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

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading,

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Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

27426044 (1)Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad #1)
By Scott Reintgen
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 9780399556791
Pages: 377
Genre: YA Sci-Fi

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With millions of dollars at stake, walking away isn’t an option.

Emmett Atwater agrees to leave Earth behind when Babel Communications offers him a fortune. The catch? He has to launch into deep space to get it. One of ten selected recruits, Emmett boards the company’s spaceship and sets course for a planet that Babel has kept hidden from the rest of the world.

Before long, Emmett discovers that all of Babel’s recruits have at least one thing in common: they’re broken. Broken enough that Babel can remold them however it pleases.

Every training session is a ruthless competition where friendships are tested and enemies are made. Each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—where they will mine nyxia, a substance that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. Secrets about the volatile substance they’re hoping to mine, about the reclusive humanoids already living on Eden, and about the true intentions for the recruits.

Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.


My Thoughts

Science fiction, I love it. With that being said, it has to deliver as I can be a tough critic. I think we all tend to approach our favorite genres with raised expectations. I generally require two things when exploring sci-fi; an intelligent plot and entertainment on a larger scale. Nyxia served up both with a healthy layer of beautiful icing on top!

The skinny..

When Babel Communications offers Emmett Atwater a chance to not only travel to space but provide his family with financial security, agreeing is the easy part. Coming from a home faced with many challenges (an overworked, underpaid father, an ill mother in need of medical treatment that cannot be afforded) being chosen as one of Babel’s 10 recruits seems like the answer. But Emmett soon learns that all candidates have one thing in common, they are broken. Each of them needs this as badly as the other, and now they learn they will compete for their spot.

Emmett’s plan: to train and survive the competition for an opportunity to travel to Eden and mine nyxia, the most valuable substance known to man. But as the fate of his family hangs in the balance, can he survive this new world of deadly secrets and cut-throat rivalry while maintaining his own integrity?

“It’s hard to tell the difference between rich and wrong.” 

What I appreciated..

  • The stunning cover that compliments the story beautifully (yes it is vain, but I have to admit I am a fan).
  • The narrative told from the perspective of the protagonist that fosters an early connection and appreciation with the reader.
  • A protagonist who is complex and riddled with personal conflict. Emmett is admirable and easily relatable through his internal struggles and constant emotions. He is flawed.
  • An intelligent and original plotline that is beautifully balanced and supports character growth and world building with incredible ease. Expect the unexpected and have fun doing so.
  • The avoidance of your typical YA tropes.
  • Nyxia! I really cannot be that girl and spoil the fun here, but this stuff is incredible and I loved reading about it.
  • Stellar writing that carries the reader through each page to a very gratifying conclusion.

“It’s impossible that someone with his story could have ever learned to smile. But that’s all he ever does. There’s a heaven in him no darkness can take.”

 

Challenges some may encounter..

  • Having to wait for the sequel! (I am lucky to have a lovely copy here beside me.)

Nyxia was a huge sci-fi win for me this year! Long story short, this one worked for me, and I cannot think of any reason I would not recommend this book. If you like sci-fi, you should love it. If you do not, it will probably change your mind. Scott Reintgen is on to something spectacular, and I cannot wait to explore it further.

tea cup

 

Pair with a nice black tea because you are going to want to caffeine to stay up with this one.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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The Science Fiction Hall of Fame: Volume 1 – Audiobook Review

scifihallofameaudio (1)
The Science Fiction Hall of Fame (Volume 1, 1929-1964)
Edited by: Robert Silverberg
Includes Stories by: Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury and many more.
Narrators: Various
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Unabridged: 28 hours and 9 minutes
Genre: Classic Science Fiction

Synopsis: 

The definitive collection of the best in science fiction stories between 1929-1964.

This book contains twenty-six of the greatest science fiction stories ever written. They represent the considered verdict of the Science Fiction Writers of America, those who have shaped the genre and who know, more intimately than anyone else, what the criteria for excellence in the field should be. The authors chosen for The Science Fiction Hall Fame are the men and women who have shaped the body and heart of modern science fiction; their brilliantly imaginative creations continue to inspire and astound new generations of writers and fans.

Robert Heinlein in “The Roads Must Roll” describes an industrial civilization of the future caught up in the deadly flaws of its own complexity. “Country of the Kind,” by Damon Knight, is a frightening portrayal of biological mutation. “Nightfall,” by Isaac Asimov, one of the greatest stories in the science fiction field, is the story of a planet where the sun sets only once every millennium and is a chilling study in mass psychology.

Originally published in 1970 to honor those writers and their stories that had come before the institution of the Nebula Awards, The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame, Volume One, was the book that introduced tens of thousands of young readers to the wonders of science fiction. Too long unavailable, this new edition will treasured by all science fiction fans everywhere.

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thoughts

Clocking in at over 28 hours, The Science Fiction Hall of Fame was an incredibly easy listen that seem to fly by over the course of a few days. Offering a wider range of stories accompanied by varying narrators, I quite enjoyed my time with this collection.

While it is always difficult to review anthologies (particularly of this size) I did want to share a few thoughts on this one, as many have been such a miss for me lately. When I discover a collection that feels well-balanced and overall rewarding, I want to hand it the spotlight for a few.

With that stated, I do feel it is important to mention that Volume 1 is not without flaws. As to be expected, there are times the narration missed the mark or the true age of the material was inevitably felt. Also, I received an MP3 file from the publisher, so there was a lot of information that was not accessible in terms of biographies. Several stories that were multiple files in length, actually downloaded out of order. This was a frustration to work through and I fear I missed some titles. But none of this was enough to take away from the enjoyment of a fantastic collection of sci-fi classics.

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Supplied in easily digestible chunks, this anthology takes the reader on a journey that begins in 1929 and end in 1964. There are the notorious tales of androids and psychic abilities gone bad to space craft stowaways that challenge our moral obligations and stories where protagonists face situations with universal ramifications. Each story feels unique and challenges the reader (listener) on some varying emotional level. And as good science fiction does, there are many subtle and not so subtle messages  contained throughout that explore humanity on a multifaceted spectrum.

A few of my favorites included:

A Martian Odyssey by Stanley G. Weinbaum
Helen O’Loy by Lester del Rey
The Quest for Saint Aquin by Anthony Boucher
The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clarke
It’s a Good Life by Jerome Bixby
The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin
Fondly Fahrenheit by Alfred Bester

Even with the obstacles I encountered, I can easily say that this a collection of great value for all fans of science fiction! I will definitely be picking up a physical copy of this anthology for my shelves at first opportunity and look forward to exploring later volumes.

*I would like to thank audiojukebox and the publisher for my copy. The above review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.

tea cup

 

Enjoyed over several cups of chamomile tea with a hint of lavender.


Purchase Links: Amazon.com Book Depository

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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