Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Raw Shark Texts Review

Some of the members at one of the websites I frequent, the gaming community EvilAvatar.com, have started a book club at goodreads.com. Having the books selected by a group who has similar interests makes the selection process easier. Additionally, I have already read two books that I would not normally have even known about and am reading a third. The first was the Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, which was a book that I would never have picked up on my own, just due to the feminine nature of the cover, but was pleased with the story. I started reading another that was suggested but wasn't a book chosen to be the book for the month, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, which is, again, a very good read. However, the book for the month was selected and I decided to interrupt my previous choice to join in on the reading of the Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall, and I was not disappointed.

Like the Time Traveler's Wife, I was able to get through this book quickly, in only one evening of reading. The story is about a man who doesn't remember anything: where he is, how he got there, what his name is, his past, his friends -- all this information is missing. He soon discovers that he has a disorder known as a "dissociative condition". It is an interesting mystery where the hero, Eric, tries to figure out what has happened to him.

It seems like there are several ways to look at this book. The first is the logical, what-could-happen-in-the-real-world possibility. From this point of view, it is clear that he has a severe disorder that eventually leads to his demise. The other way to look at this is the anything-is-possible, we-can't-assume-a-logical-world-in-books view. In this case, we can assume that everything that Eric reports is actual fact: the problems he describes are real and to blame for his memory loss. Or, there is the take a bit of both approach, where his memory loss comes from his suspected source, but some parts of his journey/disorder are not what they seem to be to Eric.

Without revealing spoilers, it is difficult to talk about this book. It is thought provoking and interesting enough where I would consider going back and reading through it again before returning it to the library to analyze it further. Some of the elements of the book are overlooked, intentionally or otherwise, and that can be a little frustrating, but that it keeps me thinking about it, and enjoying my thoughts, is enough to overlook any frustrations. I give it a four out of five stars.

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