11 June 2012

Book 10 of 2012

Book 9 is on the way. It's just a better book, so it's more difficult to discuss.

10) The Postmortal by Drew Magary
The cure for aging turned out to be surprisingly simple. The implications of the cure are far more complicated. The premise of a world where people don't age but can still very much die sounds like one that's rife with all sorts of social and philosophical commentary; the potential is definitely there. Unfortunately, Magary's first novel feels like a wasted opportunity.

Framed as a blog written with an awfully convenient transcription device (which makes the naval gazing protagonist, John Farrell, all the more unlikeable after the fact) which researchers discover long after "the cure" has been outlawed, the book is divided into four parts, each one separated by a seemingly arbitrary period of twenty years. Most of the entries are from Farrell's point of view, but there are sporadic occasions where Magary plays with voice: article collections or letters from acquaintances. The biggest problem of the book is that the further it strays from the present, the worse the quality of the plot becomes. Arbitrary is the best possible word to describe the series of events beginning with the conclusion of part two and ending with the deus ex blonde chick of part four, along with a myriad of things in between.

There appears to be this habit of newly published novelists to write their stories with the movie option in mind instead of just writing a book that functions as a decent book. While this could all be trumped up to my personal bias having read this book between A Visit from the Goon Squad and 2030. All three of the books show a near-future with enough similarities to the present that it never feels too alien. Egan and Brooks' novels, though, make a more successful effort of creating nuanced characters as opposed to Magary's series of events that might happen in the future to people. There's a big difference between things that happen to folks and characters having experiences.

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