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3.37  ·  Rating details ·  247 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Early one morning‚ after a sandstorm had ripped through north Texas‚ I wandered into Mr. Tilly's circus. I wore a black suit and blood ran down my face. When some of the carnies came up to me, I said, "I'm numb." This became my name.

A man with no memory who feels no pain, Numb travels to New York City after a short stint with the circus, following the one and only clue he
Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 3rd 2010 by HarperPerennial (first published July 18th 2010)
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3.37  · 
Rating details
 ·  247 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Andrew Smith
Mar 31, 2013 rated it liked it
A beaten and bleeding man who, it transpires, doesn't feel pain, staggers into the company of a group of circus performers. I dont know if such a condition exists but it struck me as a great basis on which to kick off an intriguing novel. Before long the man is part of the travelling circus and we follow him and his new friends as his life is transformed by his 'gift' and as his knowledge of his previous life starts to be unveiled.

In truth, the the execution doesn't quite match the idea. We do m
Apr 01, 2010 added it
Numb is the story of a man who arrives at a circus with no memory of who he is and no ability to feel pain. he becomes famous because of it, all while struggling to discover who he really is (and not just in the sense of where he came from, but what kind of person he wants to be.)

I was expecting this one to have a compelling plot, but I wasn't expecting the writing to be as beautiful as it often was. Not necessarily my usual thing (though Numb does, in a way, come of age), but I definitely liked
Elisabeth Black
Feb 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I reviewed this book on my blog, here: http://elisabethblack-writer.blogspot...

A snippet:
Ferrell's elegant and beautiful prose ensnared me from the start. Beyond the author's voice, though, there's a stillness within the narrator, a unique receptivity that counter-balances the exuberance of his adventures. And adventures there are. Numb is a serious book, but it's an exciting one too.
Benoit Lelièvre
Mar 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Praise the Gods of Social Media (and Janet Reid), I have bought Numb. Honestly, since I've begun this whole blogging thing, I've been swimming in a lake of paranormal, romance, vampires and werewolves writers. When I heard about Sean Ferrell through his agent's blog, I was curious. His approach to fiction writing seemed similar to mine. My writer-sense didn't disappoint me, because Numb is one hell of book.

Numb is the story of...Numb, some guy that walks into a freak show circus in Texas, covere
Colin Smith
Mar 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
A man wanders into a circus with no memory of who he is or where he came from. All we know is that he is unable to feel pain. He is numb, and so that becomes his name. NUMB tells the story of this stranger as he goes from being one form of circus side show to another, traveling from the big top in Texas to the big city and media attention of New York. As his star ascends, the mystery of who he is and why he's numb hangs over him, waiting to be resolved.

NUMB is Sean Ferrell's debut novel. There a
Sep 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Numb is a man who feels no pain and doesn’t remember where he came from or anything about his past. His only link to his personal history is a bloody business card he finds in his pocket. After performing with a circus and befriending fellow performer, Mal, the two travel to New York together. Numb’s journey to understanding himself is full of people who appear to want to help but just might have other motives for befriending him. Will Numb be able to make sense of the intentions of the people h ...more
David Hebblethwaite
Nov 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
The titular character of Sean Ferrell’s Numb by is unable to feel pain, or to remember who he was before he stumbled, bleeding, into a circus, of which he soon became the star attraction. We join Numb as he is gearing up for his greatest stunt yet – facing off against a lion. Things don’t work out as they should, though, when the lion collapses at the key moment. As a result, Numb leaves the circus, along with his colleague Mal, and heads to New York, in search of his fortune, his identity, or… ...more
Elizabeth A.
Sep 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
When a bloodied stranger with no memory of who he is or how he got there wanders into Mr. Tilly’s Circus in south Texas, the only thing the battered and confused man can think to tell the curious workers who surround him is, “I’m numb.” Though he means it literally, that proclamation also comes to be his name.

