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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spooky, clever and bizarre!
`The End of Mr Y' is a very hard book to describe. It has all the adventure, intelligence and religious theology of Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy, mixed with the suspense and spookiness of Elizabeth Kostova's "The Historian", and the bizarreness of a Haruki Murakami novel. I loved it!

It is a real page turner. You are quickly drawn into the...
Published on 28 Dec 2008 by Jackie

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poststructurally correct
The End of Mr. Y is a philosophical thriller. I don't think it is a coincidence that Ariel Manto, the protagonist, is writing her PhD thesis on thought experiments or that we are told that "all thought experiments are stories." Ariel is a huge fan of the postmodern French philosopher Jacques Derrida. Parts of his thought, along with bits of Heidegger and Baudrillard, are...
Published on 20 Nov 2011 by A. Lindholm


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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spooky, clever and bizarre!, 28 Dec 2008
This review is from: The End Of Mr. Y (Paperback)
`The End of Mr Y' is a very hard book to describe. It has all the adventure, intelligence and religious theology of Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy, mixed with the suspense and spookiness of Elizabeth Kostova's "The Historian", and the bizarreness of a Haruki Murakami novel. I loved it!

It is a real page turner. You are quickly drawn into the world of Ariel, as she finds a copy of a rare, cursed book in a second hand bookshop. Everyone else who has ever read this book has died. Ariel discovers the secret of the cursed book, and sets out on a mission to rescue her University tutor, travelling through the `troposphere' via both time and thoughts.

The writing is very vivid. At one point you get a mouse's perspective of the world, and I think this is one of the best sections of writing I have read this year. I now know exactly what mice are thinking, and have a strange desire to look after them all now!

It does get a bit technical in places, and I think that those who do not have a scientific background may struggle to understand some sections. I have a degree in chemistry, but still didn't manage to follow all the finer details of some of the `thought experiments'

Overall I found it to be a thought provoking book, with great characters and an intelligent plot.

Recommended to anyone who likes a bit of science in their fiction!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poststructurally correct, 20 Nov 2011
This review is from: The End of Mr. Y (Paperback)
The End of Mr. Y is a philosophical thriller. I don't think it is a coincidence that Ariel Manto, the protagonist, is writing her PhD thesis on thought experiments or that we are told that "all thought experiments are stories." Ariel is a huge fan of the postmodern French philosopher Jacques Derrida. Parts of his thought, along with bits of Heidegger and Baudrillard, are to be found throughout the book.

The story is straightforward enough. By chance, Ariel stumbles upon a very rare copy of the 19th century novel The End of Mr. Y by the Victorian eccentric Thomas Lumas. Lumas--I should point out that he is fictional--is remembered, if at all, mainly for once having punched Charles Darwin. The book allows Ariel to enter the Troposphere, or MindSpace, where she can access all consciousness. She enters through a tunnel of written symbols, suggesting that all consciousness is based on language. (If I have understood this correctly, this implies a contradiction in the premises of the story. If consciousness is founded on language, why does the Troposphere allow Ariel to enter the minds of speechless creatures like mice?) She is then pursued by evil ex-CIA agents, who want to sell the secret formula.

I wasn't that impressed by the book. It is not that I strongly disapprove of Derrida or Heidegger. The story just isn't that exciting. I have read several books by Philip K. Dick and most of Haruki Murakami. They, too, are writers who deal with the mysteries of mind, consciousness, and reality, and they often find ways to make the narrative more compelling. I am not suggesting that Scarlett Thomas has attempted to write the same kind of story. I am merely pointing out that other authors have entered the same general territory and managed to write better fiction.

One reason that I didn't find the story that compelling is the fictional narrator herself. Ariel Manto isn't a very enticing person. She exudes a certain smugness that I find jarring. If you like, you could call her "poststructurally correct" or something to the same effect. I can't escape the feeling that she looks down on people who don't share her philosophical outlook, like the evolutionary biologist Heather. At a crucial stage of the story, she finds the time to make a digression concerning why she disapproves of all world religions.

All in all, The End of Mr. Y is not a bad book. I just didn't find that is was quite as great as many others seem to have.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A real Marmite* book, 21 May 2009
This review is from: The End Of Mr. Y (Paperback)
I've just finished reading this book, and whilst it's got its flaws I really enjoyed it.

The book itself is fairly well written. The pacing is a little off in places but there's a hefty plot behind it, and it deals with some very brave and ambitious subjects at the expense perhaps of not having a huge amount in the way of sub-plot or side stories going on. It's an entertaining and pretty gripping tale, with a main protagonist who is a likeable accidental hero.

