Book Review: Rachel Heng – Suicide Club

  • Originally posted on January 28, 2019

It’s rare that I spend £12.99 on one book. But it is a beautiful book, and the blurb drew me in.

Set in a dystopian near-future New York, main character Lea sees her father walking across the other side of the road. She hasn’t seen him in 88 years (they live a really long time here) and is shocked. Not wanting to lose him again, she tries to follow him. But a car gets in her way, and the downwards spiral of her life begins.

The clear moral dilemma this novel is displaying is thus: is it worth living a long life, if its not as good as a life which is shorter? Throughout the book there is a contrast: those who will do anything to reach the ‘Third Wave’- immortality — and those who will do anything to die. In a world where life-lengthening is the goal, and algorithms decide your fate, it is surprisingly hard to do either.

The novel is interestingly written- its very matter-of-fact in nature, and you can tell quite quickly that appearances matter. Not just in the beautiful, neon cover, but also throughout. Everything is described in painstaking detail, allowing you to really envisage yourself inside this new world. And I even have a new favourite word: *looks around, conspiratorially*.

The novel reaches a satisfying conclusion, even if for three hundred pages it didn’t seem to be clear where it would end. Anja, the second protagonist, is a wonderful character, inherently flawed (like everyone) but you can really see how desperate she is to do the right thing. Similar to ‘Killing Eve’, the two female leads become increasingly connected, and intrigued by each other. Similarly, I was shipping them by the end of the novel.

Although it was slow, and I generally found Lea to be quite unlikeable, it was an interesting read which offers up several moral questions. What really is life? What is the point of life? And, despite it not being my full cup of tea, I would not dissuade anyone from reading this novel (although in the UK at least it seems very hard to find a copy). It is very well written, and for a relatively new author such as Rachel Heng, she could well be worth keeping on an eye on for future projects.

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