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Strange Bodies

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  1,539 ratings  ·  204 reviews
Whatever this is, it started when Nicky Slopen came back from the dead.

Nicholas Slopen has been dead for months. So when a man claiming to be Nicholas turns up to visit an old girlfriend, deception seems the only possible motive.

Yet nothing can make him change his story.

From the secure unit of a notorious psychiatric hospital, he begins to tell his tale: an account of atte
Hardcover, 376 pages
Published May 2nd 2013 by Faber and Faber (first published April 30th 2013)
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Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Body-swapping as a metaphor for reading?
A genre-defying excursion into the nature of existence and mortality.

I am very impressed by Marcel Theroux’s eclectic literary range and his metaphysical belief in the power of words to shape our reality and identity. He celebrates the act of reading as “the transaction between two consciousnesses, only one of whom needs to be alive.”
In this novel, which is a blend of science fiction, psychological thriller and Gothic horror, Theroux expands on Milton’s b
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I have been circling this novel since I saw it listed on The Millions Great 2014 Book Preview. Without a lot of books I had to read at home, it found its way into my pile from the library.

I think the author has attempted to combine some of the topics he is deeply interested in into one novel, when really they may have been better served divided at least into two. The thread following all the way through is a discussion on what makes a person human, through a scenario that puts a person's ideas (
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Strange Bodies is science fiction. But it is the kind of science fiction that is a springboard for larger conceits. In this way, it is similar to the novels of Margaret Atwood and Doris Lessing in that it is much more interested in philosophical examination than future speculation. The author Marcel Theroux has written a novel about identity and the state of reality. That put him in the company of a definitive sci-fi author, Philip K. Dick. Yet Theroux throws another philosophical log on the fir ...more
Joanne Sheppard
May 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In an age when our written words are more publicly available than ever, thanks to blogging, social networking, self-published e-books and internet message boards, Marcel Theroux’s Strange Bodies presents us with a prospect that seems even more sinister than it otherwise might: the notion that our personalities, our consciousness, our very being, could be reproduced solely from our written output.

Told through a combination of written forms including a psychiatrist’s case notes and the memoir of o
Apr 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
‘What makes me, me? What makes you, you?’ Cat Stevens

When Nicholas Slopen turns up at the shop of an old friend, she is stunned. He looks completely different, his voice is different but, most surprisingly of all, she’d heard he’d died the year before. And yet once they start talking, she is soon convinced that it is indeed he.

This intelligent and very well written book poses the question – what makes us, us? Can we be defined, summed up, by the words we speak? What if we are sundered irrevocabl
Cathi Davis
Apr 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Nick Slopen aka "victor" a "reincarnated" Russian peasant. The Common Purpose sneaks in around mid book, after an opening that is mysterious and, yes, strange. One who is ...but does not appear to be. I didn't realize this was SCience Fiction,,,it is so very firmly rooted in today, mundanely detailed in Facebbok, the internet, the minutiae of everyday life, and yet collides with the question of what is identity? The SF concept...that personality can be transferred to another's living self..suppl ...more
(FBC rv, all links and related stuff there):

After Far North (FBC short rv), the wonderfully written but pretty banal in content as a run of the mill post-apocalyptic story that could have been so much more, I kept an eye on any new offerings from Marcel Theroux, so Strange Bodies went my "wanted list" the moment I found about it.

The blurb above strongly reminded me of 9 Tail Fox, the second of a loose trilogy by J.C. Grimwood which imho is arguably the best recent series of near-future literary
Jul 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-favorites
Whoa. Compelling. A modern retelling of (view spoiler). I'm adding spoiler tags, simply because I am a firm believer that you shouldn't spoil books by reading too much about them (or films by watching the trailers, or men by googling their names). Half the fun of anything is letting an author/a director/your new hot date reveal themselves to you.

And wow, I think that's why I liked this. Theroux reveals the novel piece by piece to you. I felt like I k
Nov 22, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
This is a perfunctory and dour thriller that attempts to update the Frankenstein story, with mixed results. The ending is elegant and rather sad, but is a case of too little, too late. The big problem here is that the main protagonist, Nicholas, is so unlikeable that not even his doppelganger likes himself; which poses a bit of a problem for the reader.

I got the feeling reading this that Marcel Theroux himself failed to believe sufficiently in his hypothesis of using language to ‘code’ human con
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If I could give this 2.5 stars, I would. Strange bodies, strange read. My god, it was a trudge to get through. The most annoying part was that it was JUST interesting enough to force me to keep reading it through to the end, but getting there was such a damn headache. There was just too much philosophy forced into the plot in such a heavy-handed way. Also, the main character, Nicholas Slopen, is a Samuel Johnson scholar. Who the hell is Samuel Johnson?!? Is this just a UK or maybe English major ...more
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.

If you like David Mitchell or Christopher Priest, you'll be in familiar and enjoyable territory here.
Based on the blurb, I had been hoping for something a little more mysterious and mind-bending, but it was actually pretty straightforward -- very well written though.
Dec 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
5/5 I love this book.
The characters are fantastic, as are the perspectives. There is a twist later on that I adore, and it really opens up the world.
This is set in pretty modern times, and deals with science fiction themes, but has a feel of the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. It is complex and beautifully written. My favourite characters were "Jack" and another that will spoil everything if I give the name...
As an added bonus, the ending is just perfect.

