Nenia Campbell's Reviews > 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America

2030 by Albert Brooks
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You can read more reviews, faster, at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.

It's been a while since I've had a serious contender for the everyone-hates-it-but-nenia list, and boy howdy, but isn't this the greatest addition a geeky gal like me could wish for?

Meet the most realistic dystopian fiction novel I've had the pleasure of reading in years- all the cutting satire of Christopher Buckley's Boomsday, with the pop-cultural know-how of Ernest Cline's Ready Player One.

The book takes place in the near future. Various scientific advancements have guaranteed that the older population can live for at least a century if they can afford it. Unfortunately, this really squeezes the modern health care system- and young people are growing increasingly frustrated with their own lives and the lives of those of their parents while these "olds" as they call them basically live it up in cushy retirement homes.

Los Angeles has been leveled by a 9.1 earthquake, with two aftershocks both above the 8-point mark. Insurance companies find themselves facing payouts in the trillions and have no choice but to declare bankruptcy. The president decides to seek foreign aid, and receives an interesting and controversial offer from China.

Oh yeah, and speaking of the presidency, America has its first Jewish president, and he's in the middle of all these issues, trying to balance his personal opinions with what is best for the country. Unfortunately, this doesn't always work and he gets himself into some pretty sticky scenarios that could very well compromise reelection.

Add to that a terrorist group of young people who bomb nursing homes in protest of the taxes they pay to keep the older generation alive, some scathing commentary on socioeconomic catch-22s, irony, black comedy, bleaker wit, and some very interesting ideas, and you've got 2030 in all its glory.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I can see why it has a low rating, since people are liable to get tetchy about politics anyway and this book has no real hero; everyone is fair game. I think that would make a lot of people angry. I am taking away half a star for the ending. Even though I can see what the author was trying to do (I think), it is pretty bleak, and it's always depressing when you spend a couple hundred pages invested in the characters and plot hoping things will turn out for the best- and it doesn't. But then, life often doesn't, so in that sense the book was pretty realistic. Hence half a star.

2030 has multiple POVs and usually that would annoy me, but Brooks made it work. I found myself looking forward to all the passages equally, which is rare. But then, most authors don't have this level of talent when they are trying to pull off something so kitschy.

I would definitely read another book by Mr. Brooks.

4.5 stars!

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Reading Progress

09/27/2013 marked as: to-read
11/20/2013 marked as: currently-reading
11/22/2013 marked as: read

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