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The year he turns 39, though, the party takes a stressful turn for the worse. Before he even makes it into the grand ballroom for a drink he encounters the body of his forty-year-old self, dead of a gunshot wound to the head. As the older versions of himself at the party point out, the onus is on him to figure out what went wrong--he has one year to stop himself from being murdered, or they're all goners. As he follows clues that he may or may not have willingly left for himself, he discovers rampant paranoia and suspicion among his younger selves, and a frightening conspiracy among the Elders. Most complicated of all is a haunting woman possibly named Lily who turns up at the party this year, the first person besides himself he's ever seen at the party. For the first time, he has something to lose. Here's hoping he can save some version of his own life.
"Ferrell's humor and invention will draw you in, and the real emotion in his writing will keep you reading. A clever premise that deepens into a surprising and moving story about fate, identity, and how we shape our own lives and the lives of those around us."
—Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
“A tour de force. Ferrell's skill in plotting is matched only by his ability to bring fully-formed characters to life. A moving and brilliantly-executed puzzle of a novel.”
—Emily St. John Mandel, author of The Lola Quartet
"Ferrell makes a strong case to be the Kurt Vonnegut of his generation. Man in the Empty Suit is alternately funny, sad, and thought-provoking.... I wish I could travel back in time and write this book myself."
—Andrew Shaffer, bestselling author of Fifty Shames of Earl Grey
"Man in the Empty Suit is a marvel: a complicated, soul searching, entirely riveting piece of work."
—Marcy Dermansky, author of Bad Marie
“An arresting setup—the same character is simultaneously the murder victim, suspect, and investigator—and Ferrell exploits it carefully... [presenting] the reader with some ugly truths about life and owning up to who we really are. Ferrell himself has jokingly called it the time-travel book of 3102, but I wouldn't suggest waiting that long.”
“[Man in the Empty Suit has] an ingenious setup....Both Looper and Man In The Empty Suit track the trajectory of a pained, lonely man who learns what it means to sacrifice for the sake of another’s well-being.”
—The A.V. Club
“Ferrell’s novel satisfies as both a tale of a four-dimensional conspiracy and as a stark meditation on solitude.”
“An exceptional read for any sci-fi fan who enjoys a challenge.”
—The Maine Edge
“Ferrell (Numb) has written a brain-teasing, paradox-defying, time travel mystery in the tradition of such pretzel-bending-logic classics as Fritz Leiber’s The Big Time and Robert A. Heinlein’s 'By His Bootstraps.'”
"Engaging and thought-provoking...It will also appeal to readers of Stephen King’s 11/22/63."
"Full of imagination and head-scratching conundrums... It should definitely appeal to those who enjoy offbeat sf and mystery fiction."
"Man in the Empty Suit has a clever enough premise that it could be straight out of a Philip K. Dick or Kurt Vonnegut novel.”
“Out of this intriguing premise Sean Ferrell proceeds to spin a dark hybrid of Paul Auster and the film Memento, complete with a mysterious love interest... Best of all, however, is the evocation of mid-21st century New York as a melancholy, dilapidated place high in entropy, cluttered with ruined buildings, and weirdly infested with parrots.”
—The Toronto Star
"Man in the Empty Suit is a rich, complex novel.... a slightly sinister, brooding tale of death and lost love."
“A most unusual murder mystery.”
“Enter a mysterious woman with parrot tattoos, a post-apocalyptic Manhattan, Vonnegut-sharp humor and Hemingway-spare prose, and you’ve got some seriously good sci-fi. VERDICT: Buy, you fools!”
“A cerebral, noirish, and very unusual novel … a challenge for me to put down. This one made me think about it long after I was finished.”
—My Bookish Ways
“This is trippy book; a great read... Ferrell spins a web of lies, deceit, and self-loathing, sprinkles it with intelligent humor and wit, a dash of love and loss, and presents it to the reader on a silver platter.”
