J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst. L, B/Mulholland, $35 (470p) ISBN 978-0-316-20164-3

Fans of Abrams’s TV series Lost will delight in this multilayered and complex novel, coauthored with Dorst (Alive in Necropolis), which comes in a highly unusual package. A sealed slipcase holds a “library copy” of V.M. Straka’s 1949 book, Ship of Theseus, a title that calls to mind Plutarch’s famous paradox, which asks whether a ship that has had all its parts replaced is really the same ship. Virtually every artificially browned page in the book contains the marginal notes of students Jen and Eric, who share details of their lives and remark on the text (the notes are in different colors, allowing readers to distinguish between the authors). Their annotations and questions punctuate Straka’s story of a man known only as S., who’s been shanghaied and has lost his memory; footnotes lead the reader down more and more rabbit holes, as do multiple loose inserts such as photos, memos, postcards, and letters. For those in our online age able to accept the notion of a chat carried out by handwritten exchanges in a printed book, the Talmudic commentary will fascinate, even as clues are dropped early on that the resolution may be ambiguous. This is a must-read for literary puzzle fans, even for those unfamiliar with Abrams’s TV and film work. Agent: Jay Mandel, William Morris Endeavor. (Oct.)