I'm trying to read books in order that I get them, but also to keep myself from reading all books in a series at once and getting tired of them (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, A Song of Fire and Ice, Mortal Instruments), I'm switching in between stand alones and books in other series. This is The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas and the synopsis is from Goodreads:
A cursed book. A missing professor. Some nefarious men in gray suits. And a dreamworld called the Troposphere?
Ariel Manto has a fascination with nineteenth-century scientists; especially Thomas Lumas and The End of Mr. Y, a book no one alive has read. When she mysteriously uncovers a copy at a used bookstore, Ariel is launched into an adventure of science and faith, consciousness and death, space and time, and everything in between.
Seeking answers, Ariel follows in Mr. Y's footsteps. She swallows a tincture, stares into a black dot, and is transported into the Troposphere; a wonderland where she can travel through time and space using the thoughts of others. There she begins to understand all the mysteries surrounding the book, herself, and the universe. Or is it all just a hallucination?
I heard about this book from the booktuber Astridthebooktuber.
(safe for those who haven't read the book yet)I found the premise of this book very intriguing. A book that is known for having a reputation as being "cursed," since everyone who read the book died. So when our protagonist Ariel stumbles upon possibly the only surviving copy arbitrarily, she gives away most of the rest of her month's spending money on it. From then on, the adventure begins. Once she starts reading, so do we. And we as the reader aren't getting third part accounts of what happens, the author places parts of the story alongside the story we're already reading and it beautifully shows the versatility of voices Thomas can write.
I was a little surprised to find this book very prominent in philosophical discussions and stream of consciousness monologues. And for some odd reason, it didn't bore me. It was perhaps that I was excited to be reading it that I found it more interesting than normal. Regardless, this book was really easy to read (for a philosophically dominant story).
I wrote those two paragraphs before finishing it because I was bored and wanted to say something about the book that I liked. Which wasn't even a lot. However, for the majority of this book I was in extreme discomfort. I was left with the impression that the author wanted to debate about this existential/scientific hypotheses/philosophical theories and dogmas (not prominently but slightly) but was never able to so decided to incorporate a story around it so that she could sell it. At first I was impressed by Ariel's character and all she knew, but then I come to think maybe this was just the author showing off. I know this is fiction and I've never read any other books by Thomas so I may be just saying this too harshly, but I couldn't find myself enjoying it after a point. My favorite parts were the chapters or scenes that revolved around Mr. Y or around Ariel's life because simply: I understood what was going on.
This book became way too philosophical for me and I was prepared for more mystery or fantasy. Also I thought the writing was going to blow me away but there were countless times I breezed through the pages because I had no idea what was going on, the writing was clearly stream of consciousness and I don't enjoy those types of stories. It reminded me a little of The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundra, however I followed this story more.
I didn't connect with any of the characters, real or otherwise, and it's difficult to articulate my feelings for this book at all. I equally enjoyed and hated this book. And unless you're into reading books that predominately focus on different philosophies or scientific theories, I wouldn't read this book. But for most readers who enjoy a straightforward adventure/mystery/romance/etc story, this book is not for you. I don't think I'd read it again, but if I did it would only be to understand what the hell Ariel was talking about most of the time.
It's sad that this book which is 399 pages took me the same amount of time to finish that it took me to finish Game of Thrones which is 807 pages... I'm clearly more of a fantasy reader than philosophy and science. Ha ha...
I think I just need someone to explain this book to me because I'm pretty sure if I tried rereading it I would come out with the same questions.
I give this book 3/5 stars. I want to give it 2 stars since I didn't enjoy it for the most part, but I really thought the world Thomas made was very clever and I couldn't give it less stars for it. However it didn't mean I liked this book overall.
“Real life is physical. Give me books instead. Give me the invisibility of the contents of books, the thoughts, the ideas, the images. Let me become part of a book. . . . an intertextual being: a book cyborg, or, considering that books aren't cybernetic, perhaps a bibliorg.”
-Scarlett Thomas, The End of Mr. Y
Next To Read:
The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
River Song's Spoilers:
(unsafe for those who haven't read this book yet, so don't read this section)The Troposphere in general I thought was probably the most mind-blowing idea I've ever read in a book, or one that I've attempted to understand. I really enjoyed the concept and how Thomas was able to create that world outside of our world but still in it. I can't even explain it. Thought can't equal matter but matter equals thought. Then thought equals time? Or something like that. Too confusing.
I really wanted to dislike Ariel since she seemed to do everything wrong, but like this book I'm just indifferent with her. I couldn't clear up an age with her. At first I thought mid to late twenties, but then she said Adam was too young-- so then it made me guess she was older thirties. But then she called Patrick and Burlem old for being in their fifties. Thomas needed to clear that up...
Also when she wrote her characters speaking, there'd be back and forth dialogue and I'd get confused who was speaking so I'd have to back track a while until I found a "Ariel says" or "he says."
There were a lot of jumps for me that I didn't understand at all and was left completely in the dark. Was Mr. Y really just Thomas Lumas and he just made up Mr. Y as a pseudonym? Also near the end, I thought Ariel was in a coma-- all of a sudden she left the motel/bar where she was in a coma then she magically ends up at Burlem's door. And I was confused on how the Project Starlight got the formula in the first place to go into the Troposphere, as well with the KIDS. And why did Apollo Smintheus want to free the mice? AND how was Ariel able to just descend into the Troposphere without taking the formula. I have many more things I could ask I did not understand but those were the big ones that I could think of.
Until Next Time,