The Raw Shark Texts

While on its surface Steven Hall’s The Raw Shark Texts appears only to be a creative yet unoriginal amnesia tale, it is a deep, mostly compelling story that exists somewhere between fiction, sci-fi and English textbook. Eric Sanderson awakes one morning, unfamiliar with his surroundings and thoughts, finding a letter addressed to him from The First Eric Sanderson. The protagonist follows a trail of clues and develops alliances, learning that his amnesia results from more than simply an arbitrary, unfortunate condition. Hall’s imagery leaves the reader with few questions regarding the book’s setting and Sanderson’s thoughts, yet the story’s ultimate purpose seems somewhat muddled. Is he meant to rediscover his old self, stop the terror that’s ceaselessly hunting him, or defeat a bad guy apparently oblivious to and unconcerned with Sanderson’s pursuit? Hall’s precedent of creative, thoughtful storytelling leads the reader to expect a similarly imaginative, ingenious conclusion. However, the ending feels hurried and vacant—at one point becoming a retelling of Jaws, complete with overzealous captain and exploding fish—and lacks the same consideration Hall put into the first three quarters of the book.