Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas

The End of Mr. Y (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Scarlett Thomas

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,056983,238 (3.75)194
Title:The End of Mr. Y
Authors:Scarlett Thomas
Info:Canongate Books Ltd (2008), Edition: Export ed, Paperback, 512 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:Fiction, Books About Books, Magical Realism, Time Travel, 2012, 1 Star

Work details

The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas (2007)

  1. 61
    Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder (mpettitt)
    mpettitt: Another book where philosophical thinking is encouraged within the plot
  2. 30
    The Prestige by Christopher Priest (gaskella)
  3. 20
    Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: Scarlett Thomas' earlier novel The End of Mr Y shares many similar themes with Our Tragic Universe
  4. 10
    Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (Anonymous user)
  5. 10
    The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman (riverwillow)
  6. 10
    Darkmans by Nicola Barker (VisibleGhost, Widsith, debbiereads)
    Widsith: Both slightly bonkers Kent-based novels-of-ideas with supernatural elements...I think Barker is the better writer, but Thomas has the whole geeky-cool angle covered.
  7. 10
    Mobius Dick by Andrew Crumey (Anonymous user)
  8. 10
    The Ghost Writer by John Harwood (GirlMisanthrope)
  9. 00
    The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (jonathankws)
  10. 00
    The Amnesiac by Sam Taylor (GirlMisanthrope)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 194 mentions

English (91)  Dutch (5)  German (1)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (99)
Showing 1-5 of 91 (next | show all)
I made a big mistake by not writing up my thoughts on this before I started reading my next book (The Bell by Iris Murdoch) as, despite really enjoying reading this, it's palling in comparison!

So, I had a number of doubts about this book prior to starting: I was worried it would turn out to be a Da Vinci Code/The Rule of Four style of book, neither of which I particularly enjoyed. Each of these books start out with a similar premise, in this case a rare book is found and an adventure ensues. Thankfully in this case, there is actually some originality involved!

The book in question has a 'curse' attached: the author, those involved in it's publication and everyone who has read it have all died shortly afterwards. Our 'hero' Ariel is a research student who happens upon a copy of the book and, of course, not only reads it, but experiments on herself after the fashion in the book thereby exposing herself to various dangers in the real world and in the world she finds herself in. There is a fantasy/sci-fi/semi-religious aspect to this book and a lot of deep philosophical issues, religious topics and theoretical physics (where's Prof Brian Cox when you need him??) are discussed along the way. I think that's partly what appealed to me most, the fact that this wasn't just a far fetched adventure story, but an exploration of more in depth theories too.

One of the things that will stay in my mind is towards the end, about the mice. Don't want to spoil the story by saying too much, but it reminded me why I don't like experimentation on animals. Finally, I still haven't decided if I liked the ending, a bit cheesy and possibly predictable (I didn't predict it), but as I 'clicked' I actually found myself smiling. Glad I read this, enjoyable story and lots to think about too.

(Since reading the book and writing this 'review' I've been to see "Uncaged Monkeys" where Prof Brian Cox gave a short lecture on Partical Physics (amongst other things) & I was happy to recognise some of the topics from this book - pleasantly surprised to actually understand some of it too!)
( )
  Cassandra2020 | Jan 24, 2016 |
I'm giving it four stars because I liked so much of it so much, but I was tempted to knock it down a star because really did not like the last couple pages. ( )
  ronhenry | Nov 17, 2015 |
This is a good goto book for lazy days. The author paints in broad strokes between topics like the existence of self (Nihilism), multiple realities (string theory) and how morality is perceived, splashed with an amalgamation of quirky characters that make this novel feel like an anachronism unto itself.

Halfway through the repeating introspection by the protagonist becomes prolix, but bearable if you feel particularly lazy. It made me stop and put the book down a couple of times.

A nice read, but not one I would revisit anytime soon. ( )
  wez | Sep 8, 2015 |
Really a lot of fun! Quite imaginative! ( )
  keithostertag | Nov 12, 2014 |
Whilst I agree that this has been oversold as far as unswervingly highbrow or hard SF readers are concerned, it's got plenty going for it as a character-driven fantasy novel, and Scarlett Thomas is becoming my new favourite comfort-reading author. (Even within my friends list, opinions of The End of Mr. Y range from "highly intellectual yet accessible" to "completely stupid", so this isn't the easiest review I've ever written.)

The book is, admittedly, comfortable because of its blend of familiar things I already love: impoverished postgrad Ariel has adventures whilst investigating work of fictional Victorian author (Possession, though the C19th pastiche extracts aren't half as good), drinks magic potion like Alice, encounters concepts from Pratchett's Small Gods and enters other minds like Granny Weatherwax gone borrowing or all those body-swap movies from the late 80s, and there's some Matrix type stuff for good measure. The overall tone is reminiscent of some of the stories in Neil Gaiman's wonderful collection Smoke and Mirrors, the narrative and plot being pushed by a protagonist with a strong personality and a darkish past and present, rather than by the SFF content itself. There's an argument for Scarlett Thomas's work as weirder, darker, more academically-inclined chicklit, but on the other hand, Ariel's angst and lust, and Thomas' moments of acute insight into messed-up people (esp. p277ish; also 345, 411 and all over the place really) are hardly different from the portrayals in Gaiman's male character-focused stories. (Unlike chicklit characters, Ariel never goes "huh! men!", tacitly seeming not to find them particularly 'other', and she hardly ever makes whole-gender-based generalisations. She spends a helluva lot of time thinking about other things [interesting things, not handbags and bad chardonnay] as well as love and sex, without seeing that as an either/or ... Thomas keeps writing characters I want to be friends with.) And as in Smoke and Mirrors, there are a couple of scenes sexier than plenty of stuff marketed as erotica - though there isn't as much shagging as some of the blurb quotes imply.

Reading posts about entirely different books made me realise that The End of Mr. Y will be of interest to people who like reversal of traditional gender roles in fantasy stories. Ariel is driving the adventure throughout, and her male love/lust interests are, as the adventure gets going, as peripheral and helpmeetish as they would be for a man in a typical action movie. This is perhaps less the case towards the end but I might just see it that way because I'm a bitter old hag who doesn't like characters experiencing unrealistically fulfilling romance, despite sometimes having falling asleep to ridiculous merging dreams like the final chapters; at the same time I could still think of plenty of stories in which the they would have been the other way round.

There's ample comment on Goodreads about inaccuracies in the characters' academic discussions (especially re. physics and the "linguistic turn" of philosophy and literary theory. The people who are complaining that homeopathy has an effect in the book simply need a reminder that this is fantasy fiction and that the works of Ben Goldacre can be overapplied.) The media has presented Mr. Y as formidably clever - to the chagrin of people who picked it up expecting some novelised Godel Escher Bach - but the tone of everything I read between the covers is casual musings from bright non-specialists ... it sounds like (and in some cases in the book is) conversations with friends after which you might realise you got something slightly wrong. If, for instance, Eng lit, theology and biology academics are riffing semi-drunkenly about what they've read in popular science books on quantum physics, what's here sounds fine in that context. (If I was joining in the pickiness, I'd say that Lamarck was presented as entirely infra-dig, although epigenetics - a topic that had already found its way into BBC documentaries a couple of years before Mr. Y was published - has given a new slant on his ideas. But then I realised that wasn't necessarily the point or the spirit of the book.) However I would have liked to have seen a little more determined accuracy from the narrator in tone as well as content in some of her home subject areas - if you're a postgrad you need to do that alongside the flights of enthusiasm.

But in the end the academic conversations are icing; you don't really need them to enjoy the rest of the book if you don't like them. The fantasy story is fine regardless - the chat and speculation is just how the characters look at their experience. Which I find more interesting than an unreflective adventure, though they do go on a bit sometimes.

I may only have given it four stars due to its faults and moments of derivativeness but I really loved The End of Mr. Y as I love too few books as an end in themselves. (Often I don't understand what the rest of you are on about re. loving books generally... A couple of years ago, a remover said, seeing the book cases, "So you like reading then?" The first, silent, response that came into my head, "Not really, but what the bloody hell else am I supposed to do?" ...Aloud, I made a vaguely affirmative non-verbal noise and started talking about cardboard boxes.) I was glad it was there when I couldn't sleep, I span it out so I could keep going back into its world - its plot analogy for addiction to an imaginary world actually applied - rather than trying to get it finished and ticked off. I'd have been delighted were it 1000 pages not 500, or if it was part of a series as long as Discworld. ( )
1 vote antonomasia | May 23, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 91 (next | show all)
Thomas writes with marvelous panache, although I wish she indulged less in her earnest calls for homeopathy and animal rights. Amid all the novel’s engaging questions about the nature of reality, it’s hard to get worked up about a subplot that has Ariel traveling through time to save laboratory mice. Still, she spins Derrida and subatomic theory into a wholly enchanting alternate universe that should appeal to a wide popular audience, and that’s something no deconstructionist or physicist has managed to do. Consider “The End of Mr. Y” an accomplished, impressive thought experiment for the 21st century.
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
But what if God himself can be simulated, that is to say can be reduced to the signs that constitute faith? Then the whole system becomes weightless, it is no longer itself anything but a gigantic simulacrum--not unreal, but a simulacrum, that is to say never exchanged for the real, but exchanged for itself, in an uninterrupted circuit without reference or circumference.--Jean Baudrillard
Indeed it is even possible for an entity to show itself as something which in itself it is not.--Martin Heidegger
For Couze Venn
First words
You now have one choice.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original language
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0156031612, Paperback)

A cursed book. A missing professor. Some nefarious men in gray suits. And a dreamworld called the Troposphere?
Ariel Manto has a fascination with nineteenth-century scientists—especially Thomas Lumas and The End of Mr. Y, a book no one alive has read. When she mysteriously uncovers a copy at a used bookstore, Ariel is launched into an adventure of science and faith, consciousness and death, space and time, and everything in between.
Seeking answers, Ariel follows in Mr. Y’s footsteps: She swallows a tincture, stares into a black dot, and is transported into the Troposphere—a wonderland where she can travel through time and space using the thoughts of others. There she begins to understand all the mysteries surrounding the book, herself, and the universe. Or is it all just a hallucination?
With The End of Mr. Y, Scarlett Thomas brings us another fast-paced mix of popular culture, love, mystery, and irresistible philosophical adventure.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:07 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Ariel Manto has a fascination with The End of Mr. Y, a book no one alive has read - maybe because it's cursed and everyone related to it (the author, various book collectors, Ariel's doctoral advisor) disappears. But suddenly she discovers a rare copy in a used bookstore. Using the book to follow in Mr. Y's footsteps, she falls into a trance and steps into the Troposphere - a wonderland of an alternate dimension where she can travel through time and space using the thoughts of others. And so Ariel launches into a heart-racing, brain-teasing, time-twisting adventure of science, faith, consciousness, death, and everything in between."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
67 avail.
195 wanted
3 pay1 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.75)
0.5 5
1 16
1.5 9
2 43
2.5 16
3 116
3.5 65
4 228
4.5 51
5 148

Canongate Books

3 editions of this book were published by Canongate Books.

Editions: 184195957X, 1847671179, 1847670709

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

» Publisher information page

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alumn

The End Of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas was made available through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Sign up to possibly get pre-publication copies of books.

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 105,249,333 books! | Top bar: Always visible