"A provocative new author. A fascinating debut novel. Read it!” —Jeff VanderMeer
In Rachel Heng's debut set in near future New York City—where lives last three hundred 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 choose 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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Is living forever all it's cracked up to be? We were transfixed by the moral conundrums at the heart of Rachel Heng's Suicide Club. Ambitious Lea navigates a futuristic New York City where scientific advances have put immortality within reach. But when Lea's long-absent father reappears, she must decide whether to continue obeying society's draconian rules or follow his lead and embrace nonconformity. In the course of her imaginative science-fiction thriller, Heng paints a realistic emotional landscape and underscores how difficult it is to suppress individuality and erase familial love.
Heng's uneven debut takes place in a futuristic New York where people are divided by life expectancy into "lifers" and "sub-lifers," determined by a test performed at birth. Lifers can live up to 300 years old, and there are rumors swirling of a coming Third Wave that could bring lifers to immortality. Lea Kirino is a dedicated lifer, with a great job, a pedigreed fianc , and daily routines and nutritional plans meant to optimize her lifespan. She's an obvious fast-track candidate for the Third Wave until one day, on her way to work, she sees her father, who's been missing for 88 years. She steps into the street to chase after him, putting her life and her future in jeopardy. Anja Nilsson is a lifer as well, but when she sees the disastrous effects that life extension operations have on her mother, leaving her body technically alive but dead in every meaningful way, she comes to understand the drawbacks of immortality. When Lea and Anja meet, Lea feels drawn to Anja and especially her connection to the mysterious Suicide Club, whose members view immortality as unnatural and oppressive. Heng's novel casts a critical eye on the desirability of immortality and contains some haunting, indelible moments. However, it's weighed down by a lack of action and an overreliance on explication that undermine her conceit instead of allowing it to breathe and develop, making this an ambitious novel with mixed success.