Man in the Empty Suit - Sean Ferrell image

My brain feels something like this after reading this novel: full of explosions. The Paradox Problem has always been an issue when a good author takes on time travel. Sean Ferrell not only takes on the Paradox Problem, but throws it in your face. The book has a little bit of a Doctor Who in Pompeii feel to it.

A time traveler, whose first name is never given (correct? Unless I missed it somewhere) decides, when he's 19, that every year on his birthday, he is going to travel to 100 years after the date of his birth and get drunk with all past and future versions of himself. Everything changes on his 39th birthday when he is The Suit, that year, he finds the Body. The Body appears to be 6 months to a year older than he is. How could this be? There are Elders in attendance of the party, and Youngsters that are far younger than the Inventor. On top of all this, there is a mysterious woman who has been invited by some version of himself and he's never noticed her before. What has happened!? Can he possibly save the Body's life and the life of this woman?!

Wait, What? Yes, it really is just that confusing and terrifyingly awesome and wonderful. I'm writing this review and still trying to figure out exactly what happened in this novel. Any book I can finish and then immediately decide it deserves a re-read because everything loops into everything else earns some serious points in my book.

There are rules that the versions of himself are supposed to follow at the party, to prevent Paradoxes. Of course, he doesn't always follow these rules, because you can only watch yourself break your nose so many times before you try to stop it. Every choice The Suit makes that doesn't follow the expected timeline of the Elders, untethers more and more of them, freeing them to make their own choices and to change their own lives. As is put succinctly quite a few times, "Fuck the rules." The more I think about it, the more I'm deciding that "Fuck the rules," is really the point of the novel. Rules are made to be broken, and we can only truly be free when we follow our hearts and own ideals, rather than listening to how other people expect things to go.

My favorite quote of the novel is the last few sentences, and I'll share them with you, because I really don't believe it gives anything of the plot away.
"The future vibrated with uncertainty. I had failed. I had ignorance. I had hope."

I do think this requires a re-read in 6 months, after I've mulled it over for a while. I need to let my brain soak in it before I start again. I think I'll take even more away from it, the second time around.

In summary: Wait, what?! Oh! Sweet! Awesome.

I received this book for free from the publisher, via NetGalley. This review was originally posted at RATS.