Reviewed by Amanda Hayes
An intriguing and thought provoking book that is difficult to review without giving away the ending. It is hard going at times as it twists and turns its way through academia in London and science (fiction?) in Moscow.
The book starts with Nicholas Slopen returning from the dead, but he looks different, speaks differently and can’t convince anyone, not even his ex-wife and children that he is who he says he is. The story unravels from there, is it really Nicholas or is he an imposter, he seems to know an awful lot about Nicholas’s personal life if that’s the case.It starts near the end of his life and weaves its way from the beginning pulling you into the narrative as it goes along. Nicholas is pretty self-obsessed at the beginning and as a side story loses his wife and children to another man. It is his subsequent obsession with his children that ultimately finds him in the DHU, a psychiatric unit, trying to convince everyone he is who he says he is. He tells his story from the unit putting further doubt into your mind what is real and what is fake.
Nicholas is an academic and is targeted by who he believes to be unscrupulous dealers trying to sell previously unseen letters from a great author. But there is way more to this that meets the eye and when he ends up doubting the authenticity of the letters he gets drawn into the shady world of Russian Science. He has an ally, Vera, but even she is not entirely who she professes to be. Nicholas ends up following Vera to Russia testing her theories. In return he ends up being followed, captured and experimented on. The story follows him throughout all these stages in his life, both in England and Russia and you get drawn into the story and you end up asking yourself can it possibly be real or is it pure fiction.
The characters are all very complex which makes for a long but satisfying read. The book itself is based on the ideas and concepts of the Russian, Nikolai Fedorov who believed in resurrection & immortality, calling this the Common Task, as he believed that everyone should be working towards a common goal, to live forever. I found the book so compelling that I looked up Nikolai on the internet and read about his life’s work. While Strange Bodies would not be my normal choice of reading material I found it absorbing and didn’t want to put it down until I found out the conclusion.
RRP: £14.99 (Hardback) / £7.99 (Paperback) / £4.99 (Kindle)
Available to buy from Amazon here.