Tasha Robinson's Reviews > Man in the Empty Suit

Man in the Empty Suit by Sean Ferrell
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Great start, muddled resolution. The plot features a time-traveler who returns to the same hotel every year of subjective personal time, in 2071, which would be his 100th birthday: The result is a time-traveler's convention where he's the only guest, rubbing shoulders with dozens of copies of himself. The plot hook is that one year, he encounters a corpse: His own, a version of him from six months in the future. So it becomes a murder mystery, with the narrator as the detective, the victim, and all the suspects. The first half of the book is close to brilliant, as he navigates the agendas of all his past and future selves: He's a selfish, impatient, arrogant attention-hog, and being around himself is perpetually irritating, as he harshly judges both what he once was and what he will become, while simultaneously understanding his past selves better than anyone else could, and seeing, with some frustration, how easily he can become what he doesn't like in his future selves. But the convention sequence eventually gets chaotic and overstretched, then gives way to a long sidebar that's harder to reconcile with his insular, self-made world; it's just enough information about what's going on in 2071 to raise a lot of questions about how close to our own this world is, since it seems more like something out of a fable than something that could happen in reality. And the rushed, poorly explained resolution reminded me far too much of Gregory Maguire's Wicked, with a complicated plot and protagonist being forced into a series of out-of-character choices in order to reconcile with what's come before. A fascinating idea, but it feels to me like it would have been better served if the murder mystery were a novella, and a separate terrific (but not very well integrated) section—about an actress who hires out as a surrogate friend or family member to people who are missing a specific person in their lives—as a short story.
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Reading Progress

January 1, 2014 – Started Reading
January 1, 2014 – Shelved
January 3, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Stevie (new) - added it

Stevie I actually gave up on this about halfway through because it was getting confounding, and I wasn't getting a lot of enjoyment out of the character's self loathing. Good distillation of a premise being greater than execution.

Tasha Robinson I really wanted to like it better than I did, so I soldiered on. I'm kind of glad you didn't.

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