Numb’s ability to absorb physical punishment without feeling the resulting pain makes for a highly successful circus act, one that finds him pounding nails through his hands and feet, makin
Derek Gentry
Aug 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
I can always tell that I’m really engaged with a book when I start neglecting mundane obligations like sleep and personal hygiene in order to squeeze in more reading time. Sean Ferrell’s Numb had this effect on me, and this despite the fact that I’m a teensy bit squeamish about blood, and significantly more squeamish about people driving nails through their hands, an activity that constitutes “just another day at the freak show” for Numb’s sensory-challenged, amnesiac title character.

With its da
Sep 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
He blew into the failing circus on a Texas dust storm, bleeding and battered...he said "I'm numb".
That became his name, since he did not remember who he really was, or where he came from.

Numb worked around the circus and ended up as a freak who felt no pain, nailing his hands and feet to boards. He made friends with Mal, a fire eater,and they ended up leaving the circus and going to New York together. Numb had found a bloody business card in the pocket of his suit, and was sure he would find out
Trisha Leigh
Jul 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I finished NUMB, by Sean Ferrell, over the weekend. I had no trouble getting into the descriptive, yet accessible prose. The writing is wonderfully layered; I’m still rummaging through the lingering thoughts and concerns in this novel left in the back of my mind. The story follows a man called Numb who knows nothing about his past – or why he can’t feel any pain.

As he wanders through his days amassing scars on his body and soul, Numb let’s other people control his life and decisions. He floats a
Patty Blount
Feb 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I couldn’t wait to return home from vacation so I could get my hands on NUMB. I’d pre-ordered it weeks ago but it hadn't arrived in time to pack. I read it in a single sitting the morning after I got home. If you follow Sean Ferrell on Twitter or read his blog, you probably think this guy can write. Heh. Wait until you read the book.

The aptly named lead character wanders into a circus one day, unable to remember who is he or feel any pain and soon becomes the major draw. Numb feels nothing, but
Aug 25, 2010 rated it liked it
I was touched by Numb. Initially, I was drawn to its subject: pain and after reading it, I was reminded me of the fact that to feel pain is to be human; that it’s what we all have in common. The book follows a character named Numb. Named that way because he turns up at a circus with no memories of who he is or where he came from and without the ability to feel pain. In Numb’s efforts to find an identity without pain, which is what the book asserts is necessary to the process, Numb doesn’t seem t ...more
Aug 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book had a strange pacing for me as a reader. Much of the text read really fast, and felt like engrossing reading with a bizarre story that followed the life and times of an interesting character. I liked the story as a whole, and enjoyed it touching cavalierly onto moral issues and letting the reader figure out how they felt about each action. The book focused on the lonely life of someone who has an interesting and fascinating gift that lands them in the public eye out of happenstance mor ...more
Sep 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
A lot stuffed in a small package. Don't let the page count fool you, this book will make you think - and feel - like you've read a substantial tome.

The story seems simple enough, an amnesiac who feels no pain searches for his identity, literally and spiritually. In a sense, it is the story of us all.

Forget the part about the amnesia; memory or not, searching for ourselves, understanding who we are, defining our place in life and amongst society is a timeless and ageless theme.

Ferrell gives it
Neil Shurley
Aug 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
I flew through this book. Ferrell's an assured writer and his voice is strong, interesting and funny. I loved the mystical yet down to earth feel of the book and the strange journey of the narrator. It put me in mind of the work of Paul Auster, another author I love.

In Numb, Ferrell creates a sort of avatar of and commentary on contemporary culture. Numb, the character, begins life fully grown, aware of and knowledgeable about everything except his own past. He starts his life in obscurity, gro
Jeremy Brooks
Nov 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Numb had a very narrow narrative focus; not at all a bad thing, that gave Ferrell the canvas needed to tell Numb's and Mal's stories in some level of detail. It's far from an action book; the tension comes from how Numb feels about his disorder, how he relates to people, how they relate to him, if he can overcome his emotional numbness, since it seems he's stuck with his physical one. There didn't seem to be much anticipation around Numb learning his identity, which kind of sapped the tension ou ...more
Mav Skye
Oct 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Sean Ferrell grabs you by the collar and forces you to feel the physical, psychological, and emotional pain that Numb is unable or unwilling to feel. He jars you with the bizarre, distracts you with pretty women, and while you’re looking the other way, pounds nails into your heart. Unlike Numb, you feel each swing of the hammer. It’s like Palahniuk meets Steinbeck in a lion cage. They sit, have coffee, and play chicken with a pairing knife. You are wondering who is going to lose a finger and if ...more
Jonas Samuelle
Apr 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was intrigued to find that the title character's condition goes much deeper than the synopsis implies. The author never says it outright, but Numb's emotions seem to have been stilted as well, always drifting somewhere in the vague midland of feeling.

