[This is the sixth installment in a series. The whole series can be found here.]
They key to a good book is that it needs to keep you hooked, and S. certainly remains true to this, as does the sub-book within it – Ship of Theseus – which goes from the mystical to the action-packed to the outright bizarre. There’s a little bit of everything to keep you interested. What’s also interesting is that the book Ship of Theseus, being Straka’s last book, features numerous references to his other books, all clearly cited by the translator as well as pointed out by the two readers – Jennifer and Eric.
As chapter five progresses, it’s revealed that the likelihood of Jen actually graduating appears to be more and more remote, as she does worse in her classes, the book and Eric clearly distracting her, absorbing her life to the point where she doesn’t seem to really care, even though Eric continues to point this out to her. Much like the character S in Ship of Theseus, Jen is also adrift in this story. (See what I did there.)
A problem that does start to develop with S. from the reader’s perspective is all the cool handouts and media that are part of the book are not always clear and obvious with their intention and/or meaning. Sometimes there will be a reference in the story, or the characters reading the book will mention or point it out in some way. Other times there’s nothing and the reader is left feeling a little confused why there’s a postcard from someone and what bearing it has on the book. Perhaps there should’ve been some sort of separate handout listing and giving a brief explanation on the inserts. I know it would’ve detracted from the overall effect of the project, but it risks losing the reader a little, which one should really avoid.
It’s revealed that the translator for Ship of Theseus is working on a code with the footnotes, which Eric and Jen deduce and discuss, as well as the apparent fact that the translator was working on this code for years. It’s the start of what will turn out to be a complete hidden communication between the translator and the author, a most unusual relationship.
The abundance of strange “S”s found around the world continues, and is discussed a little in the context of the story with Straka saying he was unaware of this, even though it seems pretty prevalent both in Straka’s life, Jen’s and Eric’s lives, and even in the story of Ship of Theseus, adding to the overall weirdness of the book.
At the end of the fifth chapter of Ship of Theseus there is a basic return to how the story originally started off with S on the ship with some unusual characters, and now he’s back even though things are different and yet still the same.