Rated Reads

The End of Mr. Y

by Scarlett Thomas

Rated: DIRT

Ariel writes a monthly column for a magazine and is working on a doctorate, and her interests have led her to an obscure writer named Thomas Lumas. She’s enjoyed his stories but would give anything to find a copy of The End of Mr. Y, the writer’s “last and most mysterious work,” which is supposedly cursed and impossible to find. But one day, she somehow manages to get a copy in a small bookstore near her university.

She dives in to the story, where Mr. Y takes a potion and is able to travel through the Troposphere, a strange alternate dimension, and enter someone else’s mind, and she learns it may be possible for her to do the same thing.

Readers of Thomas’ book read pertinent portions of Lumas’ book along with Ariel, and then they travel along with her through her forays into the Troposphere.

The book is a strange ride, indeed: “trippy” at times and at others philosophical. Ariel is fascinated by thought experiments and quantum physics, though she’s not a scientist. Readers learn about these things as she discusses them with others in the story.

The topics are fascinating, if they’re up your alley, which they were for me. Unfortunately, I just had to stop halfway through the book because it just got far too vulgar for me to continue. I’d be curious to see what the writer does with the rest of the novel, but I had no desire at all to wade through the very crude content.

Rated: DIRT. The half I read had dozens of uses of strong language and a number of scenes of casual sex, some somewhat detailed and others not. There are a lot of vulgar sexual references. The last straw for me was a scene where the main character gets into the mind of a neighbor who’s been in a homosexual relationship and reflects for several pages in great and crude detail about sex with the other man and details a brief and ugly sexual encounter with a stranger in a restroom.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for about 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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  • The End of Mr. Y
  • by Scarlett Thomas
  • Rated: DIRT
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Reviewer: