The Postmortal by Drew Magary (pub date 8/30/11)
“It’s not that people don’t want to die. It’s that they don’t want to grow old.”
Prepare to have your mind blown. The Postmortal has everything that’s great about dystopian stories. It’s the “Soylent Green” for a new generation.
Set about ten years in the future, scientists have accidentally discovered a form of gene therapy that stops the aging process in humans, a so-called “cure for aging.” That’s not to say this is a cure for death; anyone who receives the cure can still get sick and can still die in a car accident or any other way a normal person can. But taking the cure means never growing any older, and in theory it means having the potential to live for hundreds of years. Soon after its discovery the cure is banned in the United States, leaving those who want it to seek it on the black market.
The novel opens with the protagonist, John, going to get the cure despite its illegal status. As we follow John’s story we also follow what happens to our society since the cure’s discovery. The book contains insightful and often scary commentary and speculation on how this cure would affect the world politically, financially, and socially. For example John realizes that he will never be able to retire since his extended lifespan means he’ll always need money. Unfortunately this is the least of the problems and horrors that arise as a result of the cure.
The story takes a different turn about halfway through the book, and personally I enjoyed the first half of the book slightly more than the second. But this is still a fascinating story, and absolutely worth reading. In an age where medical discoveries are making huge strides every year, this is a cautionary tale that needs to be told. In my opinion it’s destined to be a best-seller. I’d recommend The Postmortal to anyone who enjoys science fiction or dystopian stories, or anyone looking for an intelligent and imaginative novel.