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{February 4, 2013}   {ARC Review} Man in the Empty Suit by Sean Ferrell

13531802From Goodreads: Say you’re a time traveler and you’ve already toured the entirety of human history. After a while, the outside world might lose a little of its luster. That’s why this time traveler celebrates his birthday partying with himself. Every year, he travels to an abandoned hotel in New York City in 2071, the hundredth anniversary of his birth, and drinks twelve-year-old Scotch (lots of it) with all the other versions of who he has been and who he will be. Sure, the party is the same year after year, but at least it’s one party where he can really, well, be himself. 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.

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I’m sorry to say that this novel was not for me.  In truth, it was a little beyond me.  Now, I understood the idea behind the birthday party, and the many versions of the main character, but I think I became overwhelmed when our main character began changing identities and becoming different versions of himself.  Or, at least I think that was what was going on.  Now, don’t write this off as too confusing  for you, just yet.  I have an inkling that if you enjoy intense puzzles, or the movie Inception, then this is right up your alley.  I, personally, like everything spelled out for me directly, cut and dry, so with the changing of identities and the evaluations of different clues left by future selves that our main character later becomes, I kind of became lost within the story.

I did thoroughly enjoy the portion of the story that dealt with the main character’s romance, though.  The story surrounding Lily, and a world where everything we’ve ever known is pretty much in ruin, was very intriguing.  I especially liked Lily’s back-story of playing “house” for a lonely old man who pretends he still has his family; it was a bit mind blowing, but awesome just the same.  Ever thought of having a job in which you are paid to “be” someone’s relative?  For me, this was the true redeeming aspect of the story as we learn about Lily’s past and what eventually brings her to the party, but then, once again, the novel jumps back to the party and the many identities of our main character, which left me confused again.

This novel isn’t going to be for everyone, but like I said before, those who really enjoy mind-boggling movies and books should check out this novel.  It’s a completely unique mystery novel.  I, personally, can only give it two stars, though.

2 stars

Soho Press has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, vai Netgalley, prior to its release tomorrow, February 5, 2013.

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