WordPress 003 – Book Experience 001 – A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick (Spoilers)

Hi everyone.

Thank you very much for the likes and comments on my book haul in the previous post. :)

Here is my first “Book Experience” post, and maybe some explanation is needed first before I go into it. WARNING: There will be spoilers, more likely than not.

This is going to be different than the traditional “Book Review,” as I’m not really going to give a full summary of the book, talk about the author, or everything that goes into a regular book review. What I am going to give is basically what my experience was of the book and as much as I can remember about how I found out about it, what I felt while reading it, what stood out to me the most, and other things relevant to the book itself (and maybe some random things thrown in there too). I believe everyone’s experience of a particular book is unique, and it will be very interesting to see how another person experienced the book through his/her eyes. It can be an entirely different perspective because the other person might pick up something that you didn’t or one part of the book affected you more but the other person didn’t notice. I’d like to hear your own book experience, if you had read the book.

Anyway, without further ado, this is my book experience on A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick.


So, I first found out about this book from one of my penpals, Ken, who is a huge Philip K. Dick fan. At the time, I never even heard about Philip K. Dick, so like most people, I just Googled him and went to Wikipedia. I was surprised to learn that even though I didn’t know who he was, I actually watched quite a few movies that were adaptations of his works (namely Total Recall, Minority Report, and Paycheck, all of which I enjoyed). So, my reaction was, “Hey~ I didn’t know those movies were from books!” and I immediately wanted to read them.

I didn’t get the book right away, but I was able to get my hands on a graphic novel version of A Scanner Darkly (which I later would send to Ken as a gift). I recognized Keanu Reeves on the cover, and I thought it could be something to watch with my best friend. She liked it because of the art style and Robert Downey Jr. (<3), who was also in the movie. I think it was a good idea for me to watch the movie before I read the book because I think the story would have been difficult to follow otherwise. It’s not usually in the style that I read.

I know that is something book readers are not supposed to do ever, but I think both versions have their merits, and I got something out of both. For example, at the beginning of the movie, the entire scene with the guy and the bugs, it was really something just getting to see it. It reminded me of some of the things I learned in psychology class, especially having to live with such hallucinations (and the scariest thing that my professor said was… actually, I shouldn’t. I’m getting creeped out just thinking about it.).

Anyway, it was on a trip to Goodwill that I found a copy of A Scanner Darkly, which is pictured up there. I was so excited; I think I squeaked in the store or made some other embarrassing sound. I read through it rather quickly whenever I found the time, and I was reminded of the movie a lot, so I was able to follow the story much easier.

However, what surprised me as I was reading was that I kept having a difficult time remembering that Fred and Bob Arctor were both the same person. In the movie, it was obvious because Keanu Reeves was right there as Bob Arctor or in his scramble suit. In the novel, I needed to remind myself again and again that they were the same person because when you read two different names on the page, you would assume two different people.

I think this is why Chapter 13, when the psychologists were explaining his condition to him, created a much more powerful impact than in the movie for me. I love (love love) how they described it using mirrors and reflections, and it is perhaps my favorite part of the book. I had to stop for a moment and let that just sink in, and I can reflect on it. So good. Even though mirrors give me the creeps sometimes, I think mirrors, reflections, and the distortion of reality are all very fascinating.

So that is it for my first book experience. If you have your own book experience on A Scanner Darkly, I’d love to hear about it!

Thanks for reading. Until next time, take care! :)


4 thoughts on “WordPress 003 – Book Experience 001 – A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick (Spoilers)

  1. Tyler says:

    I haven’t read ‘A Scanner Darkly’, but I’ve read a couple other books by Philip K. Dick. One thing I always enjoy is how paranoid and hopeless the characters can be. In scifi there’s this big tendency for the protagonist to be clever, resourceful, and very independent. They seem like they can get through any situation. PKD’s characters always seem on the verge of a nervous collapse.

    ‘Flow, My Tears, The Policeman Said’ is a really good example of that. I almost felt just as lost as Jason Taverner.

    • Donna says:

      I’m slowly gathering a collection of his books, at least to try them out. I have to do some catch up reading on the other books that I have started first, and I can’t wait to finish one that I’m close to finishing (around 100 pages to go). Since I started up this blog, I have been sticking little post-it tabs on the places where I want to remember in the book.

      The ending of A Scanner Darkly was definitely something. I think having a kind of real life/true to life ending where things aren’t always so bright and cheery and wrapped up nicely with a bow makes quite an impact. Just as powerful.

      I get that feeling from many of the dystopian novels I’ve read. I enjoy them very much.

      Thanks for the comment Tyler. :) Take care.

      • roundt88 says:

        Hey Donna,

        A good place to start for me when i started reading PKD’s work not too long ago, was a collection of books called The Phillip K Dick Collection by Library of America, they have lots of other collections too.

        It was pretty cheap on amazon as well when i got it, ASD is in there along with Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? (Blade Runner) and The Man in the High Tower (a personal favourite of mine).


        • Donna says:

          Hi Tim,

          I got a collection of short stories last month in my book haul, and I have a feeling there are others too. I do have Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, so I’ll be reading that some time down the line. :)

          Thanks for the comment! Take care.

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