Thursday, February 13, 2014


by Doug Dorst
conceived by J.J. Abrams
New York, N.Y. : Mulholland Books, 2013.

When a student working at a college library stumbles on a book that a grad student accidentally left behind - The Ship of Theseus by V.S. Straka - she starts writing back to his marginalia. Their correspondence in the margins of the book begins an investigation into who the elusive "V.S. Straka" may be, a mystery that grows all the more menacing as they realize the long arms of the people who worked against the mysterious "S."

The whole conceit of this book is, I have to admit, the most fascinating thing about it. The book is a thing of beauty, an old-fashioned grey hardcover with "The Ship of Theseus" on the spine (the box it comes in, which is pictured above, has the actual title), aged papers and a sewn spine. The design is perfectly in line with the idea that this is an old book, a title from an old high school library, and the second story - of the two students, Jen and Eric - unfolds in the margins in multicolored pen to give readers insight into the order of events. There's a decoder wheel and codes and inserts in between pages of the book. Really, you could spend so much time just trying to pick it apart that I would recommend buying it instead of borrowing it from the library, as I did. Then too, the story is a fun one and the reader does have to do some work as there are some things that Jen and Eric never explicitly spell out in their marginalia. Definitely worth checking out, and I'd read it again just to see if I understood the beginning better now that I know the end.

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