Review – The End of Mr. Y

The End of Mr. Y was the start of my reviewing slump. I finished this book and decided to sit on it for a few days before writing. My thoughts needed to percolate. OK, so, I had no idea what this book was about and no idea what I thought of it. I didn’t know what to write. I still don’t know how to describe this book or what I think of it. Be patient. I plan to get there.

Ariel Manto is a woman with no plan. She’s a columnist for an obscure magazine and has made the bold choice of returning to academia to study even more obscure concepts than the ones she writes about. During her research, she comes across a book titled, The End of Mr. Y. This book is supposedly cursed and all who read it mysteriously disappear, including her advisor, who, before he went missing, told her abruptly to stop researching the book and forget the topic. Ignoring his advice, Ariel tracks down a copy of the strange book anyway and using a formula she finds outlined in the pages of the book, brews a drink that will take her into the troposphere — a strange dimension where she can enter the consciousness of others. Incidentally, this is where all the missing people are and it may be too late for Ariel to be saved.

So, the troposphere. I. Don’t. Get. It. First, it’s a mind experiment. Then a government conspiracy involved with what I think is some rouge version of the CIA involving autistic children. And there are all these mice involved. It’s confusing. As. All. Hell.

There’s so much going on in this book. At times, it feels like a mystery. Other times it feels like an academic paper on physics gone wrong. And all the mice — what was with the mice?

At one point, as Ariel is entering the troposphere, she ends up in the mind of a mouse. It’s entertaining for a bit but then it keeps going and we end up finding out that there’s a mouse god. Well, he’s not really a mouse, but he is to Ariel and no amount of explaining fixed that he was still a mouse. For me or for Ariel.

There’s a love story here as well. And, Ariel, well, she’s not a good candidate to be part of a love story. She sleeps with anyone, for almost any reason. Model of a happy, healthy relationship she is not. I couldn’t buy into her suddenly being in a semi-normal relationship, especially when her new partner is a former priest with lots of issues.

Here’s what got me with this book — it didn’t feel accessible. Physics is not something I know much about but I’m a curious person and I will read almost anything that promises science of some sort. That’s what drew me to this book. Unfortunately, for me, it didn’t work. I felt disconnected from the story. I wanted the characters to bring me in, but they didn’t. All of the characters are such a strange mismatch of people. I had high hopes for them since I do tend to like characters on the weird side, but they didn’t have any harmony. Every character felt separate and didn’t mesh for me.

This wasn’t the book for me but I will say that it hasn’t turned me off of Scarlett Thomas’s writing. She’s incredibly, so incredibly creative. In fact, this is a very smart book. Plot wise, it’s crazy but even though I was struggling with it, I never wanted to stop reading. I just wasn’t getting it. Maybe that says more about me than the book. Who knows.

Have you read this one? Thoughts? Opinions?

The End of Mr. Y
By Scarlett Thomas
Harcourt
ISBN: 9780156031615
2.5 stars

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4 thoughts on “Review – The End of Mr. Y

  1. I read this but it was so long ago I barely remember anything about. I remember finding the first — say, half? — of it very, very absorbing, and then it kind of lost me as it went on. It wasn’t the troposphere, I don’t think, so much as I just got tired of Ariel and her hang-ups.

    • It was good until about half way and then it went off the deep end for me. I’m good with weird but this didn’t do much for me but I liked parts of it. Overall, though, it had too many sharp edges and a good deal of that had to do with Ariel and her bad choices.

  2. The mice remind me a classic British science-fiction book, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams, where mice have built a supercomputer named Earth to find the Ultimate Question (the Ultimate Response was 42). but they also help us thinking about our connectedness with every other living organism, even the ones we gently despise (Ariel was not even killing them, she was releasing them outside after having caught them).

    • I love The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. One of my favorite books! Honestly, I loved the mice in that book (so cheeky!). In this one, I liked the idea of the mice and how Ariel was helping them, and how that reflected on her need to help not only herself but others, but, I couldn’t get into it. Sometimes these things happen.

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