The Postmortal tells the story of John Farrell, a twenty-nine year old who decides to receive the cure for aging. As “the cure” becomes widespread, John and many of his fellow immortals will live to regret that decision.
For the most part, Drew Magary (@drewmagary), who writes for Deadspin, Kissing Suzy Kolber, GQ, Maxim, and NBC, among other places, does a wonderful job exploring the consequences of “the cure” over four time periods. The first, when John receives “the cure,” is written using a tone many of Magary’s readers will be familiar with: jovial, snarky, sharp. It’s the voice of a young man who just obtained a wonderful thing. But with each successive period, the world’s population has grown exponentially, resources have dwindled or disappeared, and disasters become both more severe and more common.
New religions, new gangs, and new fights evolve as people and governments struggle to make the best of an increasingly terrible situation. What begins as acts of violence against those who have received “the cure” evolves into a war between the haves and the have-nots. In John’s future, the world is summed up by the line, “We’re going to take what we need to survive–and then maybe we’ll take a little more.” At times, The Postmortal is funny, beautiful, shocking, and horrific. It’s a great read, with only a few caveats.
The Postmortal is written in a series of short posts to John’s stream using his mobile device. This style is fitting, given Magary’s blogging background. But this style opens up a big plot hole at the climax of the novel (compounding the confusion I felt at the end when John enters what seemed to me a very unlikely romantic relationship).
There are a couple of other little things that detract from The Postmortal, such as Magary’s penchant for stringing together an absurd number of similes or the use of “link roundups” as a sort of quick but clumsy infodump of various aspects of the post-cure world. But overall, this is a very enjoyable, albeit dark, book. I definitely recommend it, and I can’t wait to read Magary’s next novel.
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