So. I know I’m late. I finally got around to reading The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall, and if I’m writing about it on my blog, you should understand that means something. The book takes bites from The Matrix, Memento and Jaws. The DaVinci Code should probably be thrown in there as well, except that Hall doesn’t telegraph his passes (as my high school basketball coach used to tell me I did with mine), and he certainly doesn’t hold your hand throughout the plot.
Where to start?
First off, the reason I bought it was because I like novels that have visual thought somehow. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, The Thin Place by Kathryn Davis and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon come to mind. I’m a graphic artist; what can I say? These novels, however, didn’t affect me like TRST.
Secondly, the novel is written in such a way that different readers can come to different conclusions. I know, I know. How is that possible? My best possible answer is that it just is. Hall, who is British, meant it to be that way, and he basically says so in the title. With a British accent, “The Raw Shark Texts” sounds an awful lot like “The Rorschach Tests.”
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The official Web site, www.rawsharktexts.com, has many discussions on what readers believe is going on. Look under the “Unspace Exploration Committee” link, and see for yourself. I would suggest not allowing yourself any spoilers (the “Crypto-Forensics” link) before you have a chance to read the book, but after you’ve finished, you’ll probably be heading there for answers.
But guess what? There aren’t any. And Mr. Hall is tight-lipped, as well he should be.
I also love how this book is still developing. New things are coming out in new editions, games have been played online about it and Hall has even developed Raw Shark Texts “negatives” (From the site: “For each chapter in The Raw Shark Texts there is, or will be, an un-chapter, a negative. If you look carefully at the novel you might be able to figure out why these un-chapters [are] called negatives.”).
Please read the book. Then get back here and tell me what’s going on.