He (Numb) wanders through the story in a reflective lethargy, letting the whims and desires of others dictate his actions. Ferrel does a good job of making the reader wonder how much our individual identity depends on our ability to feel pain.

Aug 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Sean Farrell's prose is clean and precise, with cutting wit and flawless absurdity. I loved how effortlessly he moved between pondering the inner tension and struggles of Numb's identity to describing the trouble he finds himself in. I wanted to feel more compelled by a passionate narrator, so I can't say I particularly sympathized with Numb, but he raises important, big life questions with deft perception. Well thought out and well written--would love to see what Ferrell could do with a passion ...more
Dec 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
The beauty of this book is in the prose. Mr. Ferrell tackled a difficult task, writing a first person narrative of a man who is unable to feel physical pain, and gave us a book that a reader feels with every word. Numb, the title character, is a troubled soul and while his flesh is incapable of feeling both his soul and psyche ache with alarming clarity. A great read and worthy of at least 4.5 stars.
Dana Elmendorf
Mar 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Dark. Obscure. Twisted. Erotic. It's the grim tale of how pain, or a life without, can make you numb, emotionally and physically. It's a book full of left field WTF's that keep you turning the page. Dumbfounded after reading it, I just need time to process. But I'm glad I immersed my brain.
Boston Book Bums
Sep 27, 2010 rated it liked it
Numb is a book that reads like a strangers journal placed in your hands. Ferrell’s oddly unfeeling world is engrossing, without using any story telling cliches to evoke emotional responses. Ferrell seems to challenge the reader, go ahead read this book and experience it as Numb would. And that is pretty damn difficult and pretty damn skillful of Ferrell.
Harley May
Jul 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Numb is addictive and beautifully told. Ferrell writes characters that are identifiable, yet unique. His world is familiar, but fresh. Numb is laced with dark humor, gorgeous depth, and gritty pathos.

It is a novel readers would be grieved to go through life without.
Renda Dodge
Oct 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
I liked this book enough to keep reading. There was enough of a question about the character and why he was in the situations he was in to keep me intrigued. I liked the writing and character enough to say that enjoyed the book, even though the hook that pulled me in was never answered.
Andrew Shaffer
Jul 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
A quick, fun read, sort of like Chuck Palahniuk meets P.T. Barnum with a shot of Philip K. Dick. NUMB fits somewhere on the shelf between satire, science fiction, and literary fiction; recommended for fans of the aforementioned Palahniuk, Kurt Vonnegut, Max Berry, Chad Kultgen, and Craig Clevenger.
Aug 27, 2010 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stephen Dorneman
Dec 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Interesting concept - a man appears out of nowhere with the inability to feel pain, joins a circus and eventually becomes a national celebrity - but overwriting and character implausibility detract too much from the story. Great depictions of NY and LA, plenty of blood and gore without being gratuitous, but too many people are doing wacky things without explanation, there's a first person narrator who's passive to a fault, and editing /continuity errors that finally doom this first effort by Fer ...more
Dec 27, 2010 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned, arc
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Sean Ferrell lives and works in New York City. He writes novels and picture books.

His novels include Man In The Empty Suit and Numb: A Novel.
His picture books are I Don't Like Koala and The Snurtch.

Sean has been published in several literary journals, including The Adirondack Review which awarded him the Fulton Prize for his short story "Building an Elephant."
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