Laurie's Reviews > Our Tragic Universe

Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas
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's review
Jan 15, 2011

it was amazing
Read in January, 2011

“Our Tragic Universe” is a novel with very little plot, and yet I found myself deeply involved in it. The characters aren’t heroes or exceptional; while they have some deep discussions at times they face the same problems others do- mostly relationship problems- and react to them in the same ways that the average person does. I don’t know if the book engaged me so much in spite of this or because of this.

The protagonist, Meg Carpenter, is living the typical free lancers life- always broke, working at several jobs- scifi novels, ghostwriting YA novels and doing book reviews, not having time to work on her ‘serious’ novel (which she starts and deletes constantly), living in a horrid house with a horrid boyfriend- a boyfriend who is one of the most annoying characters in fiction. When she reads a book- she thinks it’s for review but it turns out someone left it at her house- it gets her thinking about metaphysics, magic, the end of the universe and living forever. When her best friend, Libby, suggests that Meg put her desires out to the universe things start changing rapidly for Meg.

Meg’s life improves drastically; is the universe doing it for her or is it synchronicity? The characters are all woven together tightly. Unlikely things happen that are never explained- a poltergeist and a magician in Meg’s childhood, a Beast roving the area, Tarot readings that are uncannily accurate, an object washes up on the beach at Meg’s feet that turns out to be meaningful for the man she may love. All of these possibly magical things fit into the everyday lives of her set. There is no epic magic, no wizarding school, no battle with demons. Her and her friends mundane lives mesh with the possibly supernatural like the newly designed labyrinth- the opening of which ends the book- weaves in and out of itself. Thomas gives us no answers, just possibilities.

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