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The Raw Shark Texts

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  18,172 ratings  ·  1,862 reviews
Eric Sanderson wakes up in a house one day with no idea who or where he is. A note instructs him to see a Dr. Randle immediately, who informs him that he is undergoing yet another episode of acute memory loss that is a symptom of his severe dissociative disorder. Eric's been in Dr. Randle's care for two years -- since the tragic death of his great love, Clio, while the two ...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 427 pages
Published April 10th 2007 by Canongate Us (first published January 1st 2007)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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mark monday

You are a book, The Raw Shark Texts. You are an unstable narrative. You are a story of loss and love and memory, of a broken heart and a broken mind. You are a mystery; you are a postmodern text; you are a Burroughs, with a certain sort of sunny spotless mind. You are a first novel, complete with a first novel's typical weaknesses: an intermittent stridency and repetitiousness that is occasionally tedious, a tendency towards wanting to amaze the audience with your brilliance, characters and d
Jun 01, 2008 rated it did not like it
A brief behind-the-scenes recap of "The Raw Shark Texts":

Steven Hall is inspired. Writes a brilliant one hundred pages of an unfinished novel. The first hundred pages of 'The Raw Shark Texts' are truly a great read, hinting at something avant-garde, something page-turning in the finest sense of the term. We're all clicking off the rusty old disbelief mechanisms because 'The Raw Shark Texts' is putting it all together. OK, sure, it is yet another "piece-my-life-back-together-after-what-would-see
Rick Monkey
May 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
You know what I like?

This whole genre of stuffy British dudes who find themselves unwillingly going on adventures and discovering that there's more to them than just being pasty and flustered.

And, yeah, it's a genre. There's TONS of books with that same damn plot. Thing is, they're often very entertaining.

They're also usually played for laughs. Which is not the case in The Raw Shark Texts. Yes, the protagonist eventually finds himself drawn into a world where the old rules don't apply. Yes, he h
Brittni Kristine
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars, favorites
I can see why others may not have found this to be a fantastic read, and it wasn’t until maybe the last 20 pages that it moved up from 4 to 5 stars for me. Ultimately, I found it to be completely and utterly beautiful. I’ve never read anything like it and doubt I ever will again. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the imagery of a tunnel/maze completely made of pages from books, and the claustrophobic feeling of crawling through them.

This book is a mystery and an adventure and a love letter, and I
Aug 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pub-2007
(There might be very minor spoilers here but I doubt they will make any sense to you if you haven't read the book, so read on, unles you are uber-paranoid about spoilers)

“The Raw Shark Texts”. It’s supposed to be a literary psychological thriller where Jorge Luis Borges meets Danielewski meets Matrix meets Fight Club meets Jaws. I thought: Oh dear. Steve, I hope you know what you are running up against and I hope your game is tight.

The book starts with the main character waking up on the floor n
Dec 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: general-novels
A bit oversold, but certainly creative at times with a sprinkling of novel ideas which for me, almost worked; but not quite.
At heart this is a simple love story, which I didn't mind as I quite like simple love stories, being an old romantic at heart. That the love story was between a man whose memories had been eaten by a conceptual shark (see later) and a woman who he may have loved in his pre memory loss existence who is now dead (but not a ghost - nothing supernatural here) matters not a jot.
Jun 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For sheer ballsy creativity The Raw Shark Texts is an incendiary word bomb of conceptual fish, mad world hungry pseudo-immortals, movie geekdom, Greek tragedy and cats with mundane names.

To say there is something lacking in Steven Hall's first novel seems unfair and trite, but I can't shake the feeling that something in Eric Sanderson's relationship with Clio/Scout felt too forced and way too indoctrinated by current gender attitudes. If that was by design I can't imagine what the design was; if
Feb 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone who said that House of Leaves changed their world view
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: random goodreads reviews
Duh Dum.
Duh Dum.
Dum dum dum dum dum dum DUM!!!!!

Ok that was a poor attempt to mimic the Jaws theme tune in text format, but hey, it's not that easy.

