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S.


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55 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy to read
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...
Published 18 months ago by Mrs. L. V. Love

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A thing of Beauty
If you are going to buy this I strongly recommend buying the physical version. It truly is a wondrous thing. In your hands you are holding a facsimile of an old used library book complete with notes and correspondence in its margins. Attention to detail here is phenomenal and this along with the inserts of photos maps postcards and letters is almost worth the price of the...
Published 16 months ago by podz


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55 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy to read, 12 Nov. 2013
By 
Mrs. L. V. Love (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: S. (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. Technically, I may have finished the book, but I have by no means finished with it - there is a lot here to examine and reexamine and reread, and I still have questions which I will no doubt enjoy trying to answer, even if I ultimately can't.

This may just possibly be my favourite book ever.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great experience, 4 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: S. (Hardcover)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 23 Nov. 2013
By 
R. Sinclair "RoyS." (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: S. (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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have for book and Abrams fans., 16 Nov. 2013
This review is from: S. (Hardcover)
A complete treasure to look at, a real book lovers dream.

Can't find fault.

Anyone moaning about the side sticker didn't look before attacking it as it is perforated
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute MUST buy!, 11 Mar. 2014
This review is from: S. (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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visual Feast, 23 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: S. (Hardcover)
I love this book. I only discovered it through trawling Amazon for inspiration for Christmas and I'm so glad I found it.

I'm not a JJ Abrams fan - I don't think I've seen anything that he's made (or if I have I'm not aware he made it) so I didn't have any expectations going in. I did read a lot of reviews beforehand and it became clear to me that there is a massive debate on how to read it.

Personally, I read the story 'Ship of Theseus' first and then went back and read the notes between Jen and Eric and all the inserts, refreshing my memory of the story and footnotes as I went. This was the best way for me - I wanted to know more about the background of the story, which actually helped with some of the notes at the front of the book.

Let me point out that there is NOT a wrong way to read this book. You may read reviews of people saying 'if you read it this way you don't get the experience' - absolute rubbish. Everyone's experience is going to be different, so just read it the way you feel comfortable. Some prefer to read the notes at the same time, some do a chapter and then read the corresponding notes.

I love the inserts and the feeling you're discovering something private and personal tucked into the pages. (Probably best to make of note of the pages the inserts are in, as they have a habit of falling out!)

Definitely worth getting the hardback - it has that old library book feel and I think that would be lost in a Kindle version.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars S. - Review by BookLore.co.uk, 12 April 2015
By 
Phaid (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: S. (Hardcover)
When you pick up S. the first problem you have is how to read the thing! I believe the title page gives you the clue. Having read the initial correspondence between Jen and the stranger, I followed her route of discovery and read the V. M. Straka Ship of Theseus novel first ignoring all the notations. Early in their conversation, before any of their notes back and forth, Jen finishes the novel in one sitting "Thanks! Read the rest in one sitting - wow." The stranger then teases Jen implying she has not seen the real message in the book whereby Jen goes back doing more of an analysis and leaves the first run of commentary starting their dialogue. The only notes in the book when Jen reads it first are the translator’s footnotes and the stranger’s pencil notes.

Firstly, the novel. Ship of Theseus. The story is a strange one and I’m not even sure what genre you would put it in... fiction certainly but adventure/horror/mystery/fantasy/supernatural... it has all these elements but none are defining.

We first meet S., the title character, in a city by the sea. He is very wet, has no memory of how he got there or who he is. He wanders aimlessly for a time in a surreal atmosphere before entering a tavern. Here he meets a woman reading a book; she seems familiar but professes she does not know S. It is a trap and S. is shanghaied, next waking on a ship at sea. The ship, the woman and the book reoccur throughout the novel as S. tries to escape but always returns. Sounds strange as I say but to go any deeper here would spoil the experience of reading.

While I enjoyed the novel I struggled to devise the meaning, if any, behind the story. It seemed to me to be about many things not least unrequited love and loss as well as the greed of humanity and its propensity for evil to obtain what it desires. If the story was a metaphor for something deeper I’m afraid I missed it although the books and the Island struck a chord. Life perhaps? It was certainly intriguing with a seemingly unending war between good and evil where a balance is maintained by bloody action on both sides, with S. becoming a major player towards the end... certainly worth reading.

Secondly, we have the book’s footnotes and the margin notes which are an entire story in their own right. As the original manuscript for Ship of Theseus was not in English the book has been translated by one F. X Caldeira. Many readers (in the fictional world of the book) believe the translator’s forward and footnotes are actually messages in code to the author Straka. The first margin notes in the book are Eric’s pencil ones which are then followed by a dialogue between Jen and Eric as they try to identify Straka and unravel Caldeira’s messages. As they delve deeper a sense of threat develops as unseen enemies try to prevent Jen and Eric revealing the truth. Is it paranoia? Is the threat real? Are they about to reveal a clandestine organisation that kills without compunction? Is it simply academic rivalry? The paranoia, real or imagined, drips from the page as you read, becoming more and more involved in Jen and Eric’s quest to learn the truth. Again I’ll say no more as to do so would spoil the fun.

