J.J. Abrams highly anticipated book triumphs through production values, but falls down over plot.

S is a bold creative project, conceived by Lost creator J.J. Abrams and written by Doug Dorst (Alive in Necropolis).

The story is told through a stolen library book, Ship of Theseus, authored by reclusive author V.M. Straka and translated by F.X. Caldeira. In the margins of the book, disgraced graduate student Eric attempts to solve the mystery of Straka’s real identity, and in doing so, beat his old academic mentor to the discovery of a lifetime.

Jen, a restless college senior, stumbles upon the book, and begins exchanging notes with Eric as they attempt to solve the mystery of Straka and Caldeira’s identities, and come to terms with their own struggles along the way.

The production value of the collection is incredibly high – it can really only be described as absolutely stunning. The hardcover has been cleverly packaged as the worn library book, with every page coloured to mimic its distressed nature. The book itself gives no hint that it is actually a work of fiction by Abrams and Dorst; only the box it comes in bears the authors’ names.

Between the pages of the book, readers will find photographs, postcards, letters, and even a graffitied napkin, all of which look and feel just like the real thing. The notes from Jen and Eric that feature throughout the novel are very clearly handwritten, and the pictures are drawn in – there is no cliched handwriting font here.

Yet the highly constructed nature of S also proves to be one of its greatest weaknesses. The additional materials make it difficult to physically read the book without them becoming dislodged. This would not pose such a problem if the various materials were not often directly linked to the notes on the adjacent pages.

The handwritten notes also ensure that the reading experience is more complicated than normal. Inevitably, the interactions between Jen and Eric are far more engaging that the text of Ship of Theseus, and it is difficult not to skip through simply to read their storyline.

The most disappointing aspect of S is that the very story that consumes the two would-be scholars is not all that engaging. Perhaps Dorst’s intent was for this story to move slowly and steadily, merely to provide a jumping off point for Jen and Eric. If this was this goal, Dorst has succeeded masterfully, yet the somewhat dull storyline does make it difficult to accept why so many people would be so concerned with Straka’s book. It also makes it difficult for readers of S to stay engaged with the multiple layers.

No fault can be found in the writing, and Jen and Eric’s voices are particularly enjoyable to read, as is the slow exploration of their own personal problems. The changes in their pen colours are used effectively to give the reader some indication of where in their relationship they are. While their correspondence does not demonstrate a linear progression of their relationship (they have obviously gone through the book multiple times, adding notes as they do), their interactions are not as difficult to follow as they initially appear.

S is far from perfect, but is worth reading for the experience alone. The book offers something entirely unique, and Abrams’ involvement may spark the increase in this type of product. Its strength lies in its production values, and while it is at times too slow or overly complicated, it offers readers a damn good first attempt at a completely immersive, multifaceted reading experience.

S by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst is available now through Mulholland Books and Allen & Unwin.

Images: Amazon

When it doubt, look to Harry Potter. At least, that’s what Marvel and Sony are planning for the latest Spider-Man reboot.

When Tom Holland showed up in Captain America: Civil War as Spider-Man, fans were obviously hesitant to throw too much weight behind his version of Peter Parker. The webslinger had been seen at the forefront of a blockbuster movie twice in the past couple decades, and even the biggest Spidey fans were wary of yet another incarnation.

But Holland swung himself right into our hearts with his charm and enthusiasm, both on screen and off. The cast took him under their wings and fans were soon to follow. So, when it was announced that he’d be starring in another solo Spider-Man film, titled Homecoming, the response was optimistic.

There are a lot of things Marvel and Sony are doing differently for Homecoming, not least of which is actually working together. Peter is also much younger than we’ve seen him in the past, and his story will focus as much on his time in school as his time fighting bad guys.

spider-man homecoming logo

In fact, the school year may even help structure Homecoming and subsequent Spider-Man solo films. Speaking to Collider, Kevin Feige even said they may take a leaf out of Harry Potter’s book:

“Should we be able to make more after [Homecoming]? Sure. This is sophomore year, is the next one junior year? Is the next one senior year? Is there a summer break between each of those? I don’t know what, but it was sort of how do we do a journey for Peter not dissimilar for what the students of Hogwarts would go through each of their years, which was one of the early ideas we had for the movies.”

