S by J.J. Abrams

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four and a half dragons

Some of you may know this book by the title Ship of Theseus, but that is technically the name of the book the characters are writing in, whereas the complete book including notes, additional letters, maps, and napkins full of information taken in total is titled S.

With that in mind I’m going to break this review in two to share my thoughts on both S and the Ship of Theseus.


I honestly wound up skipping the annotations and the notes and all of the additional material (except some particularly cool ones like the quote card that reminds me of a tarot card) because they didn’t add to the story. There was no coherence to them and they referenced things that happened off screen but didn’t give any detail just vague hints about being followed by someone or equally vague “bad things”.

This was such an amazing idea but it could have been done so much better. I wanted these notes to come into the story and add to the characters. Instead these were two separate stories that never truly connected. One was fantastical and the other was a thriller at best, poorly done realism at worst. I could see no reason for all the added information. It didn’t help that I got this book after my husband read it so I know the letters were on the wrong pages as well. This makes it nearly impossible to pass on this book to anyone who might be truly interested because I can guarantee we don’t have the entire thing anymore. I know that quote card I mentioned is now a bookmark in my husband’s current read.

It added a layer of interest but then didn’t follow up. I felt very fancy while reading it, at least. And it apparently led one of my coworkers to assume I was studying for a college class. Nope. Though I do feel like this is one of those books that a literature class would love and could truly delve into.

Ship of Theseus

An intriguing story that pulls you in from the very first words. I wanted to know everything about this person and why he couldn’t remember his life. This book is a psychotropic in and of itself. I found myself lost in different worlds and wondering at the meaning of it all. I don’t know that I personally got an answer to that question, but maybe others did.

**Spoiler alert**
I disagree with the conclusion. Fighting matters but so does ending tyranny. To fight for so long only to shrug at the final battle and walk away was infuriating. It would be like being able to kill Hitler but deciding “Meh, it’s fighting him that matters” and walking away. This only works if you view the main bad guy from a strictly metaphysical standpoint. He is “evil” and the continued fight against evil is what matters, but if you view him as a physical person then his death is ultimately necessary.

** end of spoiler alert**

The ship on which our main character ends up on is such a fascinating character in its own right. I grew to wonder about it and its motivations as much as any of the other characters. It’s understandable why this ship gave the novel its name.

In the end I honestly don’t know if I should give this book five dragons or one. I think I’ll settle for four and a half because I did enjoy it and I love talking about it. The main detraction is that the annotations didn’t seem to matter.

Let me know your thoughts on S or Ship of Theseus in the comments below.

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