Suicide Club by Rachel Heng

Suicide_Club_October_17_EDIT_NEW_3.inddSuicide Club
By Rachel Heng
Available 7/10/18
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
ISBN: 9781250185341
Pages: 352
Genre: Sci-Fi/Speculative Fiction/Dystopian

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In this debut set in near future NYC—where lives last 300 years and the pursuit of immortality is all-consuming—Lea must choose between her estranged father and her chance to live forever.

Lea Kirino is a “Lifer,” which means that a roll of the genetic dice has given her the potential to live forever—if she does everything right. And Lea is an overachiever. She’s a successful trader on the New York exchange—where instead of stocks, human organs are now bought and sold—she has a beautiful apartment, and a fiancé who rivals her in genetic perfection. And with the right balance of HealthTech™, rigorous juicing, and low-impact exercise, she might never die.

But Lea’s perfect life is turned upside down when she spots her estranged father on a crowded sidewalk. His return marks the beginning of her downfall as she is drawn into his mysterious world of the Suicide Club, a network of powerful individuals and rebels who reject society’s pursuit of immortality, and instead chose to live—and die—on their own terms. In this future world, death is not only taboo; it’s also highly illegal. Soon Lea is forced to choose between a sanitized immortal existence and a short, bittersweet time with a man she has never really known, but who is the only family she has left in the world.


My Thoughts

Suicide Club is a beautifully crafted tale that rings of a convincing familiarity. It was my cup of tea served with an alarming wake-up call, and I devoured every page of it. However, I will note that I did not find myself comparing this to the work of Atwood nor would I. Too often we attempt to lump female speculative fiction and dystopian writers into a specific category with Atwood and it is not always appropriate, as the themes and political aspects vary greatly. If I were asked to make a comparison, I would be more inclined to say that perhaps this is reminiscent of what Huxley’s Brave New World was addressing.

The skinny..

In a world where the population is declining, death is illegal, and advanced technology has made the possibility of immortality more than a mere dream, Lea Kirino has it all. She has lived her life right. She has achieved career success, a gorgeous apartment and fiancé, and incorporated the perfect balance of a healthy lifestyle and HealthTech™ into her daily routine to obtain the desired social status. She is a “Lifer”.

But when her estranged father who refused to live by society’s laws resurfaces in Lea’s life, everything she has worked hard to achieve is suddenly at risk. Drawn back into his life, she finds herself at the center of an underground network where members of the Suicide Club refuse to conform and accept immortality. They are choosing to live and die under their own conditions. Now Lea will have to make a choice of her own, between the highly successful and “perfect” life she has strived to achieve and one that includes the only family she has left.

“Time was measured in the beating of her mother’s mechanical heart. Thud, thud, thud. Space, in the number of steps taken to cross the room to retrieve the dried meals that arrived at regular intervals.”

What I appreciated..

  • Rachel Heng’s sophisticated prose crafts a hauntingly plausible story that hard to imagine as her first.
  • The New York setting remains ever so distance yet frightening familiar and close to the present.
  • Lea is relatable in her reluctance and fear to sacrifice or lose all that she has worked to obtain, the only life she has known. Her internal conflicts and challenges add an air of credibility that is easy to appreciate.
  • The author provides readers with brief, subtle explanations at times while avoiding unnecessary spoon-feeding or information dumps. This allows the reader a very fluid and immersive experience that transitions beautifully between the alternating perspectives.
  • Rachel Heng elegantly tackles the questions of just how much we value youth, beauty, and life as a society. More importantly, immortality and the costs that accompany it.
  • The ending was poetic and gratifying. Very rarely do I feel as much closure with a conclusion as Heng has offered her readers here.

“Something has to change. In being robbed of our deaths, we are robbed of our lives.”

Challenges some may encounter..

  • I felt that the actual Suicide Club was under-explored and could have added more depth to the prevalent themes within the story.
  • This book addresses heavier elements of death, suicide and human rights that may not be appropriate for all readers.