I can however see why the book isn't everyone's cup of tea. There are times where it spends too long talking about psychology authors that I've never heard of and a lot of this was over my head, but that said I'm usually happy to read stuff that's outside my comfort zone; how better to learn things? The physics discussions I could follow more easily, but then I'm a geek. (-:

Arguably a lot of this dialogue is superfluous and could be trimmed, but I suppose it does help to colour the characters and show what drives them, and makes it logical for them to then be discussing their discoveries and dissecting exactly what they've found rather than just experiencing it superficially or running away scared.

A few people have made comments regarding sex and language in the book. Now, the sex in the book isn't hugely graphic or in great swathes of lengthy prose, and it's mentioned as a topic on the back of the book, so I don't really see it as an issue. Language, yeah, there's swearing in it, but no more than any other adult fiction. I guess if the last book you read was Harry Potter then it might be a bit of a culture shock, but it really isn't the novel of depravity that you might expect.

What I do find interesting is that looking at the reviews here, different people have enjoyed different bits. There are comments here from people who enjoyed it up until the Troposphere sections, and from others who thought that this was the best feature of the book. Some people really loved the book, some people hated it ("best book I have read" ... "Avoid"); it does seem to provoke a pretty polar reaction in people - there aren't many three-star reviews here.

It's not perfect, but it's something different, and ultimately that's what makes it a winner for me.

(* - other yeast extract products are available)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 22 May 2014
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This review is from: The End Of Mr. Y (Kindle Edition)
I really enjoyed this book it had me hooked from the start with the university building falling into the tunnel underneath! Scarlett Thomas is an excellent and most creative author. The book is well written with some fantastic descriptions, for example when Mr Y enters the troposphere. This first journey is described so eloquently the reader can picture it very clearly. There are also some marvellous moments of black humour, I know I shouldn't have laughed when Wolf returned from his disastrous weekend away at his girlfriend parents house and had run over the dog in the mini tractor (lawn mower) but I'm afraid I did(sorry dog lovers). Some of the ideas are hard to understand especially the science but I went with the flow and just decided to accept it rather than puzzle over it! Similarly the philosophical ideas especially Heidegger who is frequently referred to. However, despite the lack of personal knowledge here, I found the whole concept fascinating and extremely thought provoking so I guess it doesn't matter that you know little about these eminent people or were a duffer at science at school!! I liked the characters especially Ariel who though she is flawed is very honest and brave. Adam was also very interesting character and though we are given some understanding of him towards the end I would have liked to understand him better. The end is fantastic - I won't spoil it for future readers! Would recommend this book because it is so completely different - definitely not run of the mill.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reports of the death of mystery greatly exaggerated, 31 Oct 2008
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This review is from: The End Of Mr. Y (Paperback)
Full marks for ambition: no doubt about it. Scarlett Thomas, whose name sounds like a pseudonym but apparently isn't, shows real imagination and no small portion of erudition in constructing the world of Ariel Manto (whose name really is a pseudonym, and an anagram at that) and the "Troposphere" she happens upon when researching a long dead and forgotten Victorian mystic called Thomas Lumas, in which much of the action - and philosophical musing - comprising The End of Mr. Y happens.

Yes, you read that right: Thomas combines a conventional "confront/defeat the monster" plot, which could almost earn a Hollywood treatment, with some thickly-laid on metaphysics which, even in the hands of the Wachowski brothers (to whose films this book bears only the flimsiest of similarities), decidedly would not especially as, ultimately, Hollywood-grade plotting loses out to post-structuralist posing some way before the end. Now you don't see *that* happen too often, so three cheers for that. And in parts it is a joyous, righteous, pseudo-intellectual romp.

But in others it's just pseudo-intellectual: the means by which Thomas seeks to bring about her epistemological triumph over the (disappointly thinly drawn) bad dudes displays nothing like the lightness of touch such a manoeuvre requires. For one thing, she doesn't pull her philosophical punches at the slightest hint of stage 1 brain in a vat metaphysics, as a less ambitious (but more successful) writer might. Instead, she indulges on long ruminations, delivered in improbably lengthy and articulate chunks, about more obscure and difficult thinkers like Derrida, Baudrilliard, Heidegger and Husserl, with whom she should not expect the greater part of her (or any) audience to be well acquainted. Obliged, therefore, to indulge in exposition she elects to explain the salient insights of these thinkers through implausible conversations between characters who, if attention were being paid to plot arc and character development, would have better things to be thinking and talking about. Alas when she does have her characters do something else, it invariably involves copulating, which, given the narrative constraints she has imposed, is about as unlikely as casual dialogue about literary theory and to my reading seemed quite unneccessarily grittily depicted. As a way to give this novel an edge the fornicatory aspect seemed forced, gratuitous and, frankly, dull - like the intracies of Heidegger's dasein, a personal obsession Scarlett Thomas might have been better advised to keep to herself.