Also, if you're looking for a book with
James Harris
Dec 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Strange Bodies is clever book, with a clever protagonist and a clever central conceit. Sadly it's almost too clever: while I think the style is deliberately quite dry and formal, evoking as it does 19th century works like Frankenstein, the effect is a bit distancing on an emotional level. So I kept turning the pages to see what happened next, but I wouldn't say I particularly cared. Clever though. Very clever.
Laurie Notaro
May 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A modern day Frankenstein story that challenges what we believe about identity, experience and individuality. Masterfully suspenseful, subtlety written. Mind bender. I ate this book up. Gobbled it. Highly recc.
L.A. Starks
Feb 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Without revealing much this is a good twist to the mystery-thriller format, although it takes a while for the action to unfold.
Coral Davies
If I could I would give this 3.5 stars out of 5 but I can't, and it's just not good enough for 4 stars.

So the premise is that one man's consciousness (Nicky Slopen) has been "transplanted" from one body to another following his assumed demise. Nicky then attempts to communicate this transference with little success; he finds himself in a mental institute. Eventually he manages to escape, tracking down a former lover and dying (for a second time) in her living room, hiding under a chair a USB ke
Sluggish Neko
I read a lot of sci-fi, so I easily guessed the true nature of the asylum patient who claims to be Dr. Nicholas Slopen, a Samuel Johnson academic who is already dead, and how it was related to the strange forger of Samuel Johnson letters who Dr. Slopen befriends. The science of it all isn't satisfying, but the novel's exploration of the nature of consciousness and identity is intriguing in a philosophical way. As a bonus, because Slopen is a well-read narrator, the various poems referenced compl ...more
Jun 07, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite the 3 star rating I have given this book, I quite enjoyed it and would like to say its closer to 3.5 - 3.75 stars.

The story captivated me from the beginning, presenting an interesting narrative and several ideas that I will admit are too big for my brain to comprehend.

Due to the questions I found myself pondering relating to the self, consciousness and being, I would probably categorise Strange Bodies as philosophical fiction, rather than sci-fi as some reviews suggest.

I look forward t
Jun 18, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of thrillers, Frankenstein, Samuel Johnson &/or anyone who wants to be cryogenically preserved
Enjoyable -- seemed like a smart, fast-paced thriller (I guess that's the category it might be in?). It had some serious overtones of Frankenstein throughout, including the same melancholic tone pervading the story, imo. It raised some interesting philosophical questions about the nature of self & what makes a person.

A smart beach read, if you don't mind a little melancholy with your day in the sand....
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really struggled to get into this book and I can honestly say that I didn't begin to enjoy reading it until 70% in! I almost gave up and marked it as 'Did not finish' on three occasions but something compelled me to keep reading; I don't know what because I found it boring and slow. I didn't understand a lot of what was happening and found it to be almost non fictional/autobiographical with it's complicated writing. I don't know, maybe I am not intellectual enough for this book.
Jun 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: llegits-2014
una novela con un punto de partida interesante, pero demasiado densa para mi gusto porque alarga la historia innecesariamente pasando de puntillas sobre la parte de la trama que más me interesaba.
Jan 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: murder-mystery
I love literary fiction and a good literary murder mystery and this book certainly covers those requirements, but the unexpected (to me) science fiction twist was not to my taste so I gave up on this one. Just not my thing.
Anne Goodwin
An engaging novel about identity, madness and the relationship between mind and body.
More at
Nov 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All
Recommended to Debbie by: Goodreads
This would have been even better if I understood the mechanics of this particular brand of Frankenstienism but what I got and the fascinating characters and relationships between them were different and kept me reading.
Tudor Ciocarlie
Feb 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, intelligent and well written book, that uses the science-fiction tools to talk about what makes us who we are. It reminded me very much of Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg.
Feb 15, 2014 marked it as thinking-about
Shelves: science-fiction
Erin Britton
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
When Susanna Laidlaw-Robinson receives an unexpected visit from her ex-boyfriend Nicky Slopen she’s more than a little surprised – she had, after all, heard that Nicky had died in a road accident about a year earlier. Still, despite that initial alive/dead hiccup, the visit goes pretty well and so when Nicky turns up again, more bedraggled and incoherent this time, Susanna does take pains to help him although everything takes a quick turn for the weird when Nicky dies later that evening in the m ...more
Dec 03, 2018 rated it liked it
It ought to have been better than it turned out. The story is basically a slower, more philosophic version of Altered Carbon, with strange people showing up on doorsteps, claiming to be the dead. It’s a good tale, certainly better than Altered Carbon, which is generic sci-fi, but it’s seriously hampered by the narration.

Our hero/narrator is a literature professor and makes for painfully dry and clinical read. Not that literature professors are necessarily dry and humorless, but this one was and
David Cain
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
This is the second of Marcel Theroux's books that I've read. The first (Far North) was excellent, and this one is not too far behind. The major themes in this literary novel are what it means to be a unique individual as well as the nature of the human soul. The story seems to split into three sections: the first is a literary mystery, the second is an action thriller, and the third (the weakest portion, in my opinion) attempts to wrap things up in a relatively contemplative way, although many p ...more
Sangeeta K
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book answers a lot of questions about whether the human mind, itself, is capable of withstanding multiple incarnations. Think of the phrase 'death is the enemy', then think of all those intellectuals scuttling to immortalize themselves through writing. The book has a very heavy influence of nihilism, and addresses middle ground between our existence as it is today and the successful transference of human consciousness among multiple 'carcasses', as Nicky Slopen calls them. Should you have l ...more
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Marcel (Raymond) Theroux is a British novelist and broadcaster. He is the older son of the American travel writer and novelist, Paul Theroux. His younger brother, Louis Theroux, is a journalist and television reporter.

Born in Kampala, Uganda, Theroux was brought up in Wandsworth, London. After attending a state primary school he boarded at Westminster School. He went on to study English at Clare C
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“Literature itself is a species of code. You line up symbols and create a simulacrum of life.” 2 likes
“The Word is alive. We have always known it. But it needs to be uttered, aloud or in the mind of a reader. Without a consciousness to tickle them into life, those books were dead.” 2 likes
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