Book Review: “S” by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst!

Everyone I know has a TikTok account. TikTok is algorithmic, so every user sees different videos based on the algorithm of their past viewing behaviour. I got onto “Booktok” a few months ago and have been on that part of TikTok ever since. I’ve gotten so many amazing recommendations from TikTok videos, including S by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst!

Summary: One book. Two readers. A world of mystery, menace, and desire. The chronicle of two readers finding each other, and their deadly struggle with forces beyond their understanding — all within the margins of a book conceived by Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams and written by award-winning novelist Doug Dorst. The book: Ship of Theseus, the final novel by a prolific but enigmatic writer named V.M. Straka, in which a man with no past is shanghaied onto a strange ship with a monstrous crew and launched onto a disorienting and perilous journey. The writer: Straka, the incendiary and secretive subject of one of the world’s greatest mysteries, a revolutionary about whom the world knows nothing apart from the words he wrote and the rumors that swirl around him. The readers: Jennifer and Eric, a college senior and a disgraced grad student, both facing crucial decisions about who they are, who they might become, and how much they’re willing to trust another person with their passions, hurts, and fears.

This book is super cool. There are 22 different inserts in the actual book that you can pull out and look at! There are newspaper articles, handwritten notes, pictures, and more. The plot of the written book is interesting, but you get the multiple point-of-views from the two readers, Jen and Eric. With their handwriting in the margins, you get to look at the text in a whole new light.

Reading this book has been such an experience. That’s the only word that I can think of to describe it. This is such a multi-faceted book with so many underlying themes and mysteries. The two readers, Jen and Eric, form a friendship through their reading of this book and try to figure out the mystery of V.M. Straka, the writer of The Ship of Theseus. I have sincerely enjoyed seeing this book through their eyes. I see the plot points in new ways and can connect it to other works because of their annotations and margin notes.

This is just such an interesting concept for a book. When I first unboxed it, it looked like a genuine library book. It has the old-book smell (bookworms, you know what I’m talking about) and the yellowing of the pages looks so real. The handwriting in the margins doesn’t look like it was printed on–it literally looks like someone wrote in the book and then it was packaged up and sent to me. I’m not sure of the exact production process for this book but I am obsessed with it.

This book retails for $45 on Barnes and Noble, which I have linked right here. Full disclosure, I had some leftover gift card money from my birthday, so I was able to snag this book for just over $26. Even if I hadn’t had the gift card, I would have forked up the full $45. This book was so good and was such an experience; I felt like I was right there with Jen and Eric as they put together the mystery of VM Straka.

I highly recommend this book to everyone who likes a bit of mystery. It is so fully-fledged and a multi-faceted idea that will leave you sitting on the edge of your seat. I enjoyed it immensely and just know that I will pick it up again soon. Have you heard of it before? Do you have any recommendations? Let me know down in the comments! And, as always, thank you so much for reading!

Love,

Kaitlin

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