Review: The Raw Shark Texts – Steven Hall.

Eric Sanderson wakes up in a house one day with no idea who or where he is. Dr Randle tells him that he’s suffered another episode of memory loss, a symptom of his dissociative disorder, which seems to have been triggered by the death of his girlfriend Clio when on holiday together.

But that’s only part of the story. The simple part, if you will, for the one that unravels in The Raw Shark Texts is as complex as any story you’ll ever read, unlike any other, and more than likely going to have you scratching your aching, pondering head by the end.

Eric receives regular letters from “the first Eric Sanderson” explaining not only what the real problem is, but how to cope and survive. He embarks on a quest to recover the truth and overcome the Ludovician that plagues his life.

Said to be a novel about the magnitude of love and the devastating effect of losing that love, this book is basically the most confusing thing you’ll ever read. Seriously. At no point is there a real inclination as to how it’s going to end other than a very vague sense.

The issue is this is not a book for the light reader. Want to put your feet up and relax? This is not the book. It will make you frown from thought, try to work out the complexities and clues hidden throughout. The characters are interesting, the writing incredibly well crafted and the sheer ambition of it rather astounding. But it’s quite drawn out at times, and since it’s a thinker of a book, you need to remain engaged to take it all in.

RawShark_0009_600sBut here’s the best part: the typography. Oh my god, it’s so well laid out. I applaud whoever put this book together because I was pretty much obsessed with all the typographical twists that I kept showing whoever I was with at the time, regardless of them knowing what I was reading.

Such an interesting and different book, but if you want to read something where you feel like you have a comprehensive understanding by the end of it, save this for another time. You need to really delve into the book to appreciate it. The Raw Shark Texts is dubbed a psychological thriller, but I’d just call it a plain mindfuck (good mindfuck, interesting mindfuck). Honestly still can’t get my head around exactly what I just read, but it’s unlike anything else I’ve come across. (AND THAT TYPOGRAPHY!)

Canongate Books

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