Friday, October 16, 2009

The Raw Shark Texts

so then i moved on to The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall (i think, i have to be more on the ball with these reviews, because i really feel like ive missed a few books somewhere along the line, but maybe i just slowed down the pace a little bit). i have to admit that while i was reading this book, i was thinking of ways to describe it in review. and i came up with two ideas that i couldnt decide between, so i shall present you with both. take your pick.
1) this book would be best described as the kind of thing my sister would like.
2) this book would be best described as an artsy-fartsy version of science fiction and thriller
perhaps numbers one and two are synonymous. i dont know. anyway to give you the basic frame work it goes like this: (bear with me, i didnt write it) there is this guy named eric who doesnt remember anything about himself before waking up on his bedroom floor. absolutely nothing. eventually, he discovers that he is being hunted by a "conceptual shark" that swims in the ocean of ideas that link concepts together. he realises that in his previous life before his memory loss, the shark got a hold of him and that was how he lost his memory in the first place. rather than trying to hide from it for the rest of his life, he seeks out some people who maybe able to help him capture and/or kill it. if you can bring yourself to swallow all of the bizarre conceptual fish hunting a real person stuff, the story is very interesting and reads like any other mystery or thriller. on the whole it is enjoyable and entertaining. that being said, i do have some negative criticism.
first, the ending. this is an arguable point, and ultimately a question of taste, but i felt that the author had set up the climax to end in a completely different (and i think much more satisfying and less feel good) way. if i were writing the screenplay, i would most definitely insert MY ending because it would be awesome. im trying to make this point without spoiling anything or giving to much away, so forgive my vagueness and take my word for it. or dont, and go read the book yourself.
next, there are a lot of passages that are very, shall we say, "high thinking" descriptions about the shark and the conceptual ocean. for example, the shark is made of guilt and shame and fears, etc. although these passages serve their purpose in explaining this rather complex idea and help the reader with the necessary verisimilitude required for this book, its as if the book cant decide if its supposed to be an abstract way of looking at otherwise intangible ideas or if it is just using this method as a platform from which to launch an otherwise ordinary piece of genre fiction. or both. it is as if the author had this great idea (sea of ideas, sharks made of negative concepts) but felt like doing something MORE with it (writing a novel about a guy trying to hunt the shark). because of this confusion, it made the book seem like it was having an identity crisis.
ANYWAY that being said, there were some very memorable passages, especially towards the end when they are going through a labyrinth made entirely of paper. and the story was interesting and entertaining enough to put the above criticisms aside and just enjoy it.

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