Pick of the Week - September 29-October 5, 2014

What if we could stop aging?

That’s the basic concept behind this week’s pick, the novel The Postmortal by Drew Magary.  Magary is perhaps best known for his interview with Duck Dynasty…I hesitate to use the word “star” here, since we’re talking about a reality show…participant (Sure.  Let’s go with that.) Phil Robertson, which publicized many of Robertson’s beliefs and got him temporarily removed from his show.

The PostMortal has nothing to do with any of that.  Instead, it is the story of John Farrell.  In 2019, when he is 29-years-old, scientists find a cure for aging, which, along with freezing anyone who takes the cure at the age when they receive it, does away with death from old age. 

The book then follows the next several decades of John’s life as the world struggles to adjust to this fundamental change in what it means to be human.  Yes, people can still die from injuries and disease, but that’s not nearly enough to offset the changes in the population.  And not everyone is happy about the new state of affairs and decide to take it upon themselves to fight to restore the natural order of things.

The Postmortal is told in the form of journal entries, with the occasional news article thrown in.  While most of the story is told by John, these articles provide a bigger picture of how the world is coping, or not coping, with the aftershocks of the discovery of The Cure.

Magary’s novel delves deep into its premise and postulates many scary yet oh-so-believable outcomes of this medical miracle.   The changes to society are well-thought out, and some of the individual reactions are horrifying.  One in particularly thoroughly disgusted me, yet unfortunately I could see someone taking the actions the particular character in question took (I know that was ridiculously vague, but I dread spoilers).

The book is entertaining, exciting, and thought-provoking.  Immortality may sound fantastic, but you might change your mind after reading The Postmortal.

- Alan Decker

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