Buy this book at
To Past Reviews Index
Back to Last Page

The End of Mr Y

Scarlett Thomas

Average Review Rating Average Rating 7/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Canongate Books Ltd

Published : 2007

Copyright : Scarlett Thomas 2006

ISBN-10 : PB 1-84767-117-9
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-84767-117-2

Publisher's Write-Up

When Ariel Manto uncovers a copy of The End of Mr Y in a second-hand bookshop, she can't believe her eyes. She's read about its author before, the outlandish Victorian scientist Thomas Lumas, and this is his most notorious, and rarest, book. It is also believed to hold a curse. Anyone who's ever read it, including Lumas, has disappeared without trace.

With Mr Y under her arm, Ariel is thrust into an adventure of love, sex, death and time-travel.

''Ingenious and original… A cracking good yarn fizzing with intelligence.'

Philip Pullman

'A masterpiece… A brilliant, engaging story that in the end makes you rethink the nature of existence and the true structure of the world .'

Douglas Coupland
Column Ends


Reader Reviews

Why not Submit a Review your own Review for this book?

Review by Chrissi (161207) Rating (7/10)

Review by Chrissi
Rating 7/10
Bloody hell but this has got to be one of the hardest books I have ever read... It reads like a novel but it contains so much metaphysical stuff that I my poor brain struggled and I just wanted it to get back to the story.

The End of Mr Y is a mythical, cursed book, discussed only by those aware of its existence, who seem to be scholars of philosophy and science. Ariel has heard of this book and she attends a lecture by a man called Saul Burlem on the possibility of a curse. Whilst talking and having a drink after his lecture, he suggests that she may like to do a PhD on Thought Experiments.

Ariel starts her PhD and one afternoon, having been sent away from the University as one of the campus buildings has fallen into an old train tunnel, she finds a copy in a second hand bookshop. Ariel spends the last of her money on the book and takes it home where she reads it, only to find out that a recipe has been removed which allowed Mr Y to enter a mysterious world in which he was able to enter the minds of other people.
Ariel becomes obsessed with finding the pages torn from the book and having realised that the book had belonged to Saul Burlem, searches for the pages among his personal effects, but he has been missing for several months and she believes that his disappearance is linked to the reading of the book.

So far, so good, but there is some pretty heavy philosophical stuff that you have to wade through to get to the next part of the story. I found this annoying, almost as though the writer was illustrating the depth of their knowledge of such things, rather than providing me, the reader, with the knowledge necessary to appreciate the salient parts of the story.

I have a confession to make, I did put this book down at one point, and did not pick it up again for a week or so, so demoralised I was at the prospect of more stuff that did not engage me. I picked it up again only to find that I had only been two pages from the resumption of the narrative, and an interesting turn taken.

The cycle of deep conversations and difficult intellectual conundrums interspersed with the development of the story continued. Although I found myself willing the narrative on, I did not mind so much the rather weird deviations that I was required to read before I could get on with the rest of the story.

Having finished it, I find that some of the philosophical stuff has registered on some level, and although I would not investigate them further, they did add a certain something to the narrative. The analysis of free will and the idea that something has to be thought of in order to become real is an interesting one and also quite disturbing.

I cannot imagine that this was an easy book to write, the initial inspiration must have lead to a large amount of thought on how to best to communicate it in a book. In this, the author has succeeded very well. It would appeal to anyone who enjoys deep discussion and has enjoyed the works of some existential philosophers, if you have read anything of that ilk, you would probably find this book more accessible than me, but even as a pleb with little or no knowledge of the subject, I can say that I enjoyed it – brain fizzed and confused but enjoyed nonetheless..
Chrissi (16th December 2007)

Back to Top of Page
Column Ends