Suicide Club

Rachel Heng. Holt, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-18534-1
Heng’s uneven debut takes place in a futuristic New York where people are divided by life expectancy into “lifers” and “sub-lifers,” determined by a test performed at birth. Lifers can live up to 300 years old, and there are rumors swirling of a coming Third Wave that could bring lifers to immortality. Lea Kirino is a dedicated lifer, with a great job, a pedigreed fiancé, and daily routines and nutritional plans meant to optimize her lifespan. She’s an obvious fast-track candidate for the Third Wave—until one day, on her way to work, she sees her father, who’s been missing for 88 years. She steps into the street to chase after him, putting her life and her future in jeopardy. Anja Nilsson is a lifer as well, but when she sees the disastrous effects that life extension operations have on her mother, leaving her body technically alive but dead in every meaningful way, she comes to understand the drawbacks of immortality. When Lea and Anja meet, Lea feels drawn to Anja and especially her connection to the mysterious Suicide Club, whose members view immortality as unnatural and oppressive. Heng’s novel casts a critical eye on the desirability of immortality and contains some haunting, indelible moments. However, it’s weighed down by a lack of action and an overreliance on explication that undermine her conceit instead of allowing it to breathe and develop, making this an ambitious novel with mixed success. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/09/2018
Release date: 07/31/2018
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