Monday, February 4, 2013

Review: The Man in the Empty Suit

Author: Sean Ferrell
Title: The Man in the Empty Suit 
Description: The narrator—we never learn his name—invented time travel, and to celebrate, he throws a party on the 100th anniversary of his birth, to which he travels every time he has aged 365 days. The year he gets to wear The Suit, he’s excited about visiting the party, but something happens that has never happened before—one of his selves turns up dead, and it’s a self that’s not too far in the future from him. If he wants to continue to live, he has to use the clues he’s left himself to figure out how to prevent the killing. A beautiful woman shows up at the party as well, and who she is and why she came—and how to save her life—become other puzzles that the narrator must solve before time runs out.
Review source: Netgalley
Plot: The first half of the book had me totally gripped. This kind of self-referential time travel is fascinating. I thought the book slowed a little once the narrator left the party.
Characters: The narrator is the main character—the ONLY character for much of the book, though he shows up in many incarnations, which he names (the Youngsters, including the Inventor, and the Elders, including Seventy, Yellow, and the Screwdriver. Not to mention the Body.) In many ways he is completely self-absorbed and self-focused—which makes sense, since he is the only person he interacts with—but when he leaves the party, he suddenly becomes selfless, which strikes me as a little artificial.
Writing style: The author keeps things moving briskly for the first half of the book, but then the action slows way down. I have to admit that by the end I was mighty confused. I could probably have worked things out with an elaborate diagram of who was tethered to whom, as I’m sure Ferrell did, but I didn’t want to go to the bother.
Audience: Science fiction, time travel, or mystery fans.
Wrap-up: You’ll probably want to turn to page 1 and read it again, just to figure everything out. 3.5/5*

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