The margin notes are handwritten in two distinct styles; Jen’s are lowercase cursive script while Eric’s are all in uppercase block letters. Several colours are used to indicate the different iterations as the book passes back and forth between Jen and Eric.

I don’t believe you need to try and read them in the order they were written, i.e. follow a colour, as some have suggested. Not only would this be an almost impossible task it seemed to me each full set of notes on a particular page moved the narrative of Jen and Eric along correctly in time. In truth it would probably spoil it trying to read a single set of colours first as near the end you would undoubtedly read a future note too early. Then again, I could have it completely wrong, that is the beauty of the whole book.

And finally, the book’s production. It is simply astounding. Place this in the hands of any book lover and their heart will melt. It arrives sealed in a functional slipcase to ensure the contents remain intact. You open the cellophane and are presented with a perforated seal embossed with an S.. You break this with a letter opener and slide out Ship of Theseus which is a faithful reproduction of an old 1949 library book (the only giveaway is the smallest copyright panel below the library in/out stamps at the back of the book, and even this is disguised to look like the Library’s lending rules). In the book are numerous pieces of ephemera, old letters, postcards, articles, etc., that all expand the story and relate to Jen and Eric’s notes as they try to solve the mystery of Straka and learn more about one another.

S. is a rare thing; individually each element is very good in its own right, however, the sum of the parts is breathtaking and every book lover should own a copy, read it and enjoy the experience.

• The story
• The foot notes
• The margin notes
• The ephemera
• The codes
• The quality of product

If you had the time you could spend hours of enjoyment unravelling more and more... and at the end there is one mystery left unanswered... how did we, the reader, get the book?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A thing of Beauty, 17 Jan. 2014
This review is from: S. (Hardcover)
If you are going to buy this I strongly recommend buying the physical version. It truly is a wondrous thing. In your hands you are holding a facsimile of an old used library book complete with notes and correspondence in its margins. Attention to detail here is phenomenal and this along with the inserts of photos maps postcards and letters is almost worth the price of the book on its own.
The library book is a copy of "Ship of Theseus" by the influential mysterious and enigmatic V M Straka, and the margins are filled with the correspondence between two ardent Straka groupies obsessed with decoding its text and thus revealing the mystery of the identity of the author, to add to this already heady mix is a fourth voice in the form of the books translator who, perhaps, is more integral to the Story than one would expect.
It is this complex dynamic that makes S. a difficult and demanding read. As the reader you will have to make the decision of HOW to read: Main text first then re-read with margin notes, or Main text and notes at same time, or maybe read chapter by chapter.
The main charm of S. is the burgeoning relationship between the two margin writers over a prolonged period, but where it falls down catastrophically is the drabness and poor prose of "Ship of Theseus" itself. If it hadn't been for the mystery and intrigue revealed by the margins and the footnotes, I would have given up a fraction of the way through the 450 pages.
S. is all artifice: "Ship of Theseus", V.M. Straka , and who knows, maybe even JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original, exciting and fascinating piece of literature, full of twists, 9 Nov. 2013
This review is from: S. (Hardcover)
‘S.’ by J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst is excellent work both to its look and thrilling content, one of the most innovative in recent times.

The novel is based on interesting concept what could happen when a novel which has an unusual notes on its cover that seems written long time ago was picked up.
A main character, young woman, attracted to this writing will start answering to it, thus resulting in communication with the person about who almost nothing is known.
When she will respond with her own notes, slowly stranger's identity will be revealed while numerous details are emerging, but also in that process she would be revealing herself.

The novel itself called ‘Ship of Theseus’ acts like a third main character and for its theme has story of a man without past who embarked on long sea journey in a unordinary ship with a strange crew.
Although first it seemed like an unimportant, gradually the theme of this book will show more and more relevant to what is happening between the two main characters...

As far as the design of the novel, it's also something where it excels. It comes inside the sleeve looking like an old style book bind in outdated way, with classic cover page and font which were used in the past, even with the stamp on it that says 'Book for loan'.

‘S.’ is exciting and fascinating piece of literature that can certainly be recommended to experience.
It's not surprising when we remember that the person behind this project, J. J. Abrams, is same guy who was producer, director or screenplay writer for numerous exciting movies and TV shows, e.g. Lost, Fringe, Mission: Impossible and many more.

What is sure you will enjoy to its last page, not able to put it down, although I don't want to spoil you reading pleasure with any additional details given that the novel is like his series, full of exciting twists and gradual story revealing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, 20 Dec. 2013
This review is from: S. (Hardcover)
This is a beautiful book, both in terms of the stories written in it and the presentation of the book. It really is a book that shows that a reader can't beat the experience of a physical book as opposed to a digital one. I love this book and every time I read it I discover something that I hadn't seen before.
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S.
S. by Doug Dorst (Hardcover - 29 Oct. 2013)
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