which art imitates life (and vice versa), &quot;S&quot; has an incredibly clever design which allows you to follow multiple stories at once via the voices of the two margin notes writers, Jen and Eric, as well as the &quot;Ship of Theseus&quot; author, V.M. Straka. Once you enter this novel's world, you'll never want to leave it! Highly, highly recommend this for everyone to check out!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
great book DO NOT TRY TO TAKE THE TAG ON THE FRONT/BACK OFF. it was meant to stay on there, despite looking like it was removable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The first time I heard about this book I REALLY wanted to read it. The concept was just so different from any other book I had read, and all the artifacts contained within intrigued me. I immediately purchased the book and began reading it. At first, I wanted to read one chapter at a time and then go back and read the notes in the margin, but they were too distracting, so I changed to reading a "section" at time. This worked, but it took some getting used to. It was difficult keeping the "Ship of Theseus" storyline straight while keeping the marginal conversation in mind too. The book's storyline became easier to follow, but throughout the entire book the marginal notes were still a bit hard to follow. There were a lot of names being thrown around, plus all the "codes" contained within the footnotes. In the end, I definitely enjoyed reading the book. I'm not sure how I feel about the ending, but I did enjoy the book as a whole. If you like puzzling, challenging books that require you to constantly use your brain, then this book is for you. *** I decided to change my rating to 5 stars. The reason is I found that the eotvos wheel at the back of the book DOES serve a purpose, which leads me to believe that there is more to the story then it initially seems. Classic Abrams. I can't wait to try to crack the code and see what else the book contains!***
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Most fun I've had in a long time reading a book, and I'm only on page 50.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book thus far, I am really satisfied with the story and everything that is happening. It is a very thorough and well thought out concept that has turned out to be a very great read, I cannot wait to see what is going to happen and figure out the mystery behind the author V.M. Straka! I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of reading and new concepts that are offered!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing. It's a fictional myster which is real yet fantasy all at the same time. It's easy to fall into the pages, and extremly difficult to climb back out.
STONEHUNTER More than 1 year ago
When a friend about this book and showed it to me, I immeadetly ordered it when I got home .And I don't regret it one bit. Abrams (and Dorst ) have crafted a multi-layered story. Revolving around the last book of a "fictional" Author;two collage students Delve into The mystery of The Idenity(ies) of same . they find romance along the way. throw in Some inserts (which help (Sometimes) with the mystery Itself), and you have a fantastic pkg. My only gripe is the way the inserts are put in the book (loosely) which makes reading difficult sometimes. Well worth the bucks .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved it! It was very well done. I read the text and then went back and read all of the comments, which I recommend if you don't have time to go through and read it according to all the different colors of written comments. I loved how the comments, even the ones written &quot;later&quot;, don't give away anything until the very end. I recommend it to any upper high school student or adult who's willing to take some time and digest this book. There is a quote in Inkheart by Cornelia Funke: &ldquo;Some books should be tasted,/ some devoured,/ but only a few/ should be chewed and digested/ thoroughly.&rdquo; S. Is certainly a book to be chewed and digested. So don't start it until you know you'll be committed to finishing. I guarantee you: it's worth the time. 
TacoGod More than 1 year ago
It's always fun to find writing or momentos left behind in a book, and this book comes with those standard. Apart from the novelty of the inserts, the actual main text part of the book is interesting, suspenseful, and sometimes surprising. The side text can sometimes be challenging to follow but, for an analytical mind, it can be very enriching to the story line. A good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely beautiful book that deserves a place on everyone's shelves. The idea behind the book is nothing less than fascinating. It takes some time to get in the flow of reading the actual text and the marginalia, but after a while you get used to it. I told many friends about this amazing book. Well-worth the read. It gets 4 stars because the ending felt a bit rushed to me, but it in no way ruined my experience.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantastic, suspenseful read. Also read Hector's Juice.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so good. Its like 2 stories in one book. definitely check it out. if you like j.j. abrams movies than you will definitely love his book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This turned out to be a very interesting and entertaining book, exhibiting creativity at its best with a peculiar concept. The engaging nature of the storytelling reminded me of Janvier Chando's The Usurper and Other Stories. Complex though S is, it is a fun read and brings story telling to a whole new level.
huskyterp More than 1 year ago
If the text is what we usually think of as the novel (e.g., the words that make up each chapter), then the paratext are the words about the text or novel (e.g., book reviews, essays about the book, or--in this case--the notes written in the margins). What makes S. unique is that both the text and the paratext are one. There are several separate, yet overlapping stories in the novel, and it's really up to you to decide which story is the most important as you read the book...however many times you might end up doing so. Obviously, I haven't read everything, but I'm pretty sure this approach to a novel is original. The characters who write to each other in the margins--like a literary "Catfish"--are well-developed despite the limited space on the page we're allowed to see them actually develop; the additional "paratexts" stuffed into different parts of the book communicate what the characters can't elaborate in the margins. What I originally thought would be my criticism of the book has actually changed while writing this review; if I were to say what the "problem" was, it would be evidence of my missing the book's point.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am only on page 44 of this book, but it is absolutely amazing. I very easily got lost in the page this morning, and before I knew it, an hour and a half had passed by!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I admire and appreciate the creativity in compiling/writing this book, but found it frustrating to follow all the margin notes and have not the slightest idea who the numerous people alluded to were, nor their positions vis-a-vis the mysterious V.M. Straka. I think having some sort of a "cheat sheet" listing those who were rumored to be connected to "S" and in what capacity might have enhanced my appreciation of the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel is an absolutely amazing love story or should i say three love stories mixed with fantasy and mystery. Once you enter this novel's world, you'll never want to leave it! Highly, highly recommend this for everyone to check out! It is slow reading because there are so many things going on but it is a worthy adventure. It drew me in at the very beginning and I lost track of time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book starts out strong but is incredibly anticlimactic.  The writing in the margins only weakens the book.  It was a good idea, just not well executed.
jkay More than 1 year ago
It is slow reading because there are so many things going on but it is a worthy adventure. It drew me in at the very beginning and I lost track of time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago