Sunday, May 22, 2011

Review: The End of Mr. Y

Another book to add to the "finished" list. The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas is categorized by a reviewer as "chick lit for nerds." Seems like the narrator in this book, Ariel Manto, is very similar in nature to the narrator in the last book I read by Thomas (Popco) -- a sassy, intellectually curious woman with some personal life issues.

Ariel, a student doing research on thought experiments, finds a long-lost book with the recipe for a potion to transport a person into the "Troposphere," a quasi-spiritual realm of consciousness. Excerpts of this (made-up) novel, The End of Mr. Y, are included and are some of the book's most riveting.

Of course, things don't go so well for Ariel after she makes up a batch of this potion. Some ex-spies start chasing after her, leading to plenty of twists and turns in the plot.

I don't know enough about quantum physics and parallel universes to tell if the "Troposphere" is in much alignment with real science. Seems to me it's more like an exercise in imagination loosely based on a few popular science theories. Not that there's anything really wrong with that, but I think in the hands of a science fiction novelist, the novel could have risen beyond chick lit and into an instant classic. I thought Thomas didn't take it far enough ideas-wise as far as time travel, spirituality, quantum physics, computer theory, etc., which she briefly gets into but then just wraps up the story.

And the love story seemed like it was there because well, every chick lit novel has to have one, right?

Maybe that's the whole problem with the chick lit genre *sighs*. Still, Scarlett Thomas proves in this novel (again) that she can write entertaining novels that actually make you smarter. She's still up there on my favorite authors list. Next up: Our Tragic Universe.

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