Author: Scarlett Thomas
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Age Group: Adult (18+)
Publisher: Canongate
Pages: 502
Release Date: 2006
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Bought from the charity shop.

First sentence:

The End of Mr. Y has been described as a novel about time travel though I don’t think this is entirely accurate. It is a novel with an undertone of biblical references and an overtone of quantum physics and philosophy. The story follows Ariel Manto after the collapse of one of the university buildings causes her to have to walk home because she isn’t allowed to go back in her building to get her car keys due to possible structural instability. As she hasn’t lived here for very long, it is the first time she has walked and on her way home, she finds a second hand bookshop and within buys a box of very rare books for £50, including a copy of a book thought to have only one copy left in existence in a vault in Germany. This book is ‘The End of Mr. Y’ by Thomas P. Lumas, a discredited mad Victorian scientist who focused on thought experiments. The catch? It is said to be cursed. Everybody who has ever read the book has died shortly after doing do.

I must admit, I picked this book up in the charity shop I volunteer in and brought it home because of the cover and the black page edges, I love the whole appearance of the book and that drew me to it. This is a book that proves that it can be okay to judge a book by its’ cover. Written in the first-person from the perspective of Ariel and in the present-tense, it’s quite easy immerse yourself in the story. The text isn’t overly descriptive, yet as you read, you can picture the environmental surroundings quite clearly. Thomas succeeds in switching voices easily between Ariel’s inner monologues and passages from The End of Mr. Y, to the different voices in the Troposphere. Ariel herself is very disconnected from reality and has an extremely addictive personality, openly admitting that she’s addicted to coffee and tobacco, and throughout the story, her addictions become more and more apparent.

It is a story absolutely full of the grim realities of sex and the inner workings of the human mind. It can be more than a little crude in some parts, though it wasn’t unnecessary, it added to the characters and created this idea that humans are nothing more than animals who have gained language. The story itself is gripping, though pretty weird, especially the ending.

The End of Mr. Y, while a wonderful story that grips you right until the very end, can also be a little long-winded. Ariel is a PHD student studying thought experiments, and very often she will start thinking, or talking, philosophically about quantum physics and the way the mind works. These can go on for quite a bit and I found myself skim reading them at times because I just wasn’t interested, but I advise you to endure them because they are relevant to the overall story.

I recommend The End of Mr. Y to fans of contemporary literature. It’s a great read full of mysteries for you to work out while you read if you enjoy that kind of thing, and it’s a mighty fine headfuck. If you like an easy to follow plotline, this definitely isn’t the book for you. The long passages about philosophy, thought experiments and quantum mechanics can quite easily lose you. I also wouldn’t recommend it for people under the age of about 18.