Abria Mattina's Reviews > The Postmortal

The Postmortal by Drew Magary
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Jan 27, 12

bookshelves: review-2012
Read from January 21 to 24, 2012

Composed of blog entries, The Postmortal chronicles the post-cure life of John Farrell, a 29-year-old estate lawyer from New York City. This fact alone is a serious statement about our future–it doesn’t seem unreasonable that this guy’s entire life should be recorded on various devices and on his personal blog. To give the book a wider context, Magary frequently pulls back from John’s limited perspective by including news articles, the blog feeds of others, and transcriptions of political speeches. The reader gets to see not only how John is handling a changing world, but how everyone else is coping.

The result is a frightening but totally believable portrait of what the world would become if we could all be young and beautiful forever. The Cure prevents people from aging, but not from dying. People tend to overlook that last part and decide that once they get the cure, they’re going to enjoy an extended period of adolescence. They can still die from violence and disease, but at least old age will never get them.

So what do people who can be 25 forever do? The world turns into a big party. Bachelorhood can last for decades. Get tired of your spouse? Trade ‘em in and start a whole new family like nothing happened.

Of course, the inevitable problems arise. Soldiers that never grow old are created. Children are given the cure to preserve their “innocence.” Compounds of people withdraw from their various states, and natural resources are hoarded. With people still reproducing and nobody dying, the world’s population explodes. Overcrowding and disease bring another onslaught of problems. And to top it all off: stiff competition for resources kicks off World War III.

This is a story you won’t be able to tear yourself away from, especially because it feels like reading into the future.
On a personal level, it’s easy to sympathize with the characters’ anxieties and attitudes. The fact is that humans just don’t have the mental or emotional stamina for immortality. When the characters feel completely drained and fatigued with their situations, it makes us think of the moments in our own lives where we just want to sit out and take a breather. Life should amount to something–which ultimately means that it should end.

The only part of The Postmortal that disappointed me was that John Farrell’s story occasionally fades to the background. In his acknowledgements, Magary indicates that the first draft of The Postmortal was more of an idea dump than a novel. Sometimes that was evident in the finished product. There were points where the narrative of John Farrell seemed to take a back seat to creating a general portrait of human nature and political trends. That’s why I rated it four stars instead of five, though I enjoyed the book immensely.

I would definitely recommend The Postmortal. It’s literature that will make you think.
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Reading Progress

01/21/2012 page 56
18.0%
01/21/2012 page 111
35.0% "This book is depressing but really interesting."
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