On Animosity Island, everyone is looking forward to the summer season. The picket fences are suitably white, the sky is picture-postcard blue and the beaches of fine yellow sand are ready to receive the beach towels and inflatable toys of hundreds of British holiday makers. For Chief Brady, head of the Animosity Island police department, there is one
Arthur Graham
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Personally, I wouldn't have ended it on such a sappy note, and OF COURSE he's reading Paul Auster in that scene towards the end, but this was a pretty compelling and inventive read overall, even if some of it felt a bit gimmicky at points. One could only hope for such generous criticism of their first novel, so that's why I'm giving credit where credit due. Four out of five stars. ...more
Jan 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2009
The Raw Shark Texts was released back in 2007 by first time U.K. author, Steven Hall. In some circles, it’s been referred to as some bizarre cross between Jaws and The Matrix with perhaps a little Da Vinci Code thrown in there for good measure. It follows the story of Eric Saunderson who awakes on his bedroom floor without any memories. While the man retains his basic motor functions, he remembers nothing resembling emotions or sense of identity. Shortly upon awaking, Eric finds a note left by t ...more
MJ Nicholls
Hall’s conceptual sharks are clever, baffling and original. His typographical quirks are deployed to interesting and, in one infamous instance, hilariously terrifying effect. Howevs, the writing suffers from an overuse of dramatic verbs, a overly stylised relationship between the hero/heroine (regardless of any ironic intentions), moments of prolonged confusion and plot dullness, and melodrama. Still, it shows a clear love of language, words and books, so I can overlook the long sloggy parts.
Jul 12, 2007 rated it did not like it
I give up. I'm nearly halfway through the book and I'm putting it down. Maybe, at another time, I'll pick it up again and feel differently but the action/adventure vibe just isn't sitting with me at all. It's like reading The Celestine Prophecy -which I did many, many moons ago- only without the big morality question leading you through to the end. Or, it's like reading Haruki Murakami without his talent for subtle storytelling. Or -sorry to go overboard on this- it's like reading House of Leave ...more
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I tried explaining the plot of this book to someone and I sounded like a crazy person. Not because it’s overly-complex (it’s just the right amount of complex, actually) but because it’s so strange and original and realized, every little detail seemed important. The Raw Shark Texts succeeds on all levels. I’d give it 6 stars if I could.
Holy. Crap.

I picked up The Raw Shark Texts this past weekend - not sure if I wanted to tackle something this long since I'm still trying to catch up to a good "38 in '08" pace - and I swear it was like disappearing off the face of the earth for two days. I can't remember the last time I was so absorbed in a book that I opted to postpone plans to stay home and do nothing but read, and despite my copy's 448 pages, I devoured the book in less than 24 hours - pun intended.

Without giving away more th
Sep 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
Ugh. I struck out with this one.

This was something I'd been wanting to read for awhile. It's looked super enticing on my bookshelf and when I finally had it in my hands I was brimming with excitement. I had read the first couple pages awhile back and knew that this was the kind of book that grabbed you from the get go.

And welp! That's about the only time it grabbed me, it grabbed me then and let me go about 75 pages in. Maybe I'm just not smart enough...but the whole concept of "conceptual" shar
Aug 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Invisibles fans, postmodern nerds, free thinkers
Shelves: slipstream
Mix _A Clockwork Orange_, _VALIS_, and _House of Leaves_ in a blender, and you would get something like this book. It combines a number of my favorite things, not the least of which is the unreliable narrator - and as an aside to some reviewers, if you think 'Memento' did it first, you really ought to read more and do some research. I was a little wary of the kind of 'fontplay' such as in Danielewski's book, but when Hall used it, he used it purposefully and to good effect.

Note to self: 'fontpla
Sep 15, 2013 rated it did not like it
Area woman wildly unimpressed with White Man™ pretentious pseudo-intellectual masturbatory fantasy, complete with the Struggle of being a Man who doesn't know his Place in the world and manic pixie dream conceptual girl. ...more
May 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
3/29/11 update:
I want to read it again. I also want Hall to write another book. Come on Steve!!

8/19/09 Update:
I found a copy of the UK version of this book in a used book store the other day and it prompted me to re-read it.
This book is so brilliant it's unbelievable. Reading it a second time brought out, in my mind anyway, what is really going on with this book. I'm truly amazed at Hall's performance here.


i was walking through b
the kenosha kid
Aug 14, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Writing this review feels bad. I'm sure Steven Hall worked lovingly on his first book. Judging by his chirpy author picture, he looks like a cool guy, and I hope he lives a long happy life and writes many great bestsellers and gets to buy a flying yacht where the party never ends.

