Late last night I finally finished going through and reading the margin notes in S. Overall, this experience was definitely completely new and unique for me. The extent of reading I have done with margin notes before this point has just been notes in my university textbooks, and those were few and never personal notes.
Blue and Black
The blue and black notes were the first round for the two characters writing to each other in the margins. Primarily, these notes are about Ship of Theseus and the mysteries surrounding its author (with discussions about the translator as well), although there are a few that deal with the personal aspects of the characters’ lives. There are some interesting tidbits in these margin notes, although primarily I found a number of these dry. I believe that it’s because Straka doesn’t exist in our world—If he did, I imagine that the mystery surrounding his identity as well as the dates associated with everything would have been much more interesting to me.
Orange and Green
The second round of notes, the ones in orange and green, got a little more interesting to me as the personal relationship between those writing to each other started to grow, and more of the events happening due to their research (I unfortunately, can’t be too specific because it would spoil things, but needless to say some events are not “safe”, so to speak) were cropping up. I see this set of notes as a big transition for the two characters in between the simply academic nature of the blue and black and the third set of notes.
Purple and Red
These notes were pretty decent, in my opinion. I found that they were easier and more interesting for me to read than the rest of the book had been, so I ended up reading them much faster than the rest. I enjoyed how the relationship between the two characters was progressing in this set of notes from the previous two, and their banter was quite good. There were a few moments in this set of notes’ that had me with a smile/smirk on my face, which is always a good sign.
Black and Black
There aren’t as many notes to this final set, although they are still there (primarily later in the book, which was appreciated). My big gripe with this though is that I really couldn’t tell where the notes left off. These were more like a continuation of the purple and red notes, so I didn’t really see a distinct need to change the colours, but nevertheless it was interesting to see the two characters adding in new thoughts to their previous notes.
Overall I think that S. was a decent novel, although for quite awhile I found myself forcing it. I may have given up at one point if I were the type of person to easily drop a book, but I always have an extremely hard time not finishing something. It’s not close to my favourite, but it is unique enough for me to recommend people to give it a shot if you enjoy reading. Really, the only difference for me is that a not-so-great book will simply take me quite a bit longer to read. That being said, after I got through the little “slump”, my interest in the book picked up and I flew through a large portion of the margin notes. This culminated in my favourite page (423). I will say this about that page though: if you can, DON’T read the notes until its time, if you are using the same strategy as me for reading S. It’s much better if you avoid it and then read it at the appropriate time. But, either way, that page will have you smiling like a lunatic.
The only thing that really left me wanting (and had no fix or redeeming moment) was that I have no idea where the notes left off with the last set. When did the characters decide to stop? How did things leave off? Were they successful in their research and the impending challenge that they faced through much of the notes? Where is their relationship exactly?
This was an interesting experience overall, and I hope that at least one of you is intrigued enough to give this book a shot. If you do, leave me a message letting me know what you think as you read!