Review: The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas

The End of Mr Y by Scarlett ThomasPublisher: Mariner Books (October 2, 2006)
Paperback: 402 pages
Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

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.


Let me preface with: I have been in a reading slump. The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas is a recommendation I received from my manager at BN. And boy, did it work.

This is the only book I can think of that I’ve ever deliberately read slowly. The main character, Ariel Manto, is a girl who is trying to get a PhD on thought experiments. So throughout the book, the reader is skillfully given philosophical and/or scientific passages that really make you think. In wanting to understand, I took the time to read and re-read passages. (Though, of course, it doesn’t hurt that Thomas’s writing style effortlessly drew me in as a reader.)

The main focus of Ariel’s PhD is Thomas E. Lumas and thought experiments of his time period. One of Lumas’s most obscure books is The End of Mr. Y, which is rumoured to be cursed as everyone who has read the book has died/gone missing. By chance, Ariel one day manages to locate a copy of the book. Even with what she knows of the book’s dubious history, she can’t pass up the chance to read it.

Ariel is a brilliant character. She hasn’t had the easiest life, but that doesn’t stop her search for knowledge.

“There’s always another level that we just don’t know. The Scientists have it down to the quarks and electrons, and the various weird variations of them that come down in cosmic rays and so on, but they don’t know if that’s it, if they have found indivisible matter – what the Greeks called atomos. It could even be that there’s infinite divisibility. And there are still these big questions that no one can solve: What came before the beginning and what will happen after the end. The fact that these big questions still exist is exciting. No one really knows anything very important – and there’s still such a lot to know.” (Pg. 226)

After Ariel reads the book, events unfold quickly. This was a pleasure to read as someone who enjoys that bit of supernatural, that hint of romance, and the philosophical ideas and thought experiments that got me thinking. Considering the language and some of the acts that occur in the book, this is definitely an adult fiction novel, though an argument can be made for the mature teen readers out there. This book is for people who are looking for a wild ride and the thoughtful engagement of the mind.


Find Scarlett Thomas:

Website | Goodreads | Twitter

Purchase the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

Author: Kim

Everything can be made better with a good book or some relaxing knits. 😀 Find me on IG @kimberlyh12 or on Twitter @enervated.

0 Replies to “Review: The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas”

  1. Oh Kim, I like the sound of this and wahoo for ending a reading slump. Sometimes reading slowly and just absorbing the world is just what it takes. Another book to try would be Written in Red.

    1. Yes! Finding a good book is like getting that first jolt of caffeine in the morning, it gets you going and reading more books. I love it. 🙂

      The Anne Bishop book? It’s been on my list forever, but I really should read it. 🙂 Thanks for the recommendation.

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