Author: Jeffrey Ford
Published: May 26, 2020
Thank you so much to Macmillan-Tor/Forge for providing me an ARC of Jeffrey Ford’s Out of Body in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley.
Owen is the local librarian but after witnessing a murder one morning, his world completely changes when he hits his head during the scuffle. He discovers a world past the dreams and fitful snores during the night as he wanders as a Sleeper—an out of body experience where a person’s spirit wanders around as the body is asleep.
The concept of a Sleeper and its lore in Owen’s world was interesting. I thought it was a fresh take on traveling, ghosts and the paranormal-esque until the book turned into a vampire-hunting arc. Was a bit disappointed on that. This book kind of made like the robbery and the death of Helen Roane (Or Roan? Not sure) was justified because the person who killed her was ‘mind controlled’ by a hundred year old demon-like vampire. So, she just died because she was unlucky? I thought there would be more with Helen Roane, turns out she was really unlucky. At a wrong place in the wrong time. Same with Owen as well.
What I liked though was how this did not focus on Owen’s love life although it lingered as it delved into the chemistry between Melody and Owen. I wish we had seen more of Melody in the real world, perhaps knew her more. Unfortunately, Melody ended up as a bad-weed-Sleeper (probably not the term but I couldn’t remember the correct word) and that made me sad. She seemed kind and she really took care of the naive Owen in his journey as a Sleeper. The end kind of shocked me though. It was bittersweet. Makes you feel an inkling of hate to Owen as well.
Another thing I realized that this book did was how the main character, Owen, was not built as the hero. In fact, he depends on the women around him to save the day—Kiara, Melody and Mrs. Hultz. Unlike other books, Owen is a man who feels lonely yet has no interest in finding a romantic relationship. He cares more about books than humans; he battles with sleep paralysis. He has managed to successfully quit smoking and drinking and makes collages to cope. He is seen as weak and ignorant of the world around him, some would even see him as ‘feminine’. Mrs. Hultz even comments it is time for him to join “the adults”. And, I think, the author’s approach to Owen brings us another perspective about men. It destroys the narrative that they are always the heroes. They can be dependent as well; they can be the one in distress, a huge contrast on the constant reference on Sleeping Beauty in the novel. These do not, however, make Owen less of a man, and I love that bit in this book.
I will definitely recommend this book although it’s definitely not a mystery/thriller that it first suggested based on the blurb. This is perfect for those who crave a paranormal-fantasy twist. I’m giving this three as I was greatly disappointed on the vampire route it took. I thought it would give a fresher take. Other than that, this is a good, short read.