It isn’t possible to write a post apocolyptic/dystopian novel these days and not be compared to the landslide of books that inhabit that genre. Which is why this got overlooked, and that’s too bad. Tough shit for everyone else. That means I get to be the first one to share it with you, and at the same time, be one of only a handful of people who have read this truly great and frieghtening book. I get the whole trade paper thing, and it is really where some authors should start out, but not this guy.
Drew Magary writes like a seasoned pro who has been hard at it for years. He tackles a future society and all it’s reinventedness. This story seems like the future, but more like next week. The whole shooting match is told through the deceptively attractive voice of a man named John Farrell, who as the story starts, has left behind his journal, or a series of blog posts that have been discovered in an abandoned compound somewhere in Virginia. These files were found after the “Great Correction”, I will get to that in a second, or maybe you can figure out that for yourself.
The nuts of this story? Aging had been cured, now no one can die. Sounds great, almost too good to be true, and as the cliche goes, it is. John is just a middle of the pack guy, nothing more than a man in a world that is rapidly being changed by technology. I found it strange, at first, that he had a roomate, but as it goes these days with story telling, there are no accidents when it comes to characters who pop up at the start of a story and don’t come up again until the end. See? The roommate really did mean something to the story.
People are thrown into flux by the cure for death, and now that no one can die, John’s law firm comes up with cure for marriage, setting terms limits for those who are married. This is great. Do you really want to spend forever married to the same woman/man? This is just a minor moment in the book, but sets off an interesting chain reaction which leads to John’s father, sister, and how, why and when they all got the cure.
John paid a ton of money to get the rescrambling of his inner workings. In the first third of the novel, the cure is illegal, which leads to all kinds of strange outcomes and solutions. Along the way we hear in detail about the guy who came up with the cure, and this is where my mind was really blown by Magary. It had to take a wicked imagination, insane research, and hours of rewriting for the techie side of this story to be developed, and it reads like the back of the shampoo bottle, easy Japanese.
John and the world come to the conclusion that the earth can’t sustain this growing mass of people, and since no one dies, neither can the story. Eventaully John has to be part of the solution, and not the problem. There is a strange cult that is intergral to John’s existence, and I will let you find that for yourself.
By the time things go Cormac McCarthy, you will have a hard time looking at this book because it’s so weird and sad. When Magary takes us up to 30,000 feet for a view of the rest of the world’s solution to over population, you get the idea about “Great Correction”.
I’m fascinated by what will happen next in our society, what if we run out of oil, and then does that mean food is next? What about water? This novel brings all those fears to light, and it ain’t pretty. Just remember, your supermarket has four days worth of food in it. That’s all. What if there was no oil? Oh wait, forget it, just read this amazing novel.