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on 28 December 2008
`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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on 14 June 2015
I remember the first time I saw this book. It was in the library and its red cover and velvet black pages seduced me instantly. I left with it clasped against my breast, my fingers caressing it. I must have looked like the creepy book junkie I am!

But of course you can’t judge a book just by it’s cover (or its velvety black pages!) The story needs to be good too. The End of Mr Y shares the story of Ariel Manto, a PhD student obsessed by the 19th century writer Thomas Lumas. He was the writer of the original ‘The End of Mr. Y’, a book that is now incredibly rare and rumoured to be cursed – everyone who has read it has died soon afterwards.

When Manto finds a second hand copy she is over the moon. It’s not that she’s unaware of the rumours, in fact that danger adds a certain spice to it for her. She’s the kind of woman who has affairs with married men. She is unconcerned with the future, now is everything to her. By the way, this is probably better reserved for over 16 as her affairs are aren’t just left to the readers imagination!

Lumas’ book is all about the “Troposphere” – a place where all consciousness is connected and you can enter other people’s minds and read their thoughts. It includes the recipe for a draft that Mr Y uses to enter the Troposphere. Of course Manto can’t resist recreating the recipe and on drinking it she enters the Troposphere herself.

Thankfully telling you too much about the plot is a naughty thing for a reviewer to do, after all you wouldn’t thank me for spoiling it all! And today I am exceedingly grateful for that! Describing the rest of this story would be very hard, although I really loved it I have to admit I wasn’t really sure what it all meant when I finished it the first time! I’ve read it twice more since then and I think I finally understand it now (just don’t test me on it!)

It’s not a book I’d recommend to everyone, it is rather long and if I’m completely honest it is probably a little too esoteric for some peoples taste. But I do recommend it for those that like a bit of challenge and specifically for people that don’t mind having their world view or spiritual assumptions questioned.

The story itself is brilliant, it’s intriguing and packed full of danger and the promise of secrets being revealed. The authors characterisations are spot on. None of her characters are off the peg, they are all complex and believable, if not always completely loveable.

I returned the book to the library, but I bought my own copy and it is one of the books I will never part with.

NB This review first appeared on The BookEaters Blog - http://www.thebookeaters.co.uk/
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 24 April 2017
Scarlett Thomas is a fun writer who often manages to weave maths or science into her work. This is no exception; we have forays into thought experiments and the theory of homeopathy.

The basic idea is that a young PhD student, Ariel Manto, finds a copy of a rare work by the subject of her thesis, Thomas Lumas. Not much is known of the book; only one copy is known to exist, stored in a bank vault in Germany, and there is a rumour that anyone who reads the book will die. Her supervisor has suggested she ignore the text in her doctorate, but the supervisor disappeared about a year ago… The book itself – a 19th century work called The End of Mr Y – finds the eponymous Mr Y visiting a circus sideshow and being intrigued by a clairvoyant.

This all sounds like the plot of a very bad self-published work, just waiting for the zombies to appear. Fortunately they don’t, and Thomas is a skilful enough writer to bring this potential implausibility into something coherent. But instead of zombies, we have a chase across international borders by some very dodgy American spooks, refuge being sought in monasteries and mind-reading.

At times the text feels over-long and some of the pseudo-science does get a bit hard to follow at times. But this is balanced by a genuinely intriguing plot whose direction is not always as obvious as it seems. There are multiple timelines and backstories all shepherded well and there are moments of sheer inventive brilliance. By the end, it all gets very surreal in a way that some people are not going to like, but I think it worked.

This is a novel that is a lot of fun. It’s ideal holiday reading; enough to think about and the pages keep turning without the need to take notes.
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on 30 June 2017
Just started reading this and can't put it down. Love it already.
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on 15 September 2017
One of my favourite books, atmospheric, funny, clever
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on 1 February 2014
What an amazingly complicated yet easy book to read, quantum physics included, the meaning of life, dreams, thought, recommend this to any true book lover
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on 11 November 2017
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on 22 June 2017
An engaging and compelling read.
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on 3 July 2013
Consider your thoughts as a map of travel into an underworld of the subconscious' created world and travelling through to the mind map of other's....
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on 17 July 2014
Nice idea but filled with holes and author ego. Some will love its almost psychedelic mix of science, philosophy and spiritualism. If that fails the sex may just keep you going, although that fizzles out fast too, like an old film where the camera fades to black just as it's getting good.
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