Friday, August 27, 2010

A NUMB Review...With Feeling

Mal resembled nothing else as much as a poorly gathered scarecrow. Over six feet tall, with kinky reddish blond hair and three days of beard, he wore a cheap plaid dress shirt, very old jeans, and no shoes or socks. A scar above his right eye showed where a juggled machete had ended an errant toss. His long arms seemed to grow out of his unbuttoned sleeves. As he lifted the television antenna over his head, his dark eyes glowering at the poor reception on the screen and his high cheekbones casting a skeletal shadow across his face, I thought he might be losing a battle with something unseen by anyone else but him.

Thus began my journey into Sean Ferrel’s NUMB world.

He shows up early one morning, broken and bloody, a man with no memory…and no pain. He says he is Numb, and that becomes his name. With nowhere to turn, Numb joins the circus he’d wandered into. At first, he does small tasks, helping set up and tear down as the circus moves from venue to venue. That is until he accidentally nails himself to a tent pole. Once he’s pried loose, he’s catapulted into the spotlight, the main attraction of the freakshow.

Come see the man who feels no pain! Watch as he drives nails through his flesh! Staples, too! The audience is welcome to participate!

Enter the rich oilman who has grown bored with Numb’s act and demands a more captivating show. Yes, friends. Numb is going to wrestle a lion.

Afterwards, Numb leaves the circus. With his friend Mal, he journeys across the country to New York City, following the one and only clue he has to his forgotten past: a brittle, blood-splattered business card. Paying for the trip is easy, what with his very unique talent, and soon he finds himself the center of attention, allowing people to nail him hand and foot to wooden bars for money. Before he can even begin his search, celebrity is forced upon him.

Now, Numb finds himself navigating through an alternate universe, as fame brings with it fortune hounds and opportunists all clamoring to use Numb’s numbness all to their own advantage. As he stumbles through the minefield that is celebrity, Numb works to uncover the answer to the one question he has: Who am I?

Sean Ferrel has a way with words that makes me want to knock him down and steal his talent. (If only it were that easy) Each line flowed seamlessly into the next with no wasted syllables. Everything was vivid and thought-provoking. I could see every person, every place, and every scar. With NUMB, I could see the main character as a real individual, not some paper person who could only live in my head. He was flawed, and that made him beautiful.

I really only have one problem with the book, and it was minor. That said, I can’t really disclose my issue without spoiling the entertainment that is NUMB for all of you. So, let’s just say that this book is a wild ride through the strange world of pseudo-celebrity and all the pitfalls it entails that will make you examine your own ideas about friendship, life, and personal identity.

How about all of you magnificent minions? Is NUMB on your short-list of soon-to-be-read, or have you already dove into its deliciousness? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!