47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I was sent an advanced copy of the book through their publicist because I write occasional short articles for [...] I agreed I'd review it, and promised them nothing (no rave reviews, no automatic endorsements) except an honest opinion & critique--since I posted it there, I thought I might as well post my early opinion here as well. :)
This is a 290 page softcover which promises "to explore the philosophies and themes of the hit show, as well as the countless mysteries that consume fans." Topics covered by chapter include:
Lost without Technology
Lost in Their Lives
Larger Spiritual Concepts
Cult(ivating) a Lost Audience
...and a long glossary/appendix section.
Overall, I found this to be a decently engaging book for those who are true fans of the show, and want to delve more deeply into underlying themes. It at times reads like an academic text, taking its subject matter seriously (and may be a little stylistically dry for some). They have obviously done a good amount of research. Drawbacks for more populist fans of the show are that it has no photographs or pictures, (in part because of copyrighting issues, I assume?). Readers seeking a more official companion book may want to check out LOST Chronicles (Mark Cota Vaz, 2005, Hyperion) instead, which also works better as an episode guide.
Particular strengths of this book are in the beginning chapter (about the creation of the series) and the ending chapters (about other literary/TV/movie references that preceded the series, and fan participation). They provide a lot of meaningful insight / background into what may be going on within the TPTB creative minds. The book is clearly written by fans of the show for fans of the show, and the passion for the subject matter comes through.
The middle chapters which look into arching themes are solid and well-referenced down to episode. The chapters on technological themes and interconnectiveness of lives aren't bad, but I do believe that within the spirituality chapters, there is a paucity of information on some recurrent symbology which is not explored well, including black & white/duality themes, Western governmental philosophies, and Eastern spirituality (there are a couple of sentences on dharma, but little else from that perspective, though the book does a good job with Christian, Muslim, and even Pagan themes). Another unfortunate thing about the book is that it suffers from its "mid-seasonality"-in order to release it in time for sweeps, it has to by necessity cut off the analysis to the episode The Long Con (2.13) and will not cover through all of Season 2.
I for one was attracted to the fact that the book restrains from too much random speculation/conjecture in the middle chapters, and backs up all connections with specific facts found within the episodes. Many of the ideas were obvious (some honestly a bit mundane), but there were a few that were original as well, making them enjoyable to read and think about (inspiring me with a few tangential thoughts of my own). The only time the book dips its toes deeply into the muddy theoretical realm is in the chapter on fan sites/forums. This did not bother me, because it stuck with just a handful of older semi-popular (and not yet discredited) fan theories-I had heard of some of them, but some were new. One of the theories mentioned, the "Copenhagen photo" has since been officially discredited as a hoax by the perpetrator, and probably should not have been included.
I liked the background info in the ending chapters, detailing some of the history of the show and the origins of its "fandom"; it was like having a backstage pass. There is very much an appreciation in the book of the unique interactivity of the show, and of how far the "phenomenon" of LOST has come with its internet fan base (a community which the authors themselves appear proud members of). It's hard to come up with a comprehensive list of show "ancestors" without going overboard (since there are just SO many possible influences), but the authors did a good job with their limited list (roughly 20), especially with analysis of connections to Lord of the Flies, The Stand, and The Twilight Zone series.
The Glossary, the Character Sketches, Character Connections and Appendix sections take up a good third of the book, but they are well worth it and I think will make a good, organized source of reference for those interested in future detailed discussions of the show.
In summary, this book is worth a read for those seeking intelligent, grounded commentary on general themes that permeate the LOST series, Season 1 - half of Season 2; just remember that this is not an official or "insider" book.