In Which We Review Drew Magary’s ‘The Postmortal’
Set in the not-so-distant future (2019), “The Postmortal” explores our world if there was a cure for aging. With a simple three-needle procedure, you can freeze your body where it stands, and only bullets, disease, or the like could kill it. Basically, it's every narcissist's wet dream. While reading, I too couldn't help but emerse myself in this grandiose idea. Looking awesome, never getting married, dirty-dicking tons of chicks, AND living forever sounded all kinds of terrific. That is, until I kept reading and the reality (or possible reality) of such a world sets in.
A planet full of 20-somethings sounds great in theory, and for a while that's the partial-picture Magary paints. Divorces rates go through the roof (I chose to construe this as a positive), bachelor parties in Vegas get replaced by “Cure” parties, and everyone is, of course, in a static state of their prime. But stride for stride with the pros, Magary is quick to deliver the cons, i.e. the vast ramifications of immortality. Pro-death supporters are becoming increasingly violent, the “Cure” is being abused on the underage, and the population is steadily rising. All signs that mayhem is soon to follow.
The story is told through the blog/journal entires of our heavily flawed, main character, John Farrell. Farrell is a 29-year-old, somewhat self-absorbed, estate lawyer living in Manhattan and when we meet him, the cure is still in its infancy, illegal, and very costly. But in 2019, Farrell is the curious-type, and not someone who is about to miss out on living forever. Through the course of his entries — over a span of 60 years — we see his flaws, internal struggles, various relationships, and personal evolution play out as the postmortal world he expected so much from deteriorates around him.
The biggest compliment I can give the “The Postmortal” is that it had me hooked from the word go. With each page, some new “oh shit, that would definitely happen” realization is uncovered. And that made this book hard to put down. Well, that and how hooked I got on watching the Kindle's percentage bar move. But seriously, I'm proudly not into sci-fi by any means, but the tone and topic of “The Postmortal” make it a very digestible version of the genre and I sincerely recommend it.