I never would have come across Drew Magary’s The Postmortal if it weren’t my book club’s July selection, and I’m really glad that I did. With Postmortal, Magary has created a futuristic society that refuses to grow up. It’s kind of like Peter Pan and 1984 had a baby and named it The Postmortal (Caveat: I confess to never having read 1984).
In a not-so-distant future, scientists have discovered a cure for aging. Our narrator, John Farrell, is one of the early recipients of “The Cure,” even before it is legal. What follows are decades of his own journal entries detailing the mostly-not-surprising side effects of a society that isn’t dying off as fast as it should. One of the caveats for this cure is that it only cures aging. It doesn’t save you from dying if someone murders you, or you’re hit by a bus, or you get cancer; it just keeps you frozen at the age you were when you received the cure.
What I found most enjoyable about this book was how realistic Magary’s vision of an ageless society seems. It’s pessimistic, but at the same time it’s not really that different than what I’d pick for us if we were left to our own devices. Marriages crumble, resources dwindle, and yet, everyone chooses not to age. Human nature is selfish and vain, for the most part, and it’s only a matter of time before it becomes less special to be ageless, and more claustrophobic to just exist in Farrell’s world. The characters were well-rounded, or as well-rounded as they could be from the eyes of a first-person narrator. John’s sister and father are the most sympathetic; they actively resist the cure and regret taking it once they do. John himself is selfish and immature, but at the same time fairly self-aware. He knows his limits and reacts as truthfully as possible when he reaches them.
The only negative thing I have to say about this book is that the end doesn’t really deliver on the promise of the rest of the novel. There are many questions left unsatisfied and the buildup to the end so detailed that it seems kind of abrupt at the very end. In any case, I found this novel thought-provoking and really entertaining at the same time, so I’d recommend you add it to your To Read list.