Genre: Science Fiction
Publication date: July 10th, 2018
Page Count: 372
In this debut set in near future NYC—where lives last 300 years and the pursuit of immortality is all-consuming—Lea must choose between her estranged father and her chance to live forever.
Lea Kirino is a “Lifer,” which means that a roll of the genetic dice has given her the potential to live forever—if she does everything right. And Lea is an overachiever. She’s a successful trader on the New York exchange—where instead of stocks, human organs are now bought and sold—she has a beautiful apartment, and a fiancé who rivals her in genetic perfection. And with the right balance of HealthTech™, rigorous juicing, and low-impact exercise, she might never die.
But Lea’s perfect life is turned upside down when she spots her estranged father on a crowded sidewalk. His return marks the beginning of her downfall as she is drawn into his mysterious world of the Suicide Club, a network of powerful individuals and rebels who reject society’s pursuit of immortality, and instead chose to live—and die—on their own terms. In this future world, death is not only taboo; it’s also highly illegal. Soon Lea is forced to choose between a sanitized immortal existence and a short, bittersweet time with a man she has never really known, but who is the only family she has left in the world.
Suicide Club by RACHEL HENG is about the possibility of medical technology advances reaching new heights in the next century or two that enables humans to have longer lifespans and thus, provide more contributions to the world.
I was intrigued to read this book based on its concept of near-immortality and the fact that for centuries humans have been trying to find the elixir of life. To see how science achieves it made Suicide Club have such an appealing concept. Too bad the concept wasn’t executed at its best.
I feel like I’m missing out on some big message by the time I was done with Suicide Club. Imagine the brilliant premise this book holds: immortality, or least longer life span (think of the age of hundreds) is within reach to those deserving and are called the lifers. Those who stict on a strict diet regimen, work out every single day, avoid stress and muscle exertion, monthly enhancements to ensure your skin and health are pristine. And those unworthy of these extended lifespans are cast aside as failures, called sub-zeros, destined to work as laborers and simple jobs; never given any chance to excel at anything because of the ‘number’ they’re assigned to at birth.
I would have loved to see more dynamic between these two extremes, the lifers and the non-lifers. But unfortunately we only got some minimal interaction between the main character, a 100-year-old lifer called Lea and another lifer a part of the Suicide Club, Anja. Lea felt so off throughout the entire book that I truly did not understand her main purpose in Suicide Club. I preferred Anja’s point of view in the book where her circumstances felt real enough to empathize with. The rest of the characters in Suicide Club were pretty bland. Lea’s family members could have used more exploration, although I really enjoyed Lea’s interaction with her father. We hardly got satisfactory glimpses into the other characters, namely Anja and the rest of the non-lifers in Suicide Club. I believe having them more involved in the story would have made futuristic New York with its immaculate group of lifers that much more imaginable.
The trickiest thing about speculative fiction that sort of emulates science fiction, is the ability to have tiny details within the book that eventually adds up to the story. And a lot of details were lacking in Suicide Club. For instance, I never really understood Lea’s job in the beginning. You would think that having longer-living lifers would benefit societies more on education, health and science aspects. But instead Suicide Club‘s elite lifers all feels a part of one big socialite group, which made me immediately lose interest in the entire community. Lea happens to be some big shot in a financial company based in New York. And her lifers group of friends compete to get the latest medical advances that would truly make them immortal. We don’t get to fully see at all the benefits that long lives has brought mankind, as I would expect science would take precedence in this matters. A missed opportunity in my opinion.
Then again, maybe that was a point the author wanted to drive within the book. Does immortality harbor selfish needs and eradicate the fear of death. And if so, are the wealthiest the first ones to have it?
Overall, Suicide Club had an interesting premise that definitely requires more exploration and discussion for the book to be fully appreciated. I still enjoyed how the plot triggered some questions on the worth of prolonging life if it means living in a bland lifestyle and forgoing passions and interests that are considered life-shortening. Give this a go nonetheless, it might suit your liking!
Thank you Pansing Books for providing a copy in exchange of an honest review.