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S. Hardcover – 29 Oct 2013

100 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 472 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main edition (29 Oct. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857864777
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857864772
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 4.1 x 24.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

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Product Description


"Filled with secrets and stories that are endlessly beguiling and inviting" (Wired)

"S. is at the heart of Abrams' aesthetic vision . . . Not only do we get a novel, Ship of Theseus, purportedly by a "VM Straka" - about a man shanghaied onto a mysterious boat with a demonic crew - the copy in the reader's hand is heavily annotated by two other readers, Jennifer and Eric, who are attempting to make sense of the text and themselves, as well as the enigmatic figure of Straka himself. Interleaved into it are countless pieces of ephemera: postcards, telegrams, a map scribbled on a napkin from the Pronghorn Java coffee shop . . . S., in its elegant slipcase, is the mystery box that can be opened without dispelling its mystery. It is as much of a love letter to the form as Super 8 was a homage to the films of Spielberg" (Stuart Kelly Guardian)

"It genuinely feels as if you, as the reader, have stumbled on a literary relic, the sole copy of a twisted conspiracy . . . that sense of wonder that has driven Abrams' entire career is found on every page of S." (Scotland on Sunday)

"A book you long to share with others" (Metro)

"S. is not a normal book" (New York Times)

"Genuinely awe-inspiring" (Independent)

"What we have is a new kind of book which is, in essence, a very old kind of book. As they say in Abrams' Hollywood, it's so crazy it just might work" (Financial Times)

"Astonishing" (Mark Lawson, BBC Front Row)

"Multilayered wonder" (Evening Standard)

About the Author

Emmy Award-winning filmmaker J.J. Abrams has produced, directed, or written films and television shows including Fringe, Lost, Alias, Felicity, Star Trek, Cloverfield, Super 8, Mission: Impossible, and more.

Doug Dorst teaches writing at Texas State University-San Marcos. He is 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.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. L. V. Love on 12 Nov. 2013
Format: Hardcover
How do I even begin to review this book? It's not so much a book, as an experience, I think.

Firstly, just as a physical object, it is A Beautiful Thing. Every book lover should own a physical copy of this book, and although an e-book format (for tablets) exists, it would lose something important to it in that form. Part of the joy of this book is that you have a physical copy of the book-within-the-book, Ship of Theseus, complete with library date stamps with the look and feel of an old and well loved book - it even smells like it! Within you have the hand-written annotations and notes of two people studying the book, trying to divine its secrets and identify its author and his story. There are also numerous inserts, items the readers have exchanged with each other... letters, postcards, a hand drawn map on a napkin, a newspaper clipping, photographs and more. Of course, all of these things are mass produced items, but the quality of them is such that sometimes you forget that. It feels very much like you are handling the very book and ephemera that Jen and Eric (our two readers) did.

The story, unsurprisingly given the above, is multi-layered. As you read through S several stories reveal themselves. The most blatant of these is Ship of Theseus itself complete with footnotes, which is itself also revealing of a story connecting to the author. There is also the story of Jen and Eric. And these stories are interconnected, with many parallels. That in itself is another story.

And there are the puzzles. Some are obvious. Some the book answers for us. But others will take rereading and checking out other sources (there are various related websites) to even reveal the puzzle, let alone solve it.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Johnny Nys on 4 Dec. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's fun, but it was pretty confusing at first because I was reading everything as I came upon it on the books. That's when I decided first to read read through the original, fictional "novel" first, "Ship of Theseus" by V.M. Straka, and then went back to read Jen and Eric's notes to each other. Apparently there's a color-coded chronology to the notes as well, but luckily another Goodreads reader figured it out so I could use that as a safety line (but even then inside the same color code, it was obvious that some notes near the end of the book were still written BEFORE notes in the front, so I didn't get the TRUE chronology. Reading the notes took me almost as long as the story, but they were very addictive and I just couldn't put the book down. I wanted to know what happened to them, because these people came over as completely real. I loved the inserts as well, and particularly the long letters to each other. I did feel some anguish when I realized they were talking to each other through other means - I no longer had access to their entire conversations!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By R. Sinclair on 23 Nov. 2013
Format: Hardcover
A brilliant book - Who now remembers Dennis Wheatley's Murder Off Miami presented as the crime dossier.
With regards to the band that seals the book in its slipcase -a few blasts wiith a hairdryer will allow you to peel it off unbroken.
Similarly keep a log of which pages the inserts are placed in and remove them arefully.
Then enjoy !
It reminds me of Myst - that also had stories within stories and is probably the most interesting and inventive book I have seen since Calvino's "If On A Winters Night".
If you love books, this is a must.
I can see a whole world devoted to finding complete copies in the future and websites devoted to swapping the inserts - or copies of them.
At least two of the postcards are derived from original engravings - and I don't yet know if that is significant or not !
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cat on 11 Mar. 2014
Format: Hardcover
This was a present to me and at first I was apprehensive but after reading the reviews, intrigued. When it arrived and I saw the actual product I just thought wow, opening the box and holding the book that looks so authentically like id pulled it from an old library the detail is exquisite. I flicked through and saw the 'handwritten' notes on the pages and knew instantly it would be amazing. I read the first page and automatically bought more copies to send to loved ones.

As you read through it immerses you into the world of Jen and Eric and makes you feel like you have stumbled across long forgotten secrets and forget this is actually a new book.

I read reviews regarding how to read this and most people seem to say read the book ship of thesus and then go back and read the notes and inserts but I personally read the page then read the notes and inserts as I go along.

The way it's written is so addictive you won't want to put it down, because the characters are so believable and the story line is so addictive you just want to find out all the secrets and puzzles and find out what happened and the story of all the characters.

It truly is a unique book, and the style is amazing. Don't be put off by it being a bit different, i just urge you to buy the hardback (e-book will not have the same effect) even down the last detail such as the smell of the book! Just buy it and know that you will be in for a treat. It has to be seen to be believed. You won't regret it. My only advice is make sure you have a good amount of time off work to sit down and truly appreciate the beauty and the wonder of S.
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