Friday, 23 August 2013

The End of Mr. Y

It’s been quite a while since I last wrote about books. Now I’m going to try and drag this whole Writing About Books idea back out of the darkness!

Previously, I tended to write about a selection of books by an author. From now on, I’ll probably write more about single books, as I read them.

…of course I’ve read half a dozen books since I last wrote about any, so it’s catch up time.

I’ll start with the book I read most recently: The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas

What the blurb says:

“When Ariel Manto uncovers a copy of The End of Mr. Y in a second-hand bookshop, she can’t believe her eyes.

She knows enough about its author, the eccentric Victorian scientist Thomas Lumas, to know that copies are exceedingly rare. And, some say, cursed.

With Mr. Y under her arm, Ariel finds herself swept into a thrilling adventure of love, sex, death and time-travel.”

What drew me to read this book is the mention of time-travel, curses, and overall air of mystery. Although it took me a little while to warm to the main character, I was soon sucked into the storyline and couldn’t put the book down!

One important thing to note is that this book will make you think.
It is by no means a light holiday read. It plays around with ideas of science, of philosophy, of religion.

But don’t let that put you off!

The End of Mr. Y really is worth the read, because it will make you think. It’s intelligently-written and refers to real historical figures and ideas (such as Einstein and his theory of relativity) alongside the fictional ones.

Whilst The End of Mr. Y is fiction, some of the questions and ideas within have been – and are still being – explored in the real world: by scientists, theologians, philosophers and so on.

It also remains a little uncertain about whether it is written from an atheistic or a theistic point of view. God is there, God isn’t there, God is created by us, God created us. It sounds contradictory but makes the story all the more interesting and I like that it isn’t too pushy with religion in either direction (though I suppose anyone could argue with me on that point. It depends how the individual interprets the storyline).

A couple of quotes:

“I may ask: why do I have an infestation of mice? Did someone curse me? Or did I just leave too much food out one day to tempt them? Or is life just as simple as there are mice?
“‘Fact’ is a word. Science itself is just a collection of words. I’m guessing that truth exists beyond language, and what we call “reality”. It must do; well; if it exists at all, that is.”

These two quotes might seem a little hard-going or ‘out there’ but again, don’t be put off or misled on the basis of these. A good fifty percent of the book is easy to read and whilst thought-provoking, it isn’t mentally taxing. The day I began reading this book I was feeling lethargic and under the weather but I sailed through the first 250 or so pages with ease!

This has already become a favourite book, favourite enough that I found it a place on my bookshelf instead of storing it in the cupboard with other books. (Only favourite books and interesting-looking books make it onto that bookshelf, so its new home is alongside The Historianand Cat Spells.)

I will definitely be looking out for Scarlett Thomas’ other books!

The TLDR: This is a thought-provoking adventure-fantasy novel that presents ideas from science, religion, philosophy and more within a fantastic storyline. Read it!

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