May 10, 2011

Stuck in another person's body

by Martyn Bedford

Alex Gray wakes up in another person's body. Suddenly, he's in a different time, a different city, and a different home. Everyone thinks he's Philip "Flip" Garamond. It seems that Alex and Flip have switched bodies in a case of psyche evacuation brought on by a near-death experience (Alex's body is in the hospital, where it lies in a coma from a hit-and-run). 

On the Internet, Alex finds a psyche evacuation support group. Rob, one of its members, encourages Alex to enjoy his newfound freedom, especially since Flip is everything Alex is not: popular, athletic, and attractive. But Alex finds it too difficult to pretend to be someone he is not. He desperately tries to reenter his body (and restore Flip's to his) before his grieving family decides to pull the plug.

A very slow-moving story at first (the author does more telling than showing), but it gets better near the end. It would have been more interesting if we knew what Flip was experiencing as well. Alex has nightmares triggered by Flip's attempts to escape, but the two minds do not meet.

However, the novel raises intriguing questions about what constitutes self, identity, consciousness, and uniqueness, as well as the difficulty with truth, lies, life, and death.

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