“[Man in the Empty Suit] is tickling the Dr. Who parts of my brain, but in a really dark kind of way.... As you can imagine, this has one hell of an opening line: It is unfortunate for me that I am, by most any objective measure, a genius. Quite the set up for an interesting story.”
—A Home Between Pages
Praise for Sean Ferrell's Numb
"Ferrell's eye-catching debut is a mordant take on contemporary culture."
"Offbeat.... The book has a lot of heart."
"A masterwork of transgressive fiction."
—David Brown, writer for The Week, The Atlantic, and Mental Floss
From the Hardcover edition.
From the Hardcover edition.
Posted February 5, 2013
When I picked up NUMB, Sean Ferrell’s debut novel, I had no idea what a treat was in store for me.
In much the same way, MAN IN THE EMPTY SUIT was a complete surprise to me in all the best ways. I knew going in that it was about time travel, but as with all great works of fiction, it’s not really about time travel. I’m almost afraid to say much of anything substantial in this review for fear of unwrapping your gift instead of allowing you to peel the tape off yourselves.
MAN IN THE EMPTY SUIT follows many incarnations of the same character—from his youth to his old age—as they meet once a year in the same time/place to celebrate their birthday. Birthdays mean little, as you might imagine, when linear time no longer constricts you, but our main character is a thoughtful man. Instead of sharing his glowing triumph with the world he chooses to spend his time traveling along, but knowing all the versions of the man he has been and will be creates an intricate self-loathing. The year he supposes will be his best, based on observations over many years, arrives with all kinds of surprises…including the first guess at his private party that’s not, well, himself.
Then there’s the slight issue that the man one year older than he has been murdered, and if he can’t figure out what happens between now and then, the rest of his life will disappear.
We follow the man as he pursues the answers to his own mystery—along with the mysteries we’re all hoping to solve: what have we learned, who will we be, and is it possible to change our chartered course once we’re already on the tracks.
I would recommend this thoughtful novel without hesitation to anyone who enjoys a delightful combination of mind bending plot twists and thoughtful ruminations on the lives we lead…and the ones we want to lead.
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Posted May 28, 2013
This is trippy book, but it’s a great read. The idea that a party is attended every year by different versions of yourself can be staggering. Ferrell spins a web of lies, deceit, and self-loathing, sprinkles it with intelligent humor and wit, a dash of love and loss, and presents it to the reader on a silver platter. The main character has no name, which allows the reader to insert his or herself into the story with ease. Even the love interest has more than one name, making it difficult to pin her down. This is a complicated story that doesn’t end where you think it will, which makes it all the more intriguing. If you like to be challenged, this is a book for you.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 2, 2013
This book is a lot different than most books because the main character is never given a name. He is just known as "the suit." As some point of his life he invented the raft, which allows him to travel through time. On every birthday, he travels to the year 2071, which is 100 years after his birth year. There he has a party at a New York hotel with only different versions of himself as the guests.
The suit is not normally a very sociable person, so who better to have a party with than himself (or selves).
The suit has different names for the different ages of himself such as the inventor, screwdriver, the nose and seventy. This is how he distinguishes himself as each age. The book also has a list of rules that the suit insists on always following one of the main things is to never let a younger version of himself know what will happen.
The suit arrives at the party on his 39th birthday and all of a sudden, things are different from his last visit including having young versions of himself that shouldn't be there and there is a mysterious woman named Lily. The rest of the book involves the suit trying to solve a mystery that will befall his 40 year old self and to learn the truth behind the mysterious Lily and to figure out who is responsible for everything.
Though the book sounds interesting I had several problems with it. First it is written in a way that makes it difficult to follow until the reader is well into the story. The book also drags in several places. Lastly, there are several unexplained paradoxes. The future New York is interesting but there is virtually no technology discussed that doesn't exist now.
If the book weren't so slow in parts, I would try rereading it to see if I could get better answers for my confusion. I give this book a little more than two and a half stars
Posted March 17, 2013
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