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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 12 November 2013
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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on 4 December 2013
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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on 23 December 2013
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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on 23 November 2013
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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on 11 March 2014
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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on 30 October 2013
This is something to behold. The minute you open the package and hold it in your hands you realise that this is (hopefully) the future of publishing and an antidote to the kindle-generation. Beautifully designed, a feast for the eyes and mind, a journey of multiple strands and clues and a sheer delight. A brave step for the publishers and very much our gain. The writing itself? A tour de force. More please.
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on 16 February 2014
I was given this book as a Christmas present due to my love of a another unusually crafted book House of Leaves. Opening the book was a sheer delight, a book full of footnotes and margin notes and beautiful slide out artifacts. The cover and early plot misleadingly hint at a thrilling mystery of intrigue and espionage. I read a couple of chapters but really laboured over the main story and the dense and heavy margin-notes. I googled how to read the book and decided to read the main story (Ship of Theseus) first. I'm glad I did, although this decision did have a downside: You see, the main story isn't very good. It's a real chore from start to finish, filled with repetitive plot strands, unexciting characters, plot-holes, a lack of surprises and a flop of an anti-climax. I knew that going back and reading the margin notes was now going to be a tough slog, especially since I didn't share the rabid adoration for this book that the fictional students corresponding in the margins do. The best I can muster for the main story was that it was at least readable. The margin notes however were very turgid and completely left me cold. The central mystery here is : who really wrote Ship of Theseus? Did I ever care, no. Candidates are hotly debated but there is nothing at stake, nothing to keep the reader engaged. The reader is strung along on the promise of some deeper mystery or conflict. Creepiness, danger, paranoia and subterfuge all waft in briefly and instantly waft out again and the whole story goes nowhere, instead collapsing into an embarrassing sappy love story. Not one of the beautifully crafted inlaid artifacts added anything to my enjoyment of this underwhelming novel. One in particular toward the end of the book, a heartfelt letter from Jen to Eric where she 'confesses' to something early in her childhood was so pathetically limp it made me want to hurl the book in the bin! It's one of the most maddeningly frustrating books I've read, made all the more so by the failure to live up to the genius premise and beautiful artwork. The end of the story offers no closure, instead relying on the reader's willingness to continue the research by googling the various puzzles in the book to get more clues and find closure themselves. I never felt remotely connected to any of the story and don't feel motivated to continue the search. So for me, this is: The End
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 9 November 2013
‘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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on 18 September 2014
The whole approach of this book with notes from two readers telling another story in the margin is more fascinating than its implementation in this case. It does take some concentration, and whilst it is clever it could easily lose a part-time reader like myself, or equally someone who just wants a good story to read - without all the piecing together (my elderly mother reads about 2 novels a week but this didn't get beyond the the 10th page).
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 September 2014
This book is interesting more for the form than the content. The whole idea of notes and marginalia is compelling, but, like Lost, it ended up being just a vehicle that led nowhere. I did read the entire book, even though I started getting bored about halfway through. With such a demanding read, there needs to be a big payoff; there wasn't one in this book.
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