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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They are going to need a bigger book
This has split opinion here I see. I loved this book. To begin with I thought it was a little too influenced by the Matrix, a little too unbelievable. But it won me over because, while no doubt it is a very clever, post modern, hip text, it is also quite a moving depiction of love and grief.
Published on 19 Jan 2009 by avl06

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Response
A friend of mine recommended this book to me a year or so ago, but I've only got around to reading it recently.

Not wanting to give too much away, The Raw Shark Texts follows Eric Sanderson who loses his memory, and upon trying to put the pieces of his past together discovers he is under attack from a powerful force.

When I started the book, I...
Published on 1 Jan 2010 by Anderssen


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They are going to need a bigger book, 19 Jan 2009
By 
avl06 (The Village) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Raw Shark Texts (Paperback)
This has split opinion here I see. I loved this book. To begin with I thought it was a little too influenced by the Matrix, a little too unbelievable. But it won me over because, while no doubt it is a very clever, post modern, hip text, it is also quite a moving depiction of love and grief.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Response, 1 Jan 2010
This review is from: The Raw Shark Texts (Paperback)
A friend of mine recommended this book to me a year or so ago, but I've only got around to reading it recently.

Not wanting to give too much away, The Raw Shark Texts follows Eric Sanderson who loses his memory, and upon trying to put the pieces of his past together discovers he is under attack from a powerful force.

When I started the book, I immediately couldn't put it down. It draws the reader into Eric's strange circumstances from the very word go. As I got further into the text, I became increasingly impressed with the writer's creativity and imagination. However, to my disappointment the story begins to drag midway through. That's not to say the story loses it's way, or becomes any less imaginative. It simply suffers from going on too long (about 100 pages too long in my view). At the conclusion, there is much left to the reader's interpretation, but annoyingly there are also questions left unaddressed.

I'd still recommend this book to anyone ready for a fun and crazy read. I'll also look forward to the author's future publications.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun, fast and fearless., 29 Oct 2010
This review is from: The Raw Shark Texts (Audio CD)
I really quite enjoyed this book. It was quite a fast, easy read, while at the same time being quite intelligent with some interesting ideas.

The opening scene, with our hero waking up with absolutely no idea of who or where he is, is really gripping and an exciting concept. There are so many questions, so many possibilities as to where the story could go from here. Are the notes actually from his former self and can he be trusted? Does the doctor really have his best interests at heart or is there something sinister going on? Is Ian a spy? The book doesn't quite manage to maintain that momentum throughout but as we move away from the initial set up and introduce new characters and learn more about Eric's past, there is always enough going on, enough unanswered questions to hold your attention.

I quite like the use of typography in the book. At first I questioned how much it actually contributed to the story, but the further you get through, the more it makes sense for it to be included. The way that language and writing is used in the storyline is quite clever and also rather brave; a book about words and their power is something that I imagine a lot of people would find a dull idea. Indeed, it could easily have got that way if the author hadn't managed to take these ideas and incorporate them into what is essentially a good action-romance yarn.

Unfortunately, as is so often the case, the ending is the bit that let the book down the most. Without giving too many spoilers, we've just experienced an epic, disastrous grand finale, only to be fobbed off with something that was, in equal parts; the requisite happily ever after, open ended "interpret it how you will" and that laziest of lazies; the "it was all just a dream".
Despite this, I still thought this was a cracking read; it's the first book in a few months that I've really raced through, staying up to finish rather than just pottering through a few chapters at bedtime.

A perfect holiday book; read it on a beach in Santorini!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original and thought provoking, 1 Feb 2012
This review is from: The Raw Shark Texts (Paperback)
"Every single cell in the human body replaces itself over a period of seven years. That means there's not even the smallest part of you now that was part of you seven years ago."

When I finished reading Steven Hall's debut novel, "The Raw Shark Texts" I wasn't sure if it was brilliant, or if it was rubbish. I was not even sure that I was smart enough to tell the difference.

"The Raw Shark Texts" tells the story of Eric Sanderson. It opens as he awakens in a room with no idea of who or where he is. He finds a note to call one Dr. Randle, who will help him make sense of what is going on. It seems that he is suffering from memory loss, which is in some way tied to the tragic, accidental death of his girlfriend Clio a few years earlier.

