Scarlett Thomas: Our Tragic Universe

I am a fan of Scarlett Thomas. I loved The End of Mr. Y (multiverse theory) and Pop Co. (codes and things). The characters, depressed but thoughtful, always appeal to me, and I love the overarching theories explored in each book. So, I have had her new book, Our Tragic Universe, on my wish list for quite some time.


I searched around for a review that said it just right...and I came across this quote from a New York Times review: "I wanted to root for this novel and its brain-bending, occasionally contradictory signifiers; I also found myself yearning for a way in."

I totally agree.

I wasn't thrilled with the new novel. I didn't hate it. I didn't really even dislike it. But it isn't something that I will remember fondly. Basically, the book is a novel about a novelist writing about how hard it is to write a novel. This in itself is fine. Thrown in there are bits and pieces of ideas about New Age theory, magic, fairies, etc...but it never takes off as a theme in the same way that code breaking dominates Pop Co. or that multiverse theory dominates The End of Mr. Y.

Worst of all? I couldn't care less for Meg (the protagonist) by the end of the novel. It took me a while to develop a relationship with her to begin with and though I was liking her more by mid-novel, the energy just left the prose and it was as if she just faded away. Now, I get that this is all part of the metafiction aims of the book. But, I think that so much more should have been done. When I finished The End of Mr. Y, I thought about it for days. I still carry images from that novel with me (as I do with all novels that I enjoy). But this one? Eh. I just put it on my "read" shelf and am not thinking of it at all (at least, I won't after I write this review).

So, I can't really recommend this novel. I do recommend her other books (they can be complicated but I really enjoyed them...I am not a math person at all and these books have a lot to do with math and science). So, go out and read The End of Mr. Y. If you like it, read Pop Co. But, unless you are just totally hooked (and you may be, like I was), don't feel like you have to buy Our Tragic Universe. Try to get it at the library.


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