While we are given small inclinations to the political atmosphere, Suicide Club presents more as philosophical dystopian, addressing the value of life and questioning the priorities of our societies. Rachel Heng challenges current trends and dares to question the true value of life through a bold and thought-provoking character exploration that is poetic and unsettling at its core.

*I would like to thank Henry Holt and Co. & Netgalley for this advanced copy. The quotes included above are from the advanced copy and subject to change. This review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.

tea cup

 

Serve with a large warm cup of medium-bodied Darjeeling tea.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Book Depository

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Happy Reading,

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39 thoughts on “Suicide Club by Rachel Heng

  1. “In being robbed of our deaths, we are robbed of our lives.”

    See, that just struck me so wrong. I can’t stand the philosophy of defining things by their opposite. Life is important and meaningful by itself, not because it is going to end. Death is the final Enemy. It is something to fought tooth and nail and abhorred. It is also something we all have to make peace with, as we all die. But this idea that death is somehow good, smells of nihilism and apathetic despair.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to go off on you there 🙂

    Glad you had a good time with this read. With this being a debut, do you think you’ll read more by the author when she writes more?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely understand what you are saying and do not disagree! But I also know that sadly, society as a collective has a tendency to take the things that are given to them for granted. So while I stand with you and your statement, I still believe a large portion of mankind would unfortunately would fail to see the full gift of life if it were to become a permanent thing. So I see a lot of truth in what the author depicted (maybe not yours, mine or everyone’s, but some).

      You did not go off! It is a great point and I feel the same in regards to the meaning and value of life 😊

      Yes, I will definitely pick up more by her. Her writing and approach worked well for me.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I have seen a few remarks that she doesn’t address the political aspects enough or that it is too slow, but I felt this was more philosophical and not meant to be a political story. It is more of an exploration of how our advances and emphasis on beauty, youth, etc impact us as a whole demonstrated through character exploration. I recommend it 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s an interesting angle, esp as a reflection of the current world in which being “beautiful” and getting likes for it are so critical to people.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You’re right about people tending to put everything in the Atwood boat, cause I often associate everything to the Handmaid’s Tale myself (as a comparison) hahahah I do love hearing that there are books that are able to dissociate themselves from what Atwood created in the past in order to offer something original and just as powerful. I love the sound of a philosophical dystopia too; that promises to offer so much more out of a story (like a lot of classic dystopias do). And the poetic ending? That’s a huge seller! Awesome review, Danielle!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Lashaan! I feel like the Atwood “boat” is one that most readers are often compelled to lump female written dystopian until automatically and I can never understand this fully. I appreciate that she is a huge influence, but not the only one for sure 😉 but you know that. It does some writers a disservice when we see that comparison and it fails (particularly of the comparison really makes little sence). This was definitely a fantastic read for me. It was nice to see someone approach other relevant topics such as beauty trends and the emphasis we place on youth 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I had a little trouble getting into the first chapter of this so I set it aside until I could read your review. You’ve convinced me to give it another go! Comparing it to Brave New World has me particularly intrigued; that was one of my favorite approaches in the dystopian genre and I don’t see it emulated very often. Lovely review, Danielle! ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I should be fair and say that my comparison is more in themes and not so much approach. This is a slow paced read and you can expect it to be more philosophical with little emphasis on the politics (they kind of take a back seat), but I found it worth it JJ. What won me over was to see a speculative fiction right now that was tackling something relevant but different. Current themes tend to run with women’s rights and totalitarianism, but to see our trends with beauty and age challenged again was refreshing 🙂

      Like

    1. Thank you so much! I feel like so many expected this to be political and that is not where she was going with it at all. Which worries me that the overall message (so relevant in today’s society) might have been missed by some. I saw complaints that she doesn’t explain things fully like the mechanical heart, diamond skin but it was there 😉 in a few simple sentences. She just didn’t linger on those details. I am so looking forward to your review. I cannot wait to compare thoughts ❤

      Like

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