For all that, when she does allow the plot to dictate the pace it picks up mightily and zips along. The characters face some neatly constructed conundrums, crises and paradoxes which flow from and support her epistemological point.
The writing is playful and, at times, neatly constructed: there are in-jokes and word plays throughout, and I don't pretend to have got anything like all of them.

In the end - though it may pain Ms Thomas to hear it - the cod philosophy can be safely dispensed with and the slightly icky bonking glossed over, since the wonderful contrivance of Thomas Lumas (itself a self-referential play on words, I suppose) and his Troposphere with its console, its choices, the mouse god Apollo Smintheus and his misfiring scooter carry the day, no matter how incoherent the whole may ultimately be.

Olly Buxton
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, thought-provoking book, 22 May 2014
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This review is from: The End Of Mr. Y (Kindle Edition)
Scarlett Thomas is one of my favourite authors and this book is one of her best.

Ariel Manto is a student who manages to track down a copy of a book so rare she wasn't even sure it really existed. However the book is also believed to be cursed and from the moment Ariel takes possession of the book her life and the lives of those around her are placed in danger.

The story gradually becomes stranger and more fantastical, which I realise won't suit everybody, but if you are looking for a book that breaks a mould and makes you think, while still offering great characters and an interesting plot then this may well be the book for you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some fantastic writing, 6 Sep 2008
This review is from: The End Of Mr. Y (Paperback)
Defying classification- part thriller, part scientific/philosophical/ theological debate, this book intrigues and educates the reader as the main character, Ariel Manto, is tempted to enter the Troposphere, through which she can access the minds and understand the thoughts of others. This ability does not come without cost. The impoverished student soon finds herself on the run and depends on the kindness of a coulourful collection of characters for her salvation.
In my opinion, the book is delightful because, in spite of the fantastic elements, it is so firmly grounded in reality. The characters from the annoying office-mate Heather to the teenagers into whose minds Ariel jumps are depicted with such warmth that we can accept the more surreal elements of the plot. Yet the book also manages to incorporate debate about the nature and structure of reality.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an unusual and fascinating book full of intriguing ideas, 21 May 2014
This review is from: The End Of Mr. Y (Kindle Edition)
This is a book I didn't want to put down - it draws the reader in and is totally absorbing. It's part thriller, part fantasy with some interesting philosophical ideas. It was one of those books that I raced to the end of and then felt bereft! It's a book I will definitely re-read at a slower more thoughtful pace.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The only mystery (or Mr Y) here is the good reviews, 18 April 2013
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The Amazon J (Various, time dependent) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The End Of Mr. Y (Paperback)
An unlikeable protagonist, an unbelievable love story and 100 yards of exposition to get us to a pseudo-religious end to all the pseudo-scientific wittering that preceded it. This is an awful book, which only has a second star because of the imagery and horror of the trip through the mind of the lab mice - a scene that suggests the author does have some ability. Now if she could extend that ability to characters having real conversations, instead of quoting their favourite piece of science to each other, then we might have gotten somewhere. The 'mind world' constructed of thought, or language, isn't particularly original, but the scenes there are entertaining enough, it is having to wade through the waist deep exposition of pet ideas (Derrida-da-da-da) to get there that hurts. And the main character is so dull and self-obsessed. This is a mish mash of ideas with no coherence, little plot, a dreadful ending and a bunch of quotes on the cover that are more readable than the book itself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Original, quirky, clever, 18 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The End Of Mr. Y (Kindle Edition)
This book is hard to describe. Whilst reading it on my Kindle at work, I was asked several times what I was reading, what it was about, and I found it very hard to explain. It's a very original premise and has all the fantastic writing and intelligence we have come to expect from Scarlett Thomas. It's ambitious but it doesn't disappoint. I would place it somewhere between fantasy and sci-fi within the banner of fiction. It's philosophical and yet mundane, includes such literary exercises as writing from the perspective of a male mouse, there's bits of science and religion in there... It's a real mixture. Hard to describe.The one thing I disliked about the book was the preoccupation with homeopathy - it's a personal preference/view but I find all of that to be utter rubbish. I'm okay with it being in there as an interest for one of the characters but there were times when the author/narrator was just going on and on about it and it seemed like she was trying to sell it to you as a concept, and much like religious people knocking on my door, I didn't appreciate that. But I wouldn't let that detract from what is a truly amazing book. Her writing is always good - I have several of her other books and they are so varied and so well-written.
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The End Of Mr. Y
The End Of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas (Paperback - 12 Jun 2008)
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