That being said, The Raw Shark Texts is terrible. It feels like a badly mixed porridge of everything the author thought was AWESOME. Let's see – the movie Jaws? AWESOME. Memento? AWESOME. House of Leaves? AWESOME. Aband
Nov 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
I couldn't resist picking up this book, with a lurking shark made completely out of text on the first page. I'm a big believer of judging books by covers, and once again I am proven right. The Raw Shark Texts is like several books you've read, and yet is completely different. It plays with the concept of words like "The Phantom Tollbooth," and its underground is vaguely similar to that of Gaiman's "Neverwhere." The plot starts out as "Memento," morphs into "The Matrix" and ends with "Jaws." Conf ...more
May 29, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, school-stuff
Dear Book,

You're critically acclaimed and a national best seller.

You're apparently the bastard child of all the great writers and movies.

You think you're clever.

The fact of the matter is, if you weren't a required text for my class, I would have dropped your paperback ass in the recycling bin ages ago.

I'm so glad we're done now and I never have to see you again.

Apr 27, 2007 rated it liked it
Hmm. Well. It certainly wasn't bad.

One problem with reading advanced reader's editions is that they lay out the marketing plans for you right on the inside cover, so I knew before I even started that this book has a 150,000 initial print run, that the movie rights have already been auctioned, that a website and a viral marketing campaign (puke) are in the works, etc. Soooo, hype hype hype, which always makes me worried.

All the same, like everyone says, cross House of Leaves with Memento an
Kira Simion
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 swimmingly entertained stars.

This is the first (or the only one I can remember ironically) book I've liked that someone told me to read from school. Maybe a Ludovician will wipe me memory and I'll forget it, maybe not. But I like it so far. A unique, entertaining, wild ride that needed a little more relationship development, but I liked it overall.
Mar 02, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bettie by: Hunger For Knowledge

Would you look at that, on the inside title page, a yellow post-it note saying
The bastard love-child
of The Matrix, Jaws and
The Da Vinci Code


Description: Eric Sanderson wakes up in a house one day with no idea who or where he is. A note instructs him to see a Dr. Randle immediately, who informs him that he is undergoing yet another episode of acute memory loss that is a symptom of his severe dissociative disorder. Eric's been in Dr. Randle's care for two years -- since the tragic dea
Bevan Audstone
Jun 06, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: No one.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Antti Lahtinen
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
In essence, the Raw Shark Texts is a book about grief, confusion and the related mental dissociation. The story makes up for a thrilling read, written in an original and exhilaratingly unpredictable narrative. The style is descriptive and rich in detail, oftentimes revealing more between the lines than what it seems at first.

The story revolves around overcoming the conceptual shark that represents the protagonist's thoughts and memories of his past. As such, it is fairly evident that Raw Sharks
Jan 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
original and interesting so far
Ryan Chapman
Sep 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I'd pair this with Remainder by Tom McCarthy: debut novels from the UK by men taking on conceptual literary frameworks. Their work isn't influenced by film so much as engaged by the medium itself. It's certainly not for everyone. In fact, I hated Remainder for the first few months after reading. But I recognize the book--and by extension this one as well--for what is: an avant-garde novel in the 21st century.

This book isn't as finely balanced as it could be, and many of the romantic scenes ar
Jason Pettus
Jun 22, 2007 rated it liked it
(Full review can be found at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [].)

Throughout history (or at least as far back as Gulliver's Travels), books that attempt to combine fantastical elements with the high-minded "literature" label have had a rough go at it, with most never truly ending up being one or the other; to cite just one example, William Burroughs' Naked Lunch can be described simultaneously as an autobiography, a cautionary tale about drugs, and a science-
Jul 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Donald by: Henrik
Shelves: 2008
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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okay, what the heck... 10 520 Jun 11, 2019 11:21AM  
Trying to fully understand the ending **Spoilers, very much so 9 271 Aug 27, 2018 01:42AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Please change cover 3 25 Oct 29, 2017 06:21AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Change cover 2 16 Jul 25, 2017 07:19AM  

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Steven Hall is the author of The Raw Shark Texts and one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists.


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