This structure allows for a consistent progression of time for both the characters and the world. We’ll say goodbye to Peter at the end of the school year, but welcome him back again at the beginning of the next. It allows for changes to take place over the summer, for new threats to materialize, and for the story to stretch its legs and develop over the course of nine months, rather than a few short days.

But first we have to see if Spider-Man: Homecoming will be the hit both Marvel and Sony are hoping it’ll be.

How are you feeling about the current developments regarding ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’?

Netflix has passed on picking up Agent Carter for a third season, and now they’re explaining why.

The cancellation of Agent Carter sent shock waves through the Marvel fandom. We get so few female-led properties in the superhero world, and Peggy was unapologetically kickass on every level. When ABC didn’t renew the show for another season, fans immediately started pitching to Netflix, hoping they would give the S.H.I.E.L.D. founder a new life.

Alas, it wasn’t to be so. In an interview with EW, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos explains why they decided to pass on the opportunity.

The first reason was because they’re looking for “truly original brands to own.” Netflix, as you probably know, already has a pretty clear corner on that market with Daredevil and Jessica Jones, both of which have been wildly popular, as well as their upcoming series Luke Cage and Iron Fist, all four of which will eventually merge into an Avengers-esque crossover series called Defenders. Plus, the Punisher is getting his own series, too.

ABC had already owned and put out two season of Agent Carter, which means, creatively, Netflix couldn’t take over the show and make it their own. They would have to honor what came before and make sure it had the same look and feel. Considering how wildly popular their original series have been (for reference, check out the current buzz about Stranger Things), it’s understandable that they’d rather focus on something they can build from the ground up.

The second reason why Netflix passed on Agent Carter is a bit more technical in that the streaming service likes to release its original content globally, something that would be difficult, if not impossible, due to Agent Carter’s current international restrictions. As Sarandos says, passing up on Agent Carter was “a business decision more than a creative one.”

But neither of those reasons make the situation any better for fans of the character and her solo show. While Netflix would’ve been an ideal place to watch Peggy’s next great adventure, we’ll have to hope the showrunners and Hayley Atwell can swing something else instead.

Are you disappointed Netflix isn’t picking up ‘Agent Carter’?

New Snapchat teasers for AHS season 6 reveal a bit more about the cryptic installment. Well, sort of.

Blink and you’ll miss the new season 6 teasers for AHS. Coming to FX September 14, the hit anthology has gone well out of its way to keep the buzz surrounding the series almost non-existent.

New teasers from Snapchat brought about clues regarding the location, another bit of support for Ryan Murphy’s teaser that more children will be involved, and, of course, a creepy staircase. You can watch the compiled clips below thanks to the magic of Tumblr.


We have a farm house! A creepy mobile with an even creepier hand! And some people grabbing at ankles from under a stairwell! Where would a horror show be without those? (I’ll be honest I jumped at the hand in the crib. I’m not immune to the horror that AHS is capable of achieving!)

So, what can we make of all this? Not much, but we are going to try.

In the last teaser, released at the FX Exhibition at Comic Con, we were able to see a steel building within which fans got to immerse themselves in the AHS Fearless VR teaser that placed them on a stretcher and wheeled them through a creepy lab filled with fetuses in jars. All that was reminiscent of past seasons where doctor’s experiments led to some rather terrifying results. Perhaps this is the thread that ties the entire series together.

Keeping that idea rolling, we now have a greenish monster hand taking a knife from a child’s crib. I’m hoping that the “monster” figure only appears in teaser form, much like some of the past years where the content in the trailers never appeared on screen.


The most impressive and highly intriguing trailer is the farm house with the smoke creating the mysterious question mark/number six that has come to define the season thus far. Farm houses are terrifying enough, if that is what the setting is meant to signify, but mix in a basement of horrors and you have my attention, AHS.

Personally, I am loving the slow burn of information for season 6. In the past, casting announcements dominated the news cycle and 13 to 14 teasers per season was overkill. Keeping the audience at arms length is doing a great deal more to subvert expectations, which the show needs after two, arguably three, lack luster seasons.

AHS season 6 premieres Wednesday, September 14 at 10:00 p.m. ET on FX.