Dr. Randle is some help, but shortly after arriving back home, Eric receives a letter from himself; apparently mailed months earlier. In it, he tells himself not to trust Dr. Randle, and that things are not what they seem. It is signed - "The first Eric Sanderson". That's when things get interesting.
It's close to impossible to explain the story from here. Eric gets attacked by a shark in his bedroom. When he starts reading the letters from "the first Eric Sanderson" he learns that this shark is a "conceptual fish " that feeds on people memories.
What follows is a story about the deep loss you feel when you lose someone you love. It's a story about the power of memory and an exploration of what make us "us".
It's a story about ideas and identity, about shared experiences, about the ties that bind us together. Most importantly, it's a story about finding the strength to define who you are, and will be, on your own terms.It's a frightening, funny and daring mess.
There is myth and movies, classic novels, philosophy and psychology, all served up with a hefty dose of pop culture. It is a multimedia reading experience .Hall uses text, images, and visual concepts. It's not only a book you need to read - it's a book you need to see.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique, intellectually exciting, bloody brilliant novel, 26 Mar 2007
By 
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Raw Shark Texts (Hardcover)
When is the last time you read an "I woke up with amnesia" novel that was actually original and unique? Probably never - unless you've read Steven Hall's debut novel, The Raw Shark Texts. Hall totally unleashes the power of words and memories in the form of a Ludovician, a powerful conceptual fish that swims in the streams of human experience and communication, a devourer of memories that, should it focus on one specific individual, will not stop pursuing that unlucky victim until he has taken everything that made that individual the person he/she was. A person's only real defense against this most relentless of pursuers is the establishment of a non-divergent conceptual loop, a bubble in the pathways of human interaction that hides the individual from the tell-tale signs of cause and effect. No matter how many words and concepts you wrap around yourself, though, you can't hide forever, not from this predator.

Eric Sanderson wakes up, face down on the carpet, with no self-identity or personal memories - but he does have a note instructing him to immediately call a Dr. Randle for help. According to the doctor, his is a rare case of disassociative disorder mixed with psychotropic fugue, its root cause tracing back to the death of a lover named Clio Aames two years earlier. Eric's former self is forgotten but not exactly gone, however, as letters from the First Eric Sanderson arrive almost daily. Eric ignores these communications on Dr. Randle's orders - until, that is, a most frightening and unexplainable event shakes the foundations of his newly rekindled world. Learning of the Ludovician-based danger he is in, Eric eventually sets off to retrace his former self's steps in an attempt to find the one man who might be able to help him, the mysterious Dr. Trey Fidorous. The First Eric Sanderson, we learn, had been obsessed with finding a way to undo Clio's death, and his desperate efforts to do so (with the help of Dr. Fidorous) led him to a hole in un-space, but rather than save his beloved he managed to unleash the text shark that now pursues the Second Eric Anderson.

Think of un-space as the unknown labyrinth beneath us and the abandoned locations hidden throughout the world around us. It's not an easy place to find, especially if you're on your own and all you have are assorted fragments of your former self's past and a coded manuscript you are still trying to decipher. You need help, and Eric eventually finds such help in the person of Scout, a mysterious character in and of herself - for a vast number of reasons. As Eric's quest intensifies, concept comes to trump reality, setting the stage for a conclusion that may push the limits of some readers' disbelief too far but will delight those with a strong literary imagination who yearn for something different. Hall's daring and experimental way of presenting the Ludovician's approach to the story's final battle was rather brilliant, if you ask me.

I've barely touched the surface when it comes to the depth and intellectual range of this most unusual novel. It's so different that I can't even begin to do it justice. It's just as emotionally powerful as it is intellectually abstract, and it serves up quite an action-packed conclusion. Action, intrigue, mystery, romance, coded messages, conceptual sharks - this novel really has it all, and its creativity and originality more than make up for any slight plot-related missteps along the way. I daresay you've never read anything quite like The Raw Shark Texts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tough going...little reward, 19 Jun 2011
By 
This review is from: The Raw Shark Texts (Paperback)
Maybe I'm not 'clever enough' to get 'it'. Maybe I interpreted it exactly as the author intended.

Either way my opinion is this book is pretentious, hard going, and not even very rewarding when you do reach the end. And don't get me started on the Jaws ending. The author is gonna need a bigger conceptual boat for his next novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ingenious, 1 Jun 2010
This review is from: The Raw Shark Texts (Paperback)
Just a taster of this fiercely inventive sci-fi noir on the written page: its title is actually a take on Rorschach Test (a mainstream test used in psychiatry). Nothing more could sum the book better: it is a rich and profound exploration of a grieving man's psyche that's dressed as an absurdist fantasy thriller. A groggy amnesiac who wakes up a stranger in his own home and is reeling from intense grief of his partner's accidental demise, as his world noisily disintegrates and melts into a choking liquid world of alphabets and words, he starts on a quest to find the reason behind his state in a parallel universe. Propelled by the teasing puzzles of enigmatic letters left by his "earlier" self and the emotional gravitas of a journal capturing a doomed Greek holiday with his girlfriend, he races in a Wonderland from "conceptual" sharks, joined by a female fugitive on her own mission to beat this humongous villain who's basically an engulfing mass of consciousness constantly and virally increasing in size. The book's compelling because this trippy alternate reality is a handsome, mind-bending spin on the real world where everything tangible is basically just a constructed "concept"-transcribed in ink. The world's just submerged in a flood of information, to an extent that all this information has morphed into organic physical entities-living and non-living capable of genuine texture, tactile property and malice. On another level, in this world of anti-matter and un-space, how real is the peril our protagonist faces? One wonders this aloud as the middle act of the book rather self-indulgently keeps popping one set-piece after another for our lead couple to run through. Thankfully, the final 50 pages tie things up beautifully, and because it climaxes on such a high note, you forget its plodding middle act or the sometimes-overwritten sentences to attempt a sensory-accuracy of 99.99%.

Even though Mr Hall's imagery and action constantly nods to familiar science fiction blockbusters (especially the staging which is very big-screen-esque), it is his nuances in the book's quieter moments plus his turn of phrases and use of original,imaginative metaphors in his protagonist's contemplation and madness that really burns the book in your memory. The grief and the need for Sanderson (our protagonist) to put his world together strikes as genuine, and the pathos is forever palpably floating amidst the dialogue and the action and the high-strung emotion. It's rather intense. Those three-four scenes with his girlfriend before the godawful tragedy, his interactions and interpretation of his cat Ian's gestures imbibe the book with a heart which keeps one going as the book freewheels into pulpy chase caper with a somewhat stilted love-dalliance. It's also great to see another author influenced by Murakami, and not only does Mr Hall quote the surreal-story maestro from the East, he attempts a little Murakami dance himself in the form of a folk story insert to give his surreal absurdist creation a historical vantage. And although the lightness of hand is missing, he actually manages to gets away with it quite handsomely. Just like the painstaking detail with which he attacks the fringe trivia about inanimate objects-it is so Murakami, it's uncanny. Still, his influences, winks and nods aside, the yarn with it's existential and emotional wallop is Hall's and Hall's alone. I was also thoroughly engaged with his typographic play: an illustration here, a photo there, a puzzle somewhere, hell! there's even a mini flipbook in there that captures an oncoming shark in the penultimate act.

Altogether the book's a trip alright, and can be re-read on more than one levels and enjoyed. Even as I write, this has turned into a little contemporary cult classic, waiting to be adapted for the big screen. And why not!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fist full of Zen., 5 May 2010
By 
This review is from: The Raw Shark Texts (Paperback)
Like many of the others who have reviewed this book, I found it immensly enjoyable to read. It was for me a page turner and, if I did not have small children demmanding attention, I could have finsihed it in one sitting. It brought back the joy of reading due to the sheer creativity the writer shows in devloping the plot and the wonderful conceit he shows in the opening paragraphs. My one bone of contention, and I could be wrong here, is that he does not acknowledge at the end any debt of influence to Haruki Murakami, and the novel hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. Hall's use of some of the same kinds of plot devices, his ending where the hero dies in the "real world" but seems to live on in a hyper reality seem all to similar to the Japanese original. Also his underworld and even the access to it seem very familiar to any one who has read Murakami.
That however is my only criticism, the books inventiveness, it's tension, without resorting to excessive violence all make it for me book that I feel I could re-visit at some point in the future. That said I will probably re-read " Hard Boiled..." first.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Watch out for the conceptual fish!, 5 Aug 2007
By 
Mikko Saari (Tampere, Finland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Raw Shark Texts (Hardcover)
ric Sanderson wakes up with a problem: he's lost his memory. With clues he has left, he finds his way to a psychologist and finds out he's suffering from psychological damage left by a trauma. Or is he? He could also be under an attack from a conceptual shark, trying to eat his past.

The Raw Shark Texts is an imaginative book: an exciting thriller and a magical story set where the information and imagination collide. Steven Hall has an arts degree and has decorated the book with clever typographical art that fits the theme well.

Italo Calvino and Jorge Luis Borges come to mind, but Hall is not quite as profound. Some will say The Raw Shark Texts pales in comparison, but I did find it much more accessible than Borges' work. Perhaps it's another case of popular culture versus high art. In any case, The Raw Shark Texts is an intriguing book and worth reading in my opinion. (Review based on the Finnish translation)
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh and never less than intriguing, 17 July 2009
By 
Grr "Gumbo" (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Raw Shark Texts (Paperback)
Some really split opinions here - that does not surprise me one little bit. This is the sort of book which will breed derision, raptures and uncertainties in equal measure.

I personally really, really enjoyed it. As an overall concept it is bonkers fun and stretches the boundaries often. Fair enough, it does not reinvent the wheel but it does play merrily with conventions and genres and show utter disregard for novel structure at times. This is something that I appreciated but am well aware it would infuriate others.

Much has been said on here about the cultural references and pilfering. I don't see this as a problem at all. This has happened in litreature since the invention of ink and paper and won't end anytime soon. As long as the steals are intelligently done and for a reason then that works for me - which is the case here in my opinion.

Another criticsm is the under-developed main character. Surely that is the whole point? A man searching for his identity and memory is hardly going to be fully rounded. It is worth noting that, for me, his character fleshed out progressively throughtout the book (as it should do).

Other things that have been referred to as poor:
The blatant steal from 'Jaws' at the end - well ok, it is a pretty direct steal but it is used in an irreverent and cheeky way. Jaws is my all time favourite fil and I had no problem with this part of the book at all.

The 'flip book' bit and the messed around text - pretentious? Yeah, it probably is but so what? I felt it added to the story and was not gratutitous.

Cliched characters - it is a genre/pulp novel at heart (albeit a crazed riff on one) so 'stock' characters didn't grate on me at all.

Overall, I thought the book was thorougly entertaining, witty, bold and intelligent. And calling a cat Ian is a little bit funny!
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The Raw Shark Texts
The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall (Paperback - 6 Sep 2007)
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