In the wake of her two most recent books, PopCo and The End of Mr. Y author Scarlett Thomas is attaining “best author you may not have heard of” status among many lit bloggers. PopCo focused on Alice Butler, granddaughter of two cryptologists and “a subversively smart girl in our commercial-soaked world who grows from recluse orphan to burgeoning vigilante, buttressed by mystery, codes, math and the sense her grandparents gave her that she could change the world.” The story includes a treasure hunt that reaches far into the past as well as revelations gained at a modern corporate “Thought Camp” where Alice and her fellow employees are charged with designing toys that have no intrinsic value but will be marketed as invaluable to today’s teenage girls. PopCo allowed Thomas to explore her interest in things as varied as pirates and vegetarianism while sending a stark message about corporate control versus personal freedom.
She followed up PopCo with the genre busting The End of Mr. Y a book with another smart and endlessly curious heroine. Ariel Manto finds a long lost book that seems to hold both a curse and a secret doorway into an alternate dimension. This time the central plot questions involve faith and science, good and evil (especially as it pertains to mice) and the very nature of life and death. With Mr. Y, Thomas showed again her utter fearlessness when it comes to attacking the big subjects and her determination to bring philosophical discussions into the realm of highly readable and entertaining literature.