Oh. My. God. I have just finished Suicide Club by Rachel Heng and I want more and more! I want more stories from this dystopian universe, from the first wave and how they deal with the third. I want to know how they carry out tests of the third wave treatments in a darker take on it. I want to know everything about this world. This is a seriously epic novel with an intriguing plot, thought-provoking themes and characters you could root for. The only thing I would have liked more of in this particular novel is scientific context, as I didn’t understand how they would have gone from extending people’s lives to making them completely immortal. Rachel, please write another book (or 10) in this universe! Suicide Club by Rachel Heng was published on 10 July by Hodder and Stoughton.
You are in the future, and people can live forever. Or at least for an extra 100 years based on suitability tests carried out when they are babies. But soon, they will be able to live forever; it will solve the population problems and people will be happier. But they have to live by the ‘advisories’ of the government, which include eating no meat, dairy or gluten, cutting out any outdoor exercise and sealing windows shut in flats from the second floor up.
Lea is the ideal ‘lifer’. She has a great job, fiancee and flat, doesn’t eat sugar and exercises everyday according to the advisories. Until she sees her long-lost father and stumbles accidentally into oncoming traffic. From here on out, she discovers more about the world she’s living in as she unearths the secrets of the Suicide Club; lifers who believe that people should have a choice as to whether to live or die.
Why I enjoyed this book…
Suicide Club by Rachel Heng is an excellent book because Rachel Heng knows how to create a dystopian universe. She does not spend the first five chapters making the reader understand the world, as it is embedded within the narrative and you’re constantly learning more about it as you read more. It really is brilliantly plotted and written, with Heng describing people and places with beautiful clarity and knowledge of what she is describing; I particularly enjoyed her description of Lea’s first wrinkle. The storyline is great as we see things from the perspectives of both Lea and partially from Anja’s; a Swedish woman who moved to New York with her mother to increase her life expectancy.
I will say that I much preferred Anja as a character, as well as the other characters from the Suicide Club whose stories I wish there was more of. As a first book set in this world, I would have preferred there to be no set protagonist and to have things split either equally between Lea and Anja or have a few more narratives from the Club told alongside Lea’s discovery and exploration of the world she lives in. For people who don’t think that Lea’s decisions and knowledge are very believable as an 100 year-old business woman, I think they need to account for the fact that she’s done 35 years of education and 65 years in the world building a career which now takes up to ten times as long as in the real world, therefore these people who are following every advisory possible to achieve immortality would not be street smart and probably would fly off the handle and make silly decisions and basic mistakes when faced with these revelations about their seemingly perfect world.
The only negative thing I am reiterating is the lack of scientific context within this novel. I felt that the start explained a few bits, but without describing a replacement procedure, or hinting as to how they have made organs which can survive so long, I felt that it lacked the ‘science’ in science fiction a little for me. That being said, I love this world and I want more of it. I would love to hear about the history and how they chose their first test subjects for the treatments, including the side effects and what they do with failed tests since they cannot kill them.
Overall, I thought this book was an epic first look into this dystopian future. I would recommend to a LOT of people; as long as you like a good, gripping narrative, or realistic dystopian science fiction, you will devour Suicide Club. There are no robots, aliens or monsters; it is a story about a future for the real world. It is also something I could see happening if only we could figure out how, which makes it intriguing as hell. What a brilliant read, Rachel Heng! Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton and NetGalley for my advance